NBC stopped the clock on Timeless, created by Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke, after one season. Our time-traveling trio of Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) and Wyatt (Matt Lanter) were left hanging off a cliff. Lucy found out that her mother was Rittenhouse, the secret society behind the scenes. Jiya (Claudia Doumit), Rufus’s girlfriend, had physical and temporal side effects from time travel that we will now never find out about.
Timeless was an expensive show and the ratings had dropped by half by the end of the season. It was also still in the middle of a lawsuit by the makers of El Ministerio del Tiempo, a Spanish language time traveling series. They had attempted to sell their formula to Sony before Sony green-lit Timeless and claim that their ideas were stolen for Timeless in the lawsuit.
Eric Kripke tweeted, “Odds are long, but trying to find another home.” It could happen. It’s possible that a smaller venue might find 4 million viewers a success rather than a failure.
Of the shows that Kripke has created that I’ve seen, Supernatural, Revolution and Timeless, they have had one flaw in common. They all started slowly and became more interesting and deep as they progressed. Revolution lasted for two seasons, Timeless for one, and Supernatural has been renewed for a record-breaking 13th season.
Supernatural relied on urban legends to begin with. It became more interesting as it built its own mythology. Revolution made the mistake of not telling the audience why the power was out for too long. It lost the more scientific minds amongst us. I assumed it had to be something that was still there to continue to suppress power, and concluded it was nanites. I was right, but the reveal was too slow. Timeless also improved over the season, with each episode better than the last. The loss of viewers is not due to the series deteriorating, but lack of patience. With the number of options genre fans have right now, you can lose their attention by the first commercial break.
Forget the slow build, or toss out the first few eps and start about six episodes in. And maybe don’t peddle to NBC. They like to cancel the good stuff.
Timeless had some strengths. The best part about it was finding that little piece in history that no one knew about or that unsung hero whom history had forgotten because they were the wrong color or gender, or didn’t fit the narrative. They had a great cast and amazing guest stars. All the characters had their own personal motivations, and there was a good deal of humor. Not to mention a terrific wardrobe; an entire room full of period clothing. I hope the show can find a new life in a new home.
For your time-traveling viewing needs, 12 Monkeys will be airing on Syfy starting on Friday, May 19th. The entire third season will be shown during that weekend, ten episodes. It’s an excellent show.
For lighter fare, Legends of Tomorrow has been renewed on the CW. There are other time travel series in development at ABC.
I know they are not Timeless. It is/was/maybe will be again-a unique series.