Author Topic: Timeless  (Read 2644 times)

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Offline nacho

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Timeless
« on: October 04, 2016, 08:38:21 AM »
Fall TV Premiere Report:

Timeless.

So... This show is awesome! Maybe my bar was set way low, but this was a great premiere.

So an ex-NSA psycho murders his family and then steals a time machine that Paterson Joseph was making in secret. He plays a mega-corp CEO with a daaaark secret. Oooh!

The government steps in to unfuck the mess and they gather up our trio of heroes:

A plucky history professor. She's a savant when it comes to history, she's hot, and she's sort of our comic relief but in a good way. She's our soul, taking the idea of preserving history seriously. She's also bad at teamwork and goes rogue. Leader type gal.

The cynical washed up soldier. He's the muscle of the group.

The programmer. He's our brainiac. He's black, which gets a really nice touch here because, as he says, "I'm black. There's literally no point in American history that'll be awesome for me." This plays up well in the premiere but, since he's right, it's going to get tiring fast if they keep using it as they did here.

So they're sort of a hybrid between Time Tunnel and Time Trax. They're chasing a psychopath through time. The psychopath has the working time machine and our heroes have the prototype "lifeboat." But there's a nice twist (hint, 12 Monkeys) that should keep this from being a straight up time travel show.

There's a lot of meta stuff here. "Oh, right. I get it. Time travel problems." But even that works. How refreshing to have a show that acknowledges the tropes of the genre in a way that's not a gimmick but more natural.

The rules: There are no do-overs. They can't revisit a point in time to correct their mistakes. So the butterfly effect is strong here. In the first episode, they fuck up pretty severely. But they're protected from the changes, so we have great potential here to slowly have our trio become sort of unstuck from time. 

Offline nacho

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2016, 08:46:40 AM »
Fall TV Premiere Report:

Timeless.

So... This show is awesome! Maybe my bar was set way low, but this was a great premiere.

So an ex-NSA psycho murders his family and then steals a time machine that Paterson Joseph was making in secret. He plays a mega-corp CEO with a daaaark secret. Oooh!

The government steps in to unfuck the mess and they gather up our trio of heroes:

A plucky history professor. She's a savant when it comes to history, she's hot, and she's sort of our comic relief but in a good way. She's our soul, taking the idea of preserving history seriously. She's also bad at teamwork and goes rogue. Leader type gal.

The cynical washed up soldier. He's the muscle of the group.

The programmer. He's our brainiac. He's black, which gets a really nice touch here because, as he says, "I'm black. There's literally no point in American history that'll be awesome for me." This plays up well in the premiere but, since he's right, it's going to get tiring fast if they keep using it as they did here.

So they're sort of a hybrid between Time Tunnel and Time Trax. They're chasing a psychopath through time. The psychopath has the working time machine and our heroes have the prototype "lifeboat." But there's a nice twist (hint, 12 Monkeys) that should keep this from being a straight up time travel show.

There's a lot of meta stuff here. "Oh, right. I get it. Time travel problems." But even that works. How refreshing to have a show that acknowledges the tropes of the genre in a way that's not a gimmick but more natural.

The rules: There are no do-overs. They can't revisit a point in time to correct their mistakes. So the butterfly effect is strong here. In the first episode, they fuck up pretty severely. But they're protected from the changes, so we have great potential here to slowly have our trio become sort of unstuck from time. 

Episode two was just as strong. If they pull this off a third time, they're getting their own thread.

This episode they had to stop the bad guy from fucking up the assassination of Lincoln.

Since this is just 12 Monkeys light, I enjoyed the argument about the moral consequences of changing history. That is, if they have the chance to improve history, shouldn't they do so? Since there's no oversight, and since history has already been irreparably altered, it's an interesting debate. The only one against it is our hottie history major lead, but her life has already been turned upside down after the first episode and she's starting to slip.

The sense that our trio of heroes are drifting out of time was downplayed this episode. Their Fed handler just advises them to not worry about the tiny ripples of change and they try to explain some of the changes in our hottie lead's life as long-standing parental lies (introducing some very unwelcome family drama that this show simply doesn't have time or space for).

I was worried about them overplaying the black card when it came up in the pilot. It comes up again here, but it was very well handled. A poignant sense of the historical black experience is the way to handle this. It's also, in light of the 12 Monkeys argument, the hook for the black member of our trio. So hottie history wants her life back, cynical soldier wants his wife back, and black programmer is haunted by the general American horror and seeks to change it in small, personal ways with the people he meets.

The Big Problem: The psycho bad guy has a 12 Monkeys book that, he says, our hottie history gal wrote. i.e., he's following orders from a future her. He and she have now had a showdown encounter in each episode where he implies that he's following a greater goal, operating against a nefarious over-arching evil (named Rittenhouse, which is either a corporation of some ruling Illuminati cabal), that she will join him and, in the pilot episode, that she wrote the guidebook for all his actions.

But none of this is said outright nor does she press the obvious line of inquiry here.

But this is such a trope. In fact, all of the below apply:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FigureItOutYourself
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PoorCommunicationKills
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IdiotPlot

In a time travel show, I can forgive this...but only up to a point. They either have to rope our trio into the larger mystery, or go full 12 Monkeys and resolve to battle their future selves and/or decide somewhat conclusively that the alleged future self isn't them and/or is some splinter version of themselves. This needs to be done very quickly (as in this season) because this show isn't set up for anything truly complicated.

Offline nacho

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2016, 08:42:54 AM »
Episode three has a fatal flaw -- they're tracking the bad guy in real time but are "three hours behind" his movements. From their perspective, any change to history would be instantaneous. This is a fairly JV writing club mistake. Shame, shame.

Especially when the bad guy has a script from the future, the way to handle this without getting into paradox shit is to either steal that script or have some sort of knowledge about it. That way you're anticipating the bad guy's movements (and the conflict is that the bad guy outmaneuvers you).

Anyway... The Vegas episode maintained all of the good points and, though it highlighted a few writing flaws, I didn't mind because we're hitting all the right notes in the right way.

Also, next week -- NAZIS!

Offline nacho

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2016, 08:29:26 AM »
This show's so much fun that I'm willing to forgive their almost fantastical take on history -- such as Ian Fleming being a dashing field agent, and a trio of clumsy Americans who don't speak German infiltrating an Inglorious Bastards style party in 1944.

All that counts is that we had an 80s style time travel show adventure with 2016 sensibilities, style, and budget. And...a-fucking-men! This may be the only show in the fantasy/sci-fi genre that's letting its hair down.

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2016, 05:38:52 PM »
The Alamo episode was awesome!

This is my new favorite sci-fi show. But, again, I stress that this is Voyagers!: 2016. There is nothing here that requires higher brain functions. But, man, is it fun...and pretty.

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2016, 02:56:51 PM »
This show is doing everything right!

Just when the Larger Story and the Great Mystery was approaching a yawn moment, they gave us an episode where the bad guy sat down and not only had a heart to heart with our heroes but he (and the story of the week) explained who the Big Bad was and why they're doing what they're doing. Meanwhile, the web of secrets that has plagued our trio of heroes were all aired and resolved. In the space of about 15 minutes, the show pulled itself together and rebuilt itself as our trio of heroes vs. the Big Bad while the rogue agent fucks up the wheels on his similar (and now sympathetic) mission.

Terrific. The background was set just days after Watergate so that made the National Treasure-style conspiracy trope even more delicious.

Next week we're going to the French-Indian War where we address the only remaining problem -- how's the time machine successfully eluding detection and what happens when it is detected?

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2016, 11:18:28 AM »
Now we're starting to wear the formula a bit thin. Still a great show, but we've spent half this season cat and mousing the bad guy and, every other episode, with one side or the other standing in point blank range and with the upper hand...only to be distracted at the last minute where everyone except a redshirt or two escapes.

They've chosen to try and humanize the bad guys instead of delving into the 12 Monkeys storyline where they're only doing what they're doing because they're following the instructions of future hottie. Meanwhile, the good guys seem largely unconcerned about that fact.

Rittenhouse, as the Big Bad, is interesting but also largely unexplored. And how and why does this organization know about them when contacted in the past?

The implication is that Future Hottie is doing more than just writing guidebooks and has set up this whole thing on a much grander scale. And, if so, that sort of undermines every episode so far. It also can't be solved or addressed because it'll instantly destroy the formula and end the show.

They haven't yet painted themselves into a corner...but they're almost there.

And all this could have been avoided if they just went full on Voyagers!, which it seems like they sort of wanted to do originally, perhaps, before the studio got a hold of the show.

Offline nacho

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2016, 05:05:38 PM »
The Throne maiden got sucked into the Bonnie & Clyde episode!

That said, they're going to have to deal with this Big Bad storyline which continues to feel too big for the show's britches.

We're already starting to flirt with the "evil quantum leaper" syndrome here where they're trying to have their cake and eat it too.

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2016, 11:24:14 AM »
The mid-season finale was pretty awesome. They sort of escalated the problems I've been carping about the last few weeks so, at least, that should fuel the back half of the season. It's looking more and more like this will be the only season, though. Which is a shame. If they had some breathing room to unfuck their fuckery and just do a straight-up time travel show we might have something here.

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2017, 11:16:47 AM »
Timeless is back and just as good as the first half of the season. And probably just as doomed. In fact, it feels like they did some tweaks to tie up the storyline this season. A shame.

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2017, 12:41:56 PM »
The last episode was a bit of misstep, actually, but this week's episode made up for it. We're basically off the rails now -- our main guy is trying to stop his wife's killer's parents from meeting in 1983 while Lucy becomes embroiled in a plot to destroy both time machines and finally show Rittenhouse what's what.

Except...Rittenhouse has unlimited resources so they'll just build a new time machine and, though everyone rightly mentions that as a problem, they also seem wholly unconcerned about it. So...

Well! Nevermind! It's the 80s!

Offline nacho

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2017, 11:43:42 AM »
With a second season doubtful, and with fair warning to tweak their finale with that in mind, the show still decided to go with a nasty cliffhanger. I find that tactic somewhat despicable. Revolution did that, as well.

The other problem was one of the characters becoming unstuck in time because she had to unexpectedly travel with the main cast. Kind of stupid considering the main bad guy has been throwing random people into his timeship willy nilly all season.


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Re: Timeless
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2017, 07:22:55 AM »
Oh wow! NBC changes its mind. Timeless gets a second season.

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2018, 05:27:03 PM »
Timeless returns! I know it's doomed but, man, I am so happy. This is such a good time travel series. The season two premiere rocks, of course. I remain as happy with this show as I was for season one. I stand by my claim that this is Voyagers! meets Twelve Monkeys.

After the cliffhanger, everyone is kind of split up. But they're going to solve that pretty quickly. This is candy...that's all. I expect this season to essentially soft reboot a couple episodes in. Which is fine. Bring it on.

Watch this show! Support it!

Offline nacho

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Re: Timeless
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2018, 10:43:41 AM »
Well, as much as I love staring blankly at Abigail Spencer, Timeless really hasn't learned from their mistakes. It's still 12 Monkeys -- with our team, now operating in secret, chasing the evil Rittenhouse throughout the timeline. Rittenhouse is now run by a guy from WWI who sees all, knows all, and exists as a time oracle just like the stranger prophet guy in the 12 Monkeys show. Rittenhouse is always just one step ahead. The timeline is slowly warping so that our team (who all remember their own timeline) have to adapt to the slowly fragmenting modern day.

Meanwhile, each episode still tries to be a set piece -- the Salem Witch trails, the first stock car race, etc. But the Voyagers!-esque exploration of that time period is always eclipsed by the battle with Rittenhouse, who has sleeper agents installed throughout the timeline. So, instead of having a time travel adventure during the Salem Witch Trails (which just begs for a time travel adventure), it's all about the ongoing struggle with the time manipulators and their masterplan to destroy America.

In the end, the setting doesn't matter. It's like NuWho. The over-arching saga/struggle/character angst is centerstage, and the background could be 17th century New England, WWI, the Civil War, or the modern day. It doesn't matter because, before anyone can interact with the setting, they're distracted by the Big Bad.