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Timeless

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nacho:
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. 

nacho:

--- Quote from: nacho 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. 

--- End quote ---

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.

nacho:
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!

nacho:
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.

nacho:
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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