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Timeless Pilot (2016) –Yesteryear Time Travel (A Historian, a Soldier and a Coder Walk into a Bar)


Time travel seems to be making a surge in the world of entertainment. ABC has a midseason premiere involving it. CW already has their version of the concept with Legends of Tomorrow, and of course, we all know about Doctor Who. But then this isn’t surprising. Where one leads, many others will follow. NBC’s version premiered last month. Here’s what it’s about.

TV SERIES REVIEW | Doctor Who, Series Five (2009) - BBC's Entertaining Time Traveling Hero

With her personal life in shambles, Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer) needs one thing in her life to be uncomplicated. She finds this teaching in the department her mother founded and fostered. But then she learns that her tenure is being revoked leaving her to question the one place she felt in control. Next thing she knows, her life spirals towards crazy when Lucy is summoned by Homeland. It would seem her unique knowledge as a historian is required.

Until Lucy sees with her own eyes what they are proposing, she doesn’t believe in the possibility of time travel. But a machine capable of it sits before her, and a story about a villain who must be stopped. On this mission (to 1937, the day of the Hindenburg crash) Lucy is one third of an unlikely trio. Also joining her are Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter), a soldier with scars, and Rufus Carlan (Malcom Barrett), a coder struggling with where his loyalties are.

As the promo spots played for this one during the Olympics, I think my impression of it was that it’d be a lighthearted, almost “silly” bit of frothy time travel fun. In many ways, it is this, but I think the serious side this script has is not to be underestimated. From the start, the fact that the story is confronting such an interesting time in history is not to be brushed aside. Part of the pull (for me as a viewer) is the setting since I’ve become curious about the 30s and 40s.


Inside this time-travelling world lies a fascinating premise. Since I started this review, I watched a second episode and feel confident in saying, Timeless might be one of my new favorites! The plotting is what’s going to keep me glued to the screen. Episode one visits the 1940s, while the follow up travels further back to the Civil War and the sad events of Lincoln’s assassination. Interestingly, this isn’t just a “drama” driven by entertainment purposes. This one also wrestles with some interesting questions that, for this girl, stirs some complex think and compelling “what if” questions.

Beyond this, the “fun” of the trips into yesteryear are what makes this series golden. The costumes, the adventure of it all, and Lucy’s hilarious this-isn’t-right protests meld to make wonderful television. It’s the kind of show that pulls you into the story quickly because, in a sense it’s like a story inside of a story. Everyone has to “become” someone else (unseen heroes) while also trying to find normalcy in their daily lives.  In particular, I’m curious to see what happens in Lucy’s life (her world is turned upside down following her first time travel experience) and most fervently do I hope Wyatt’s story doesn’t veer where I fear it will.

The chemistry between Wyatt and Lucy is “surface” fun, but there is more simmering beneath that playful flirtation that I look forward to discovering. Also, I cannot say more for fear of spoiling you, but let’s just say Lucy discovers a person in her life that I’m also curious about. I suspect, depending on the audience’s reaction, this person will either play a greater role in future or be written off altogether. Beyond this, Rufus’ character has a secret that weighs on him, which is something I suspect we’ll learn more about as the series furthers.


If you like history, but generally enjoy contemporary TV procedurals, this might be the ideal show for you. The way the scripts tell their stories pulls me in, and leaves me wanting to know so much more. Perhaps the most fun aspect is the sense of adventure. We get to experience the wonder of history with our time-travelling heroes, and saying it's fun is likely an understatement. Though the ratings aren’t matching expectations, I hope this series has some staying power. It has earned an additional episode order in its inaugural run, which perhaps is an indicator it won’t run of time quite yet.


Content: there is some minor profanity and minor innuendo. The show is rated TV14 or TVPG depending on the episode.

Photos: NBC 

8 comments

  1. I saw Matt Lanter post about this and was curious. Hahaha! But your review has definitely convinced me. I rarely do series. I hate waiting on new episodes and the thought of watching a whole season of something and getting so attached to the characters is scary. But I think I might give this one a try. Actually think the last series I watched was in 2014 and it also had Matt Lanter in it. Hahahaha. Love the historical aspect of this! (Which is why I'm also considering watching The Crown). Thanks once again for a great review Rissi.

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    1. Ooo, was it Star-Crossed? I recently discovered that one, and enjoyed it, although I do think I have more episodes to watch! If you decide to give this one a shot, I do hope you enjoy it, Titi. I thought it was (so far) lots of fun and the historical parts of it are so cool. :)

      The Crown is, thus far, amazing! I'm a couple episodes in, and hope to have a review for it up next week. :)

      Thank you for reading! :)

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  2. Good review! I saw the trailers for this series and was intrigued. Now I'm definitely interested. As soon as it shows up on Netflix, I plan to watch it.

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    1. YAY! Hope you enjoy if/when you do see it, Lark. I thought it got off to a fabulous start, so I hope you enjoy it. :)

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  3. TIMELESS!!!! This is definitely my favorite in fall tv! I knew I was going to like it (because Matt Lanter!) but didn't know just how interesting it would be! Abigail Spencer is just perfect in this role. A perfect review, Rissi! :)

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    1. I started Star-Crossed with Matt, and haven't finished it. :) *insert sarcasm* What else is new? *she asks* But, I really like him in this - and the play between he and Abigail is fabulous. Thanks so much for reading, Bekah. :)

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  4. I'm still enjoying this series! Though it veers into some cheesy moments, it is, after all, about time travel. The characters are proving to have more depth (yay! I'm glad of this) and I'm very much liking the different eras we get to see. And, the writing is proving clever with the pop culture references sprinkled throughout (especially a recent ep in WWII Germany).

    Great review, Rissi! I look forward to discussing this further as the season moves along.

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    1. Glad to hear there is some depth to the characters, Courtney! I enjoyed what I saw of this, and am indeed looking forward to seeing more episodes. Hopefully I'll do that in the next day or two. (I was too busy with The Crown before now.)

      I love the aspect of "era hopping." It adds a lot of depth to the story and even the characters.

      Thanks so much for reading, Courtney - and me too! Cannot wait to chat more with you. :)

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