Saturday, May 19, 2018

Timeless: Will it Continue? Should It?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I'm not a science fiction person... for the most part. I have had a fascination with utopias and dystopias since middle school, but anything that involves aliens or the supernatural or mythical beasts is not for me. I was intrigued by Timeless first because of Goran Višnjić, as I was a big fan back in the days of ER, but I was also drawn because the show begs for extreme historical accuracy, which is something that brings me such peace I can't even explain it. The pilot had enjoyable moments for me, mainly how great Lucy knew history and how simply a single choice could affect so much in years to come. The premise of the drama is that there is an organization of people with a time machine who intend to change history in their favor, bits at a time, and there's another organization that tries to stop them, over and over.
Justin Lubin/NBC 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Episodes have visited generic time periods like 1940s Hollywood and Nazi-occupied Germany, but also very specific moments, like the Hindenberg Disaster, the height of the Salem Witch Trials, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. History has an audience, but it's not a huge one. The actors in this show aren't all totally unknowns, but they're not all A-listers, either. The pilot had over 7.5 million viewers, but after the first ten episodes, it never hit half of that again. The second season was more consistent, but wavering by only 500,000 viewers tends not to matter a whole lot when you're still under 3 million regardless. And, although critics like it, I expect it to be canceled again. (Yes, it was canceled in 2017 by NBC, but three days later, that decision was reversed.) NBC had its upfronts last week and gave no definitive remarks regarding the series' future. 

It's an expensive series to produce: every episode goes to different times and places, requiring elaborate sets and dozens of costumes difficult to reuse. I don't adore the show, and sometimes I'm tuned out for most the hour... but certain episodes have me on the edge of my seat, and I'd love to see more of that. In real life, I know a whopping one person who regularly tunes in, which is laughable in the day and age when watching episodes later in the week is more commonplace than seeing them live.

The audience is proven to be small. The fact that the network picked up FIVE dramas (and only two comedies) doesn't bode well. It could take a super hiatus and air summer 2019, but that's not really the best slot for a big-budget work. What do you think - will it be back?
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