A race through time to save the future and protect the past!
On Hulu | 2016–2018 | TV-14 | 2 seasons, 45-minute episodes
Genre: Action Adventure
Why I watched: Last summer, newsletter subscriber Margaret suggested we watch this show, and ever since then, I've been savoring the series' two seasons. Here's what she wrote: "You guys must check out Timeless. It’s a highly underrated show with an insane fan following. It was canceled after its first season, only to be brought back after a Twitter uprising by fans, then canceled after the second season only to be brought back AGAIN due to the fan base! (Kind of: They’re making a 2-hour movie finale.) That’s how wonderful the show is." Well, Margaret, you were right! This show is a treat!
You might also like: While I very much like Timeless and think it's a real shame the show was cancelled, Doctor Who (on Amazon Prime) is still my OG favorite time-travel story. Doctor Who, which has been airing on BBC since 1963, follows the adventures of a Time Lord called "the Doctor" who travels through time and space, saving the universe from a different disaster each episode. If you're new to Doctor Who, start with the contemporary Season 2 (2006), which features David Tennant as the 10th Doctor. (Conveniently, one feature of Time Lords is that they can be reincarnated, i.e., allowing for infinite future seasons to come!)
What do a history professor, computer programmer, and former Delta Force soldier have in common? In Timeless, it's up to this unlikely trio to protect the past and save the future from an underground secret society bent on changing history. Think National Treasure meets Back to the Future!
Lucy (Abigail Spencer) is beyond smart, guiding the team with her genius-level understanding of historical events. Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) provides them with crucial tech savvy, piloting their time machine the "Lifeboat" out of increasingly tighter spots over and over again. And if Lucy and Rufus can't engineer a solution to the problem, then Wyatt (Matt Lanter) is there to shoot their way out! Whether it's a World War II battlefield or the Salem Witch Trials, each episode is full of narrow misses and great escapes. Between conspiracy theories, sleeper agents, and alterations to the timeline, there really isn't a dull moment!
My favorite part about this show is that it knows what it's good at. The historical touch points are well balanced between obscure and canonical events, with lots of fun cameos including Bonnie and Clyde, Marie Curie, Ernest Hemingway, JFK, and more. The character building is rich, offering the three heroes vibrant backstories, but also giving supporting characters a lot of depth. The acting comes off as genuine, even when the writing is a little far-fetched. Romance, adventure, and history interweave in a way that reminds me of the Indiana Jones franchise at its best. (So, definitively less sexism and racism.) Honestly, there's very little to dislike about Timeless—except, of course, that there are too few episodes!
There aren't many shows that are this consistently entertaining, which is why it's such a surprise that it was cancelled. But with the number of scripted series having more than doubled since 2010, competition to stay on the air is getting stiffer and stiffer. Fans saved the series from cancellation after the first season, and tried desperately to save it after the second. While we won't get anymore episodes, we will get a made-for-TV movie this Thursday, December 20 at 8p EST on NBC. (And thank goodness: Season two ends with a substantial cliffhanger, and I cannot survive on fan fiction alone.)
I enjoyed taking this slowly, but you could easily binge watch it between now and the New Year. Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy the adventure while it lasts!
Safe time travels this holiday season, and happy streaming! Liz