Timeless: Pilot – The Hindenburg and Consequences (Review)

 Timeless - Season Pilot

Time travel on television is nothing new. The Time Tunnel, starring a young James Darren, aired in 1966 and 1967. In literature H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine in 1895. Wells’ book was made into a film in 1960 and was remade in 2002.

There have been variations of the book’s  time travel premise that quite possibly reaches the hundreds. On television alone there has been Sliders, Quantum Leap,  and Life on Mars, to name but three. In film there has been Looper, Back to the Future – the trilogy – and Time After Time (the latter film has been made into a television series that will debut in 2017), again to name but three.

Timeless is based on time travel but the premise is more than that. The “villain” of the piece, Garcia Flynn is going back and changing history. There is no clear indication as to what end he is aspiring to but in the first episode he stops the Hindenburg from exploding.

While that seems like a good thing, it is not. Flynn sets a bomb to explode on the airship’s return journey. This explosion is set to kill all on board. The flight will contain historically important figures like John D. Rockefeller Jr. who will start the forerunner of the UN, the League of Nations.

The episode starts with a re-creation of the Hindenburg explosion on May 6, 1937. After the death of a camera woman the show returns to present day.

Timeless then shows  Lucy Preston teaching  her history course. She learns that her tenancy in is danger and returns home to her terminally ill mother and sister Amy.

Garcia Flynn and his men enter Connor Mason’s company and steal their time machine. After the theft of the time travel device, Preston and Wyatt Logan are called in to stop Flynn from changing history.  Rufus, a coder for Connor Mason’s time travel program is enlisted to help “fly” the  backup prototype machine, known as the “lifeboat.”

Timeless - Season Pilot
Flynn in 1937.

The team follow Flynn back to New Jersey, May 6 1937. They must stop Flynn even though they have no idea what he is up to.

Timeless uses the premise that the time travelers cannot meet themselves which puts a boundary on their future missions.  The “good guys” have Logan as the muscle, Lucy as the historical expert and Rufus as the pilot and good all-rounder.

There are some familiar faces in this series. Paterson Joseph fresh from You, Me and the Apocalypse,  Sakina Jaffrey from Mr. Robot and Matt Frewer from Orphan Black (and a whole slew of other projects).

In terms of familiar faces, or at least faces that resemble other actors, Goran Visnjic, with that haircut, looks uncannily like Clint Walker (Cheyenne, Kodiak).

The pilot manages to do a lot in the time given.  There is the irony of the Billie Holliday song playing on a jukebox in a bar where Rufus is not welcome. The inherent racism of the times, the 1930’s, makes the viewer as uncomfortable as it does Rufus.

Logan turns out to be a jack-of-all-trades military man who can pick a jail cell lock with a brassiere underwire.  He gives the impression of being able to take care of himself no matter what time period he might be in.

The team manage to intercept Flynn but the return flight explodes anyway. Logan defuses the bomb but one of Flynn’s flunkies shoots a gun on the airship causing it to explode. This time, however, only two lives are lost.

Timeless - Season Pilot

Flynn and Preston talk and he shows her a book in her handwriting.  He tells her to ask about “Rittenhouse.” Clearly there is a lot going on here that no one but Flynn knows about.

Wyatt tries to save war correspondent and journalist Kate Drummond (Obviously a nod to the popular Bulldog Drummond pictures of the 1920’s and ’30’s.) but fails the second time after the confrontation with Flynn.

Before the mission, Agent Christopher warns Lucy that the team must change nothing. When they return and Preston goes home, she calls for her sister. There is no answer and she begins to panic. Her mother is in the kitchen cooking dinner.

The woman is no longer ill and Amy, it seems, never existed. The explosion of the Hindenburg the day after the original event has obviously changed the world.

As a fan, albeit a very young one, of The Time Tunnel, any film or television show about time travel like  this new series  is irresistible. While not all shows  are created equal, however,  Timeless has managed to impress. With the change of Lucy’s life from this first mission, it is clear that each trip will create some differences in the present.

Spencer, Lanter and Barrett are brilliant together and have an excellent chemistry.  Out of the three, Barrett was the splendid frosting on this episodic cake.  Visnjic makes splendid adversary and despite looking eerily like Clint Walker, sounds nothing like the actor, which would have been  very disconcerting.

Timeless airs Mondays on NBC.  This one looks like a winner so stop by and check it out either on-demand or on Hulu.

Cast:

Guest starring Shantel VanSanten as Kate Drummond, Bailey Noble as Amy and Matt Frewer as Anthony Bruhl.