What: Timeless, a new show for the 2016 Fall season
Where: NBC, which used to be a popular tee-vee network back when I was a kid
When: Monday nights (or anytime on Amazon)
Why: A fun show reminiscent of 1980s adventure shows (complete with dim-witted action hunk!)
The first new show of the 2016 Fall season that I feel comfortable recommending is NBC’s Timeless. I only know two people who still have a television, so if you are either of them, check your local listings when this airs week-to-week. I watched the episode this morning on NBC’s website but it’s also available on Amazon. It’s a show that I’d actually be happy paying the season pass subscription for.
Timeless reminds me of Voyagers! and Time Cop with a little Man in the High Castle and Sliders. For those not lucky enough to remember the gorgeousness that was Jon-Erik Hexum, he was my first-ever crush…star of a time-travel show in the 1980s about fixing things that went wrong in the timeline. That’s what Voyagers! was all about, but mainly people tuned in for all the handsomeness. Time Cop was a movie with Jean-Claude van Damme, but it was also a tee-vee show that aired for just one season. It’s premise was similar to Voyagers!, in that the Time Cops had to go back in time to fix things that bad guys did to alter the time stream. Man in the High Castle is a current Amazon Prime show about alternate universes where history worked out differently…which is also the concept of Sliders, more or less. Suffice it to say, I appear to really enjoy shows about time travel and alternate histories and unapologetic handsomeness.
For a few years now, NBC has seemed like a very depressing network. I still watch a few shows, like Law & Order: SVU, but NBC is not the “Must See Tee-Vee” that I remember it being in the 80s and 90s. When I was a kid, there were a lot of adventure shows on NBC, in addition to funny comedies. Then in the 2000s, NBC started airing really bleak and depressing shows. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Bye, Phylicia (Rashad)!
It’s weird how many ’80s things are coming back right now, with even a reboot of Dynasty supposedly ordered for the CW network. Last tee-vee season, NBC also talked about rebooting Hart to Hart, but with two gay dudes as the detectives. I wish they had done that, because it would have been fun, but something happened and now they pretend like they never announced that show was coming. I wonder if these ’80s throwbacks are premonitions of history echoing itself…with Trump poised to win the current presidential election in the way that Reagan followed all those years of Carter’s malaise. The same forces that hungered for an end to depressing bleakness back then might be doing the same thing now, which would mean a Republican wins this election to set the country back on the right track. We’ll see in 34 days, won’t we?
But, back to Timeless. The show’s pretty much like Time Cop in that bad guys have stolen a ship (which I call “The Time Tickler”) and they are using it in a complicated, seasons-long scheme to do something to the timeline to either create a utopia or avert some disaster or maybe cause the apocalypse. The first episode involves shadowy agents using the Time Tickler to head back to 1937 to stop the Hindenburg from exploding on arrival in New Jersey. Their plan was to detonate a bomb and destroy the Hindenburg on its return flight to Germany instead…because apparently some very important people were going to be aboard on that return flight, as they were headed to the coronation of King George VI (Queen Elizabeth II’s father, who became king after his brother Edward VIII decided he’d rather sleep with some divorced woman than serve his people as his duty required). The Shadowmen seemingly wanted to kill people who would later be instrumental in the American war effort…and taking them out by exploding the Hindenburg on its way back to Europe was a way they thought they could do that. I’m guessing their larger intent was to prevent the Allies from winning the war, but I’m sure they’ll get to that later in the season(s). There is a whole lot of time to tickle, after all.
The people sent to stop the Shadowmen are: (1.) Lady Professor, (2.) Captain Handsome, and (3.) Angry Black. Lady Professor was mad at the start of the episode because some guy she was sleeping with would not help her get tenure at her university. She claims she worked really hard for tenure. I bet she did. Wallis Simpson sure worked hard too, but that didn’t work out the way she planned either. Captain Handsome is a member of Delta force and, sadly, is straight…because he moans about his wife who passed away. I was hoping they’d be all PC and make Captain Handsome gay, but they didn’t do that. I need to retreat to my safe space because of that homophobic micro aggression. Angry Black is along for the ride in this too, but I’m not sure why. I guess he drives the second Time Tickler they use to chase the bad guys. Angry Black’s main purpose in the first episode was just to moan about how bad black people had it decades ago: he talks about sitting at the back of the bus, about people not wanting to talk to him, and he gets a speech where he goes off on some cop and says that he hopes he lives a long time and gets to see Michael Jordan dunk a basketball and Michael Jackson dance and OJ be acquitted of murder and Obama become president. So, I’m guessing that in every episode, Angry Black will have a moment like this, where he goes on about how terrible white people are…and how no historic wounds are ever allowed to heal, how our society is never permitted to move forward, because Angry Black (who wasn’t even born when any of these terrible things were happening) is forever angry about all this.
Lady Professor and Captain Handsome mostly ignore Angry Black and don’t respond to any of his moaning, which is funny to me. He’s totally just saying these things because the Black Lives Matter Social Justice Snowflakes want to hear this grievance-mongering, but everyone else on the show is doing something else while he’s ranting and raving. That was pretty hilarious.
What I enjoyed about Timeless was that they didn’t neatly wrap up their mission. The trio is pretty dim-witted, to be honest. Captain Handsome is gorgeous and fun to look at, but he’s dumb as rocks. He’s like sending Ryan Lochte back in time and expecting him to do good. I would watch that show too, and love it. Though let’s be honest that all of us would love it even more if they sent him back naked like in the Terminator movies, instead of in a Time Tickler ship like on Timeless. Lady Professor/Captain Handsome/Angry Black fail to stop the bad guys from saving the Hindenburg when it was supposed to blow up upon docking…but the bad guys manage to blow it up anyway as it was departing the next day. The trio did stop the murder of everyone who would have died on that return flight, but they allowed the bad guys to save the lives of everyone who was originally killed on the Hindenburg when it exploded in our timeline.
That means 36 people who died in our history didn’t die…and that alters the timeline (as well as history changing, where the Hindenburg explodes a day later upon departure, not on the day of its arrival). The first episode of Timeless ends with a fun twist, in that Lady Professor goes home and her sister no longer exists and her mother (who was dying from cancer in our timeline) is doing great and cooking dinner. So something about those 36 people surviving the crash of the Hindenburg or the Hindenburg exploding a day later changed history enough to wipe out Lady Professor’s sister Amy and spare her mother from horrific cancer. Lady Professor was also engaged in the new timeline, though it wasn’t said to whom. No word on what changes happened to Captain Handsome’s or Angry Black’s lives in the new timeline. I bet that get into that in episode two.
So, here is what I expect from this series:
* Each episode will go to someplace interesting in history, which will be fun to watch.
* Lady Professor is there to tell us all about why that piece of history is important and who all the players are in that episode.
* Captain Handsome will run, jump, punch, and hopefully get shirtless as much as possible.
* Angry Black will moan, whine, complain, and gripe about how everyone throughout history hated black people.
* Each episode will tease some insight into what the Shadowmen are up to with their Time Tickler, because it’s all part of some master plan to do something in our timeline.
* I bet the bad guys will end up not really being bad guys after all, in another big twist…and that what they are trying to do is create a utopia, not an apocalypse. If I had to hazard a guess, since the Black Lives Matter stuff is already being folded in, I would guess that the Shadowmen are really trying to stop Global Warming or something. So they think they are the “good guys” from NBC’s perspective…and all of this is part of some plan to prevent the sea levels from rising, which is what the writers on a show like this would think is a clever use of a Time Tickler.
Now, I am someone who can watch a show like this and not be upset by Angry Black’s ranting. If you are someone who just can’t stomach that, just know it’s only here and there that he does this and he might stop doing it eventually. But in this pilot episode, Angry Black was really into saying “there’s no point in history that is awesome for black people.” To that I say that there’s no part of Africa that’s awesome for black people and at some point don’t black people share some responsibility for that? At what point will the moaning and whining stop and the responsibility for their own futures start? Maybe that can be explored in a future episode.
The special effects and production values on this show were pretty terrific. This is light years better than Voyagers!, Time Cop, and Sliders and on par with the great effects in Man in the High Castle. NBC is spending a lot on this show and I believe it’s the only show they bothered to advertise for this new season. They put all their eggs into this one basket, and I dare say it’s not deplorable.
So watch it. Or don’t watch it. Do what you want, really. I don’t care either way. It’s not like Captain Handsome is my boyfriend and I need you to watch his show. But I will be watching this week to week and I almost never do that for anything on NBC…so it was all worth mentioning.
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© 2016, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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