Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

A Timeless Plea

Your regularly scheduled column is being pre-empted so I can boost the signal on this IMPORTANT matter.

Okay, a few weeks ago I did a column about a new show we really like a lot. Timeless. Mondays on NBC.

It’s a delightful take on one of my favorite SF tropes– the plucky team of super-smart people putting themselves in great danger to save humanity. You can trace its ancestry directly back to the ‘hard’ science fiction tales of two-fisted engineers as depicted in classic stories by Asimov and Heinlein and Clarke and, most especially, Poul Anderson’s books about the Time Patrol.

Anderson time Patrol

Timeless, I swear to God, is the Time Patrol done for today’s television audience. It’s very modern in its production and its approach to the story, but wonderfully Campbellesque in its depiction of history and of the government program tasked with protecting the timeline… as well as the rogue engineer that is determined to rewrite history for his own unknown purposes.

So far they’ve done episodes featuring James Bond author Ian Fleming’s time in the OSS…

timeless ian fleming

…rescuing Apollo 13 with the help of the lady mathematicians at NASA as seen in Hidden Figures— and they did it BEFORE Hidden Figures was in theaters, even….

timeless NASA mathematicians

…recruiting Harry Houdini at the World’s Fair to save the team from serial killer H.H. Holmes and his murder hotel….

timeless houdini murder hotel

…and last night they did the outlaw Jesse James vs. Marshal Bass Reeves (who many have said was the real-life inspiration for Fran Striker’s Lone Ranger.)

timeless bass reeves

It’s just tremendous fun, smart SF on television, which is not something we get a lot of. This is the time-travel show that Legends of Tomorrow can only dream of being.

Okay? So that’s the preamble. Here’s the Important Matter. This is from the show’s producer and co-creator, Eric Kripke.

timeless plea from kripke

Now, here’s the thing. Timeless is the co-creation of the above-named Mr. Kripke… and Shawn Ryan.

Shawn Ryan that did The Shield… and more importantly, Terriers, a hard-boiled Chandleresque private-eye show we loved that only lasted one season.

Terriers Shawn Ryan

And Last Resort, a show we loved that only got HALF a season. At least that one got a DVD release.

I’ll level with you. I’m tired of falling in love with Shawn Ryan TV shows only to have them canceled just as they’re starting to get really good. So I am passing along Eric Kripke’s plea and asking you to spread the word. Check Timeless out if you haven’t already, and tell your friends. I think you’ll dig it. Do it for me and my wife Julie, and for Kripke, and especially for Shawn Ryan, who really deserves for this one to be a hit.

You could even do it for Leslie Jones, she digs Timeless too.

Back next week with something cool.


  1. I second Greg’s recommendation for TIMELESS. It’s good goofy fun, and I hope it sticks around. I watched the Jesse James/Marshal Bass Reeves/Lone Ranger episode last night, and the cinematography was absolutely GORGEOUS. Snow-covered mountaintops and woods as the team tracked Jesse James through the countryside. One of the best-looking episodes of television I’ve seen all year.

    Although knowing that Leslie Jones also likes the show gives me pause. I can’t stand her. But aah, screw it — TIMELESS is too much fun! I STAND WITH LESLIE!!!

    It REALLY bugs me how Scott Speedman’s head is bigger than Andre Braugher’s in that ad for LAST RESORT, though.

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    Not to be that guy; but (Oh, hell, I am that guy!) Fleming wasn’t in the OSS or even the SOE. He worked with the head of Naval Intelligence, in a staff position. He did work with Col. William Donovan in developing the organizational plan for what became the OSS. Fleming was an idea man (especially wild ideas) and administrator, though he did oversee the intelligence commando unit 30 Assault Unit, which pulled off some amazing coups, especially in Sicily and Italy.

    Still, sounds like a cool show (which I haven’t seen).

      1. From the original column I wrote about the show…

        Since the show’s already in an alternate timeline it’s the perfect out to take artistic license with this or that inconvenient fact that might get in the way of the fun. Like, for example, I know damn well that when Ian Fleming was working with OSS during World War II he wasn’t any kind of actual operative behind German lines, but the episode was so worth it– especially when Rufus whispers to Wyatt, “Is James Bond hitting on Lucy?” and then the team returns to the present to discover that there’s a James Bond novel set during World War II that didn’t exist before. Stuff like that.

        I was a moderator on the CBR boards for a decade. I’m always braced for That Guy.

  3. Le Messor

    The show does look cool. Is it just me, did you grab those screen shots from pre-production stills… or is it actually in Colour? *gasp*
    That alone would make it worth the support.

    (I can’t watch it live on NBC, I’m afraid. One of the disadvantages of living in Australia.)

  4. M.S. Wilson

    I actually hadn’t been watching Timeless until I read your original write-up, but I caught up on all the episodes and you were right … it’s a great show. I do watch live every Monday, but I’m in Canada, which is probably meaningless to U.S. advertisers (and obviously, I don’t have a Nielsen box).

    I’ll put a link to this post on my blog, though, if that helps 🙂

  5. mattatlove

    It’s a great show, and well supported by our E4 channel in England with a 10pm slot, repeated in the early hours of the next morning (which is when I usually catch it), but all I can do from here is wish you luck with those NBC figures. m

  6. mattatlove

    Oh, and because most* English ‘niche’ channels like E4 don’t adhere to your weird American obsession of having a mid-season break, they start series later so can deliver an uninterrupted run.
    Which of course most people (and broadcasters) over here prefer because if there was a break we’d all become distracted by Brexit and might never remember to tune back in.
    *Sky TV breaks the DC shows over Christmas; C4 doesn’t even start the latest series of Marvel’s Agents of Shield for another couple of weeks, so it’s swings and roundabouts

  7. John King

    like mattatlove, I’ve been watching it on E4 at 9 pm, just before Supernatural (E4+1 has it at 10pm)
    I have recommended it to a guy at the local science fiction club but nothing I can do about U.S. ratings
    I believe the Apollo episode is next week

    and to correct mattalove
    UK broadcast of Season 4 of Agents of Shield begins tonight
    (I’ll be recording it, buying the season 3 DVD watching the last episode [missed due to loss of reception] and then watching the new episode…)

  8. Terrible-D

    I know I’m only one person, but after watching all twelve episodes this weekend, you have another convert. I personally love time travel stories (Quantum Leap was a favorite while growing up), mentioning Ryan’s involvement in Terriers is what sold me. I only hope that I’m not the only late comer being made aware of this show, and that it can build enough of an audience to carry on. I watched Terriers from the premier, and it was the first time I had to deal with a fantastic show not getting nearly the credit it deserved while it was airing.

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