Saturday, September 8, 2018

TV on DVD Review: Timeless - Season 1


Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun time travel
Cons: Conspiracy hard to follow early on; lack of consequences most episodes
The Bottom Line:
Chase through history
To stop a conspiracy
Lots of fun each week




“I’d Think Someone Who Loves History Would Want to Save It.”

When Timeless debuted in the fall of 2016, I was not looking for any new shows, especially Monday at 10 PM.  Castle had just ended that spring, and I was trying to free up some TV time on Mondays.  Raves from a friend who has shared several TV shows in common with me were promptly ignored - until she bought me the season 1 DVD set this past spring.  Even then, I resisted watching it for a few months.  When I finally did start watching the show, I found myself hooked - not that I was surprised.

The show takes time travel to a whole new level as we are racing through time to stop someone from changing the past.  You see, Connor (Paterson Joseph) and his company have created two time machines.  Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) has stolen the newer one, and is using it to change history.  Attempting to stop him are Lucy (Abigail Spencer), a historian, Wyatt (Matt Lanter), an army ranger, and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett), the pilot of the second time machine.  The first time they meet in the past, Garcia mentions something about an organization he is out to stop since they killed his family and hints that Lucy will help him in the future.  Is that the truth or is he trying to manipulate them?  Each time the team jumps, not only do they have to save history, but they learn a bit more about each other and the conspiracy.  Where will they jump next?

Actually, we travel through quite the range of locations, from Paris in the 1920's to the American Revolution, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and even Ohio in the 1980's.  Don't worry, there's only one time jump per episode, so it doesn't get too complicated with various time periods.  These jumps are always fun, with the characters geeking out over the historical figures they are meeting.  There’s also the obvious plot of the week as our heroes try to stop Garcia from completing his mission each week and get back without changing history.  Okay, with changing history as little as possible. 

Another reason I avoided getting into this episode was because I wasn't looking to get into another show that was heavy on the conspiracy.  That part still bothers me a bit, especially since this aspect of the show is a little hard to follow in the early episodes of the season.  As the season has gone on further, things are falling into place and I’m tracking better.

After the first trip back in time, Lucy finds some things in her personal life have changed drastically.  I got frustrated when nothing else changed even though parts of history get changed in every episode.  However, if the modern-day reality were being changed in every episode, it would be way too confusing for viewers.  I get that.  But still, with how much they've changed some history, you'd think we'd see some kind of ramifications other than a line or two when they arrive back in the present.

The show must have a huge budget because each episode looks amazing.  They have spared no expense with the locations and costumes that the actors wear each week.  Likewise, the effects are wonderful, and the acting is top notch.  The actors playing some of the historical figures we meet appear to be having a ton of fun.

Understandably, the show has a historian to help them get the details right.  As is often the case with historical fiction, I would caution against getting your history from a TV show.  For one thing, we are changing history with every episode, so what we see play out isn't what really happened.

In the first episode, Rufus makes a big deal about how history isn't good for African Americans, which is certainly true, but I braced myself for lectures each week about racism of the past.  I'm happy to say we don't get that.  Oh, don't get me wrong, they are showing it (or at least a very small fraction of it), but they are doing it without lectures or forgetting their main point is to entertain.

Season 1 consisted of sixteen episodes, and they are all here on four discs in their native widescreen and full frame.  In the way of extras, we have deleted scenes and a season long gag reel.

I must admit, one reason I waited so long to start this set after I got it was to find out the fate of the show.  I was much more willing to give it a shot when I learned we'd get a wrap up movie since I've heard season 2 ends with quite the cliffhanger.  Not that this one doesn’t have quite the twist at the end.

Just how hooked have I gotten on Timeless?  I finished season 1 last night and had already ordered the season 2 DVD set.  If you've been hesitating to start this show, now is the time.

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