NBC’s ‘Timeless’ will get a finale, but two hours is not enough
The road for the Timeless fans has been about as straightforward as a fluffed travel through time. Since launching in 2016, NBC’s show starring Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, and Malcolm Barrett as an unlikely time-travelling trio has garnered a dedicated fandom made up of so-called Clockblockers. So of course the network killed the show after one season, before being picked up again for a tumultuous ten more episodes following a fan reaction of epic proportions.
The second season aired this year and like the first, it satisfied audiences and even served up a leaner, smarter, and funnier narrative driven by the characters, their chemistry, and their time-travelling hijinx. As they battled it out with some spiced-up villains, our heroes were taken to new places as they sought sleeper agents hidden throughout history and visited such historical figures as Marie Curie, Hedy Lamarr, William Randolph Hearst, Harriet Tubman, and a legion of other influential people of the past.
It was a resounding success – surely the choppy waters had settled and it was only smooth sailing from now on, right?
Wrong! Following on from S2’s success, NBC once again made the decision to axe the show in June due to “modest ratings”, although as has been shown in many similar cases to Timeless, live metrics don’t necessarily point to a show’s success or lack thereof.
1. This is a sad day for the writers, actors, crew and especially the viewers of Timeless. We are all extremely proud of what we made and know that it was more than just a show for so many of our fans. It became a passion and a cause for many of them. https://t.co/FPbySi7LXZ
— Shawn Ryan (@ShawnRyanTV) June 22, 2018
1. @SPTV has notified @TheRealKripke and me that efforts to land #Timeless at another network have sadly failed. While Sony will continue to look at any and all options, actor deals have expired and it appears there will be no Season 3 or beyond.
— Shawn Ryan (@ShawnRyanTV) July 2, 2018
It was a sad day for the Clockblockers, but the fight was not over – in the past several months, we’ve seen successful online campaigns bring about the revival of axed shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, One Day at a Time, and Lucifer.
Spurred on by co-creator and exec producer Shawn Ryan’s suggestion of a potential two-hour movie and by the power of the hashtag, the Timeless fandom got to work, spreading the word on social media, launching a petition to bring the show back, and (similarly to the #SaveShadowhunters campaign) raising money to hire two helicopters to fly a #SaveTimeless banner over the SDCC, which was live streamed online.
— Chris Parnell (@ChrisFParnell) July 22, 2018
The message was heard loud and clear and, as was announced yesterday, NBC will bring back Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus for a special two-part Timeless series finale.
“We’re excited to tell one final chapter to this incredible story,” announced Lisa Katz, co-president, scripted programming, NBC Entertainment. “A huge thank you to all – our cast, crew, producers, and partners at Sony – who have worked so very hard, and to the fans who kept us on our toes and made sure we did our very best week after week.”
Despite the fawning celebration of NBC’s decision to “save” the show and give fans what they want, we can’t help but feel it’s somewhat of a fob off when Timeless quite clearly had so much more of its story to tell than a two-part finale.
Similar to that of Netflix’s sci-fi LGBTQI love letter Sense8, the network has seen the backlash to the show’s cancellation and thrown a fast and dirty finisher at it. As such, Sense8’s finale felt a little rushed and led to a rebirth of the save S3 campaign.
Don't you just feel your heart smile everytime you see them like this? We need more of them, we want to see their stories that are left untold!
Bring them back @netflix! #WeWantSense8Season3 pic.twitter.com/e1ovnVTDRR
— Asensie (@Asensie1) July 2, 2018
Firefly is another one we’re still 100% bitter about, remaining to this day one of the greatest shows Fox cancelled after just one season. The show was doomed from the start through no fault of its own, as the network just didn’t jump aboard with the plot, character developments, and the entire concept of the show, and in 2002 it was heartlessly axed after eleven of the fourteen produced episodes were aired.
Despite the outcry from fans (to this day) for the return of Nathan Fillion as a tight-panted space cowboy, the show was not resurrected and instead creator Joss Whedon convinced Universal to buy the rights from Fox and turn whatever was left of Firefly into the cut-price feature film, Serenity. It was a bittersweet offering from what was left of the franchise and while the film was a fun sci-fi ride that did justice to the show, it was still nowhere near enough time for the story of Firefly to be explored in a satisfying and long-lasting manner.
When shows like Timeless, Shadowhunters, and Firefly have so much potential, one or two seasons is just not enough – the fans deserve more than a two-hour special in which the characters’ journeys are wrapped up in a speedy bid to satisfy the fandom and allow the networks to dust of their hands and shout out “good job” as they move onto the next cash cow.
When it comes to Timeless, exec producers Ryan and Eric Kripke had so much more to give, stating that they wish they “could’ve made another dozen seasons of Timeless,” before explaining the two-part special “is the next best thing.”
But as the Clockblockers have so mercifully shown, they don’t want the next best thing – they want to see their favorite trio travelling through time on their Lifeboat for years to come. So yes, the Timeless finale is a victory, but one that is tainted with the dreams of what could’ve been. Perhaps in another time, in another dimension, Timeless could’ve avoided the axe of today’s TV networks and gone on to enjoy many more seasons for years to come.