Here’s why the Clockblockers deserve better than the ‘Timeless’ movie
It seems like only yesterday, but it’s a whole year since we had to say goodbye to another of our favorite shows: Timeless, the balls-to-the-wall and bonkers but brilliant timeline-hopping sci-fi series.
Timeless follows historian Lucy Preston and a team of unlikely cohorts tasked with capturing a group of thieves who plan to rewrite American history after stealing an experimental time machine.
Timeless was shut down last summer by NBC, the very same network that brought back the crowd-pleasing cop sitcom Brooklyn Nine Nine from its 24-hour coma. NBC pulled an Ebenezer Scrooge, granting Timeless fans, a.k.a. the Clockblockers, a meager two-part season finale special, “The Miracle of Christmas”, to wrap up the story.
This certainly filled the time-travelling hole left by the absence of Doctor Who for the first time in over a decade, but it didn’t do much for fans of the show, who expected at least a couple more seasons when NBC mercifully yanked it from its first cancellation scare. Outcry from fans has come fast and thick since the cancellation, and the much-anticipated finale attracted numbers that were surely impressive enough to make NBC execs sit up and pay attention.
The social media storm following Timeless’s cancellation was a large factor in getting a finale at all, and the series’s co-creator Shawn Ryan had some optimistic words to say in the wake of the Christmas episode’s warm reception.
Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Ryan declared his belief that Timeless shares similarities with one of its inspirations, Star Trek. “I keep thinking about how Star Trek was a TV show in the 60s, and then became movies in the 80s, and became a TV show again in the 90s, and then became movies again. I don’t know what form Timeless might take, but . . . we’ve been killed twice, and we’ve come back both times, so we’ll see.”
We spoke to some fans of the series about how they’re feeling following the show’s surprise axing last year, as well as what the show has meant to them since its premiere all the way back in 2016 – and what they really thought of the Timeless movie.
The fandom was pretty divided when it came to the feature-length finale. Some found the satisfaction was bittersweet, while others out-and-out hated it. Gretchen definitely admires the ambition of the project, but was still left wanting more:
Despite only having two hours to work with, Lauren Greer and Arika Lisanne Mittman did an amazing job taking what could have been a few seasons’ worth of material and condensing it into two hours of spectacular television. So for me it was an amazing finale. I just lament over what could have been had we been given a bit more time.
Samantha agrees that simply finishing the story sometimes isn’t enough. “Will Timeless fans ever be satisfied? Probably not! I would love for this show to run for 6 seasons or more, and there is plenty of untold history to carry the show that long.
That said, I adored the movie. I laughed and cried and had a goofy grin on my face the entire time.
Heather takes us back to what caught her attention about the show in the first place. “Their first promo where they’re running through doors of history: a good friend posted it on Facebook – plus the intrigue of how an action in the past can have rippling effects. Doctor Who doesn’t delve into that as much.”
I bought the first episode, then the second. I bought the entire season and bingewatched it in one weekend.
For many fans, it was the show’s feminist angle that kept them coming back each week. Melanie calls Lucy Preston “the best female character I’ve ever seen on a TV show”. “She’s strong and independent. She has a big heart and she’s prepared to sacrifice herself to protect the people she loves.”
Gretchen also identified deeply with Lucy. “As a fellow female historian, I relate to her passion for history. I love that as a character she is admired not for her beauty or looks, but for her intelligence – that is what she leads with and I love it.”
We’ve had our fair share of powerful women in sci-fi ever since Katniss Everdeen started notching arrows in The Hunger Games, but a female academic who just so happens to be a core member of a team of time-jumping badasses is almost too good to be true.
Samantha concurs. “It is so refreshing to watch a well-rounded, brilliant female protagonist. She never dumbs anything down for the men around her. She never uses her sexuality to accomplish her mission. She’s strong, feminine, smart, and willing to make tough decisions, and sacrifices to protect the innocent and the people she loves.”
Luckily, Timeless has boundless potential if network execs ever decide to wise up and give it another chance. Gretchen opines: “Given that Timeless is about time travel, our options are limitless on what we could see in future seasons, and I sincerely hope we get them. The show deserves it.”
Fellow Clockblocker Alyson has been with the show from day one and has no problem with a slightly reimagined version of the series. “I do think that any future possibilities for Timeless would potentially look different from what we’ve seen before, but in the current TV climate, reinvention is the name of the game.”
With a few months of closure behind us, we spoke to some dedicated Clockblockers about the #TimelessMovie and what they really thought.
“I loved the #Timeless NBC finale. The writers had a tough job – save Rufus, give answers and closure, include a Christmas mission. I liked how Flynn got to redeem himself and so happy for Rufus and Jiya getting back to each other (and of course Lucy and Wyatt and twins!).”
“The only POC of the main cast was set aside even though the whole purpose of the movie was meant to be about saving him. Instead it had plot holes, inconsistencies & went against the shows own time travel rules.”
“I like the movie. Stuff came full circle and it completed the main characters’ arcs. I know some people didn’t like Flynn dying, but you have to admit that he would do anything to see his family again.”
“I’m glad they saved Rufus, but how they handled his character in everything after that was so disappointing. I was and am still so incredibly disappointed, and a little flabbergasted at what they did with her. On so many levels.
“It felt like her trauma didn’t matter to the team or to the writers. For a dynamic, diverse ensemble show about history, the ensemble and the history both got badly shortchanged. It felt like the writers saw the rising tide of regressive politics and decided pivoting to a more socially conservative fan base would help their renewal chances.”
“I loved the #TIMELESS show..even the finale..a little rushed because they were trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible for the characters and us fans especially..I really want more #SaveTimeless.”
“It was written to satisfy one group of people. It lacked continuity and felt rushed. The actors were good, but the writing was terrible. One of the best characters, Rufus, was used as a plot device. An intriguing SciFi show was turned into a Harlequin romance novel. ”
“Head over heels in love with all of #Timeless , including the finale! The finale is a perfect Christmas gift. When it premiered I was crying tears of joy & sadness because it left a open ended beautiful story, I will always want more…”
“I felt it was unfortunately rushed. I was sorry that Flynn did not get to be with his family again, not really. I was actually very sorry that Jessica was killed. Couldn’t she have turned to the right side? (Also Carol ! ) Glad for Lucy and Wyatt. But I wish it hadn’t ended!”
“Oh no, don’t ask that question. I stopped watching after the first half because it was just that bad. I kept hoping it’d somehow start making sense and get better, but boy was I wrong! I’ve never been so let down by a series finale.”
“The WORST part about it was the complete erasure of almost the entirety of s2. All that character growth? GONE. For what? So the only ones who remember what a jackass Wyatt was are Lucy and Wyatt. How convenient.
“I wish I’d never watched it. It’s forever tainted the show for me. Nothing felt earned, characters suddenly dropped convictions that have driven them since the beginning, those that were obstacles to the chosen romance (that was being forced at light speed) were conveniently offed in the first half hr. ‘Save Rufus’ was a complete side note.”
“I loved the #Timeless movie. It was emotionally satisfying, it left beloved characters in a good place, and it kept up with the show’s aim of highlighting little known people and events in history, all despite the limited shooting time, budget, actor availability, and time frame.”
“The finale was bad. It tried to tie up every loose end, leaving no room for any future I’d be interested in. And it did so really poorly. Flynn’s goal was always to get his family back, not to gaze wistfully at them through a window. Seems only Lucy/Wyatt fans liked it.
“It would have made more sense to have Lucy single at the end, having saved Amy, her main motivation for agreeing to time travel in S1. Where the story left off in Chinatown, it made no sense for Lucy to end up w either man, IMO.
“But I’ve never loved #Timeless for the romance. The romance in the #Timeless finale was so forced, it was cringeworthy. More interesting scenes were omitted in favor of seemingly endless Lyatt scenes. I wanted badass Emma! For Lucy & Flynn to NOT give up hope! To learn more about Jiya’s visions! But the finale was all Lyatt.”
“Clockblockers deserve more #Timeless because of good writing.”
“It’s hard to go and admit you didn’t love something when it seems only positive reactions are the ones being repeated, and you’re supposed to be happy you got an ending at all. Making Jessica a villain was silly, and an easy plot device.
“I know they were pressed for time, but I really wish the finale made me love the team the way I had in the beginning. Not sure how they could continue, the show, but if they did I know it would have to include an alternate universe where Amy didn’t die, Flynn is alive, and Jessica, turned against Emma, and Rittenhouse’s dream world has happened. That would be something to see.”
“Yes and it seems like all Garcy fans hated it. even though Garcy was never ever gonna happen. Lyatt was always the plan. I also know a lot of people who don’t ship Lyatt, who loved the finale.”
“I accept only 210 ‘Chinatown’ as the #Timeless series finale. It’s such a good episode. Yes, there’s a cliffhanger but it leaves it open to however you want to interpret what happens next. It’s (near) perfect. It’s like looking at a color wheel to determine the opposite color of yellow/orange (blue).
“It is so poorly done. Post should be had more experience or more time to at least make those POS episodes look good, but maybe by that point no one cared because they knew the story was bad. What’s worse than the B-team though? The F-team? Because a B-team would’ve done better with writing the scripts.”
“I don’t watch GOT and know nothing of its finale yet still know it was better than #Timeless. Timeless freelance episode spit in the face of previous canon, plot, and characterizations. I watched the show thinking it WOULDN’T turn into something that cared only for lackluster romance. Just looking at the #Timeless freelance episodes is a nightmare. Truly horrible directing choices. You can watch orange half or blue half.
“I’ve seen extreme filters before, but responsible directors know moderation (night scenes or flashbacks). Everyone phoned that finale in. No one took the creation of those freelance #Timeless episodes seriously. Not the director. Not even the actors. And ESPECIALLY not the amateur-hour, fanfiction writers. Could not be more obvious the B-Team was in charge.”
“Bring Timeless back.”
“I thought they did everything they could with the allotted time. It was frustrating to get glimpses at things that would’ve been fun to watch play out over 10+ hours instead of 2, but it was a fitting conclusion. The Time After Time montage was .”
“It was an absolute insult to the entire series & makes no sense. Everyone is sidelined for a white het ship while the American boy becomes the hero & all his sins are wiped away costing one character his life. It’s an unsatisfactory mess that leaves you wishing it ended w 2×10. If I went into all the plot holes & loony logic this finale demonstrated, we would be here all day.
“To sum it up quickly, the writers of the finale wanted an end goal & forced this wonderful series to this end whether it made sense or respected established show canon. I really wanted to put at least one but I ran out of characters. Frankly I blame them all for Flynn’s death cause they did nothing to change it & it was right at their fingertips. It’s called LEAVE EMMA IN THE PAST.”
“(To those who enjoyed it, I’m happy you liked it and this is just my opinion but)… It honestly pains me to admit how much I hated the finale. I refuse to accept that tragedy as the conclusion to one of my favorite shows. They hyped SaveRufus and then pushed that and any character development from season 2 aside for what seemed to be Lyatt fan service. It was rushed, sloppy, and seemed OOC. I’ll rewatch every episode but that one.”
wait for iiiiiiiit kinsey
“I liked the finale! Especially the fact that they gave us a satisfying ‘ending,’ but left it open to maybe one day continue the story.”
“I guess a movie is better than nothing. But I had high hopes we’d get another season when the time machine was saved from demolition. Looks like NBC isn’t really interested in history, although I’d say all of us learned things from the show we were never taught in history books.”
“It was as if S1 and 2 had never existed before.”
“I mean, I wanted to make sure I was as accurate and truthful as possible. I did like Flynn’s jacket. Otherwise? Oh, #TimelessTravesty, how I loathe you. You lack the depth of a 1950s sitcom & the hairball my cat puked up is more interesting. I’d rather mow my lawn than ever subject my eyes to that bored housewife wet dream again. In the end, the fuckboi saves the world. Oh. Yay.”
“I’m still working on forgetting that it ever happened so I can regain my love for the series. Because frankly? This ruined it. I can’t watch without seeing Lucy’s face and her smug grin while seeing Flynn in São Paulo. Knowing she’s about to condemn him for her own happiness. Jiya’s trauma, and the fact that her memories are COMPLETELY different than the man she loves? Ignored.
“Lucy gave up her sister. Flynn gave up on his family. This thing was the ‘Wyatt show’ at the expense of everyone else. Everyone (including W) was OOC to make him look good. The “OG3” became the villains of their own story by manipulating Flynn; a broken, desperate man; into doing terrible things in order to preserve their own HEA. Time travel rules were ignored or changed.
“Rufus was turned into a prop and a cheerleader for the pretty white couple. I was literally in shock and then tears watching it. It was so absolutely horrible, I couldn’t understand how a show I loved could become….that. Every single plotline was tossed out the window in order to force a relationship at the expense of every single other character.”
“I was thrilled with the movie, and considering the Herculean task faced by the writers to wrap up 26 episodes in less than 90 minutes of screen time, I felt it admirably tied up quite a few loose ends.”
“I still don’t understand how Lucy says she will not be a doormat and be second place and then like 5 minutes later she throws that all out the window and falls into bed with the emotional terrorist.”
“After 25 episodes of Lucy fighting to save her sister, she just… gave up. After 26 eps trying to bring his family back (not just peer at them thru a window), Flynn just… gave up. It killed 2 characters to force this relationship. And it glorified suicide.”
“It should have ended on Chinatown, because that was an amazing finale while the two hour movie was horrible. It erased almost all of season 2 with all of the character development along with it. So many things about it made no sense and truly ruined the amazing show it once was.”
“The Timeless Christmas special was just horrible. They disregarded all their own time travel rules, the characters were all OOC, and it was frankly boring. The history aspect was missing. I hated it. It’s one of the worst finales I’ve ever seen.”
“Honestly, the writers did what they could with the little time they had. They ended season 2 on a major cliffhanger and had to tie up some loose ends. The problem, however, is how do you do that? I think the writers did an amazing job not only tying up loose ends but still leaving enough open possibility for more.
“While some may not have liked it, with time travel anything can change. The fact we see someone designing time machines the time loop may be disturbed. One jump in the past can put a wrench in the time teams plans. Just like Lucy in future being able to change the future giving her journal to Flynn, now someone who isn’t connected can inadvertently change the past like similar to the loss of Amy.
“I want more because the show it is amazing and deserves so much more and while I am fan of the love story I am a bigger fan of the history. The effect the show has had on many myself included. Thinking of what has happened over the past year … I hope they make more.
“This show deserves more not just for seeing our favourite time team… but the highlights to forgotten history as well as highlights to minorities. I hope networks know Clockblockers won’t stop fighting. We are in it for the long haul and while we may be resting now in some cases… we are never fully dormant. We are still active.”
“Nice if we could get 2 TV movies a year at least. Maybe novelizations as well.”
Allison Reed Gregory
“I’m still holding out hope that Timeless will renew or be relaunched. Such a great educational and family show.”
Featuring one of television’s most likable casts and the most riveting time-travel plots of the last few years, we hope that Timeless will be saved. The fans deserve more than the lackluster finale they were given. Let’s #SaveTimeless, even if it means stealing an experimental time machine of our own.