Why #Clockblockers want to turn back time on ‘Timeless”s cancellation
2018 may have seemed like a year of victories for television fans, who have seen the likes of Brooklyn Nine Nine and The Expanse cancelled for a few fleeting, yet painful, moments – only to be resurrected by the mad geniuses at other networks. Sadly, not every fandom has had their moment.
Of course we’re still pissed Shadowhunters isn’t getting the fourth and fifth seasons it deserves, but June became a cancellation wasteland and 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 this 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, or “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 been coming thick and fast since June, 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 the cancellation was a large factor in Timeless 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 this year, as well as what the show has meant to them since its premiere all the way back in 2016. While fans were pretty much unanimously onboard with what the feature-length finale delivered, the satisfaction was bittersweet. Gretchen definitely admired the ambition of the project, but was still left wanting more.
“Despite only having two hours to work with, [co-writers] 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 agreed 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 took 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 called 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 with Lucy in a huge way. “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 concurred. “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.”
Emily went even further to define just how enriching this character has been for her over the course of two seasons.
“It’s so refreshing to see someone that is not only endearingly relatable, with attainable heroic qualities, but who exists outside of the labels of ‘friend’, ‘sister’, ‘daughter’, ‘wife’, or ‘mother’. She’s all those things and more. Abigail Spencer portrays Lucy with such genuine heart wrapped in quiet subtleties of grief, effervescent wonder, and hope, it’s hard not to absolutely adore the character.”
The finale might be behind us, but most of the fans are still looking forward to the future. One fan in the UK was still racking her brains around one plot thread left dangling. “I do wish that we had found out why Flynn’s family was killed by Rittenhouse [the secret organization providing shadowy conflict and compelling mysteries].
“I think the show could be saved. I would like to learn more about Flynn, but it could maybe continue with Lucy and Wyatt’s kids as adults. The last scene of the finale left it open for continuation. I will definitely keep fighting to #SaveTimeless.”
Samantha agreed. “I will absolutely keep fighting. This show is too well done, too inclusive, too important, not to fight for more.” She made valid points about the show’s potential role as we move into a world dominated ever more by online streaming sites.
“Timeless’s problem from the start has always been live viewing – a natural consequence of putting a family-friendly show on at 10pm. The delayed viewing numbers are high. A platform like Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Netflix should snatch up the show. I would subscribe without hesitation to whatever platform picks it up, and I know I’m not alone in that.”
If networks aren’t willing to strike up a better deal with their online competition, they need to start waking up to the fact that overnight viewing figures aren’t gospel when it comes to a show’s popularity.
Luckily, Timeless has boundless potential if network execs ever decide to wise up and give it another chance. Gretchen opined: “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 had 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.
“I will definitely keep fighting. So long as Sony and the cast & crew are interested in keeping Timeless going, whatever that looks like, I’m in.”
Featuring one of television’s most likable casts and the most riveting time-travel plots of the last few years, we’re determined to #SaveTimeless, even if it means stealing an experimental time machine of our own.