‘Timeless’ series premiere review: Does NBC have a hit with time-travel drama?

Since the upfronts earlier this spring, we’ve seen NBC put an enormous amount of stock into “Timeless.” This drama starring Abigail Spencer was heavily promoted for months as one of the next big things. If nothing else, we certainly know that this is capitalizing on TV’s latest trend: Bouncing around from one era to the next.

For the most part, though, we would say that this premiere did manage to deliver largely what we wanted, and that was excellent escapism that makes you think without making you over-think. We think of it almost as a “Da Vinci Code” for time-travel. If you spend all of your time thinking about rules and mechanics, maybe it won’t work so well. However, if you look at it as entertainment on a Monday night, it delivers. You’ve got capable leads, great costuming, and some pretty crazy twists — including the ones that very end of the pilot.

Spencer stars on the show as Lucy, a history professor who learns of a secret project and is recruited to travel back in time in order to preserve the future. You see, a mystery man named Flynn (Goran Visnjic) has taken a newer version of a time machine and is using it potentially to wreck history and destroy America from the past. Lucy’s got some help, whether it be a man in Wyatt (Matt Lanter) with some experience in combat or a hacker in Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) who is very uncomfortable about going back in time to difficult times in American history.

The scenes in the past were fairly executed and action-packed, and in the process we learned that Wyatt lost his wife and was in the process surprisingly invested in changing history for a woman who originally died because of the Hindenburg. Maybe you can argue that was a tad conveniently-constructed, given that what we learned from it was that sometimes time finds a way for the same result to happen, albeit in different ways. We also saw that if you do change things too drastically, the ripple effect can be huge. Take, for example, Lucy returning to the present and realizing her ailing mother was healthy, but her sister did not exist anymore. How’s that for your big twist? The only other one is that Rufus is up to something, but what remains to be seen.

While we would’ve liked a tad more information on Flynn and his motivations in this episode, we’re still saying that “Timeless” had a worthy and fun premiere. It was casual entertainment at its best, and we’ll see now where we go moving forward. Grade: B.

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