What you need to know about Timeless
From NBC’s official show page:
ABOUT THE SHOW
From Eric Kripke ("Revolution," "Supernatural"), Shawn Ryan ("The Shield") and the producers of "The Blacklist" comes this thrilling action-adventure series in which a mysterious criminal steals a secret state-of-the-art time machine, intent on destroying America as we know it by changing the past. Our only hope is an unexpected team: a scientist, a soldier and a history professor who use the machine's prototype to travel back in time to critical events. While they must make every effort not to affect the past themselves, they must also stay one step ahead of this dangerous fugitive. Can this handpicked team uncover the mystery behind it all and end his destruction before it's too late?
All of the show’s major characters were at the SDCC panel.
The show’s debut panel began by screening the first episode of the series. I’ll save that discussion for later in case you don’t want to read spoilers. I’ll just tease that the audience really enjoyed the show. Personally, I was immediately pulled in by the characters, the historical fiction, and of course, the science fiction.
Eric was quick to position the show as having “on top of all the kick-ass action (and it’s our plan to have a lot of kick-ass action),… amazing actors and really good, complicated, grounded characters.” Why mess with a successful formula? After all, he launched the Supernatural dynasty with great action, great actors and great characters! He immediately shared the credit for the show with his co-producer and the show’s cast: “Some of that is Shawn’s contribution. I really think it’s gonna be a group that everyone’s gonna fall in love with, because these guys really stick the landing. I mean, these guys are awesome.”
So who are these great characters that fill Eric with so much excitement? With prompting from the panel’s moderator, the actors were all anxious to describe their characters.
Abigail: It’s really interesting that we’re using contemporary characters to relive the past because they see themselves in a lot of these historical, and yet our fictional, take on what happened in the past…. It’s really, really cool to explore. Especially Lucy. Lucy is an incredible, incredible character. When I met with Shawn and Eric to talk about the show, they were like, “Her superpower is her intellect”.
Malcom: That was a lot of fun. Their take on it was one of the reasons why I wanted to do the show in the first place. That scene was interesting.
Shawn: we sort of encouraged him to stray from the script. We’d written some stuff but we also wanted Malcolm’s take. Ultimately, Eric and I are a couple of white dudes and we were interested in what Malcolm could add to it so a lot of what you see in that particular scene – some of it is what Eric and I wrote but a lot of it, probably the best stuff, is something he came up with extemporaneously as the cameras were rolling that we decided to keep in.
Malcolm: That was fun. The awesome part about this is, I love SciFi, I love the genre but [you don’t often see] African American characters go back in time. It’s probably challenging for writers. They’re like, “Um, something’s gonna happen but I don’t know what!” So what’s awesome about these guys is that …these guys aren’t afraid to tackle very real things and they’re not afraid to challenge themselves. That was the opportunity that I was given. They understood those ideas and I was happy to just jump in and go full force. They allowed me that creative room to feel around and find where we were going with this… I was really looking forward to that for most of the shoot ‘cause I had a lot of ideas…All of our characters are able to have these neat challenges and burdens that happen as a result of them having their own particular perspective and ability to jump [back and forth in time]
The moderator then turned the question on Goran: “Does Garcia feel like he’s doing the right thing by going back and doing what he does?”
Goran: Well you have to believe as an actor that your character is doing the right thing. I mean how else could you play it? But we talked about it… We’re going to find out what he wants to change in the past. Some things he doesn’t like and some can be as simple as "I don’t like the smile on Mona Lisa’s head so I’m going to destroy the painting." He’s got to burn something, really! I guess we’ll see how right things are in the future.
The Time Machine
Just as the Impala is a major, recurring character in Supernatural, Eric made sure that his new show also has a unique, memorable mode of transportation that would transition its occupants from one adventure to the next.
Eric: One of the first things we did when we all got started was to hire a concept artist who designed tons and tons of iterations of what the time machine would be. Funny enough, a true anecdote, after a lot of painstaking work, we landed on a design, and we were like, “We Got It!” We presented it to the network and the network said, “That design SUCKS!” So we scrambled over 48 hours to come up with the secondary design to open the show. Now I love it, it is so cool, the movement of the rings … it’s a really beautiful, visual image. I keep learning a lesson a million times which is [because of] the speed and sometimes the improvisation of television production, you usually end up with your coolest, most bad ass ideas. I love that machine.
So how exactly do the writers decide on the specific adventures for the time travelling team? The moderator wondered if the actors have a say in the plot lines:
Moderator: Do the actors come up and ask, “Hey, can we do this year? Can we do this decade? Can we go here? Can we go there?" Is that gonna happen?
Shawn: One thing I believe in for all my shows is to invite the actors in for an afternoon, for lunch, to sit down and talk with them about the show from our perspective as writers, and from their perspective as actors. I can’t remember what their specific answers were but I think one of the questions we asked each and every actor in individual sessions was, “What would they like to go back and see in the past?” I can’t remember what they all answered.
A great deal of teasing and laughing ensued along the lines of “Our answers were that impressive, huh? Then why did you even ask us!” The moderator gave each person a chance to ‘remind’ Shawn of their desired story lines:
Abigail: I’d love to go back to old Hollywood, Catherine Hepburn years…
Matt : We’ve been asked this question quite a few times. My answer keeps changing but I think it would be pretty cool to be in the room at the Last Supper [of Jesus Christ]
Malcolm: I don’t want to go back in time [a reference to the jail sequence in the pilot]! Maybe the Renaissance or I love music. Seeing music [classics like] Jimmy Hendricks burn his guitar… but in general, I don’t want to go back!
Goran: I am all over the place. I’m a history buff I’m always thinking about the US Space program as it used to be, as it was meant to be from early [John F.] Kennedy [years] when he says “We’re gonna go to the moon” up to the landing. How many years was that? Like 10 years? It was an amazing time. I don’t know what I’d do there… with this accent, I’d probably be arrested as a Russian spy and they’d shoot me!
So what's so unique about this show?
Abigail: I learn so much about history. There’s so many things I didn’t know. In this episode that we’re shooting right now about [spoiler for 2nd episode, see below], I don’t want to give anything away but there’s something that unfolds in that story, in that episode, that I didn’t even know happened that night and it’s true! It’s really fun and adventurous and hopefully in a family way we’ll all learn history all together in one room across generations so I’ve been really grateful for that so far. I get to learn while doing my job. It’s great.
Shawn: Yeah, that’s one of the fun things about the show. We actually have a historian that works with us in the writer’s room. I can’t tell you how many times already in stories we’ve broken, where we get to some story thing and rather than it coming from our imagination, it just takes a little more research to realize some true fact that kind of [mops?] the story for us. I feel about 20% smarter than I did a few months ago when we started.
Eric: Yeah. It’s really fascinating. By its very nature, it’s [history] something that we all share… It’s where we all came from. So to have a show that is first and foremost a kick-ass action show, but also…
Abigail: … and emotional and …
Shawn: … and romantic
Eric: …[joking]… and with a ton of nudity! But with all of those things, you can also learn something too so we really think it’s a show that’s gonna have a big audience. We hope everyone can join us. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun to write!
BIG Spoiler Section
“Pilot” was written by Shawn and Eric and directed by Neil Marshall. The premise is that the team goes back to the day the Hindenburg exploded in mid-air. The following are some of the stunning spoilers from that episode that were shared during the panel (read on at your own risk!):
Goran: [Garcia] used to work for NSA and he’s seen some things he wasn’t supposed to see. He tried to fix it but that got his family killed so he decided to steal a time machine to use. Someone set [him] up so everything is open.
Abigail: Obviously, the pilot ends in a cliffhanger. We can tease what happens in the second episode… Well, we actually just started shooting yesterday. I just flew in from Vancouver where I spent all of yesterday in a corset! We went back to 1865 to Abraham Lincoln and spent a day, a really important day…
Eric: [BIG, BIG SPOILER] Episode 2 has a lot of emotional fallout from the fact that her sister’s been erased from history. She has to figure out how to get her sister back while still chasing Garcia Flynn.
Timeless got my attention as a new series. It premieres Oct 3 at 10/9pm on NBC. It's already set to record on my DVR. I’m anxious to hear what you think of it and if you see many similarities between it and Supernatural. Are you looking forward to it? Do you feel a tug to give it a try because of Eric? Let me know your thoughts!
Details confirmed with Imdb.com
Promotional Description and Artwork from http://www.nbc.com/timeless?nbc=1