Follow me on this. You may need a WABAC machine or a TARDIS or an air-guitar-powered phone booth.
In 2016, the prime time networks aired four different time travel programs. ABC’s Time After Time, based on the 1979 sci-fi drama that saw H.G. Wells chase Jack the Ripper through modern-day America … failed after five episodes. Fox’s Making History barely surpassed a 2:00 a.m. test pattern in the Nielsen ratings. And the CW’s Frequency finished its first season with no hope of garnering a second one.
The fourth show was NBC’s Timeless.
The series made it through sixteen episodes, and was cancelled on a cliffhanger finale.
Oh well, another decent TV show that got axed by the powers that be.
But the many people who did watch Timeless – a fantasy series about a group of time travelers trying to stop an international organization from controlling history – had more viewers than NBC thought. The fans, colloquially known as “Clockblockers,” made their voices heard loudly and strongly. They wanted the adventures of Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus to continue.
Right. Networks don’t keep genre shows on the air unless those shows deliver monster ratings.
But, surprisingly, NBC listened. They gave Timeless a ten-episode second season, to air as a spring drama.
And they stuffed the TV show in a prime broadcasting period – 10:00 p.m. on Sunday nights.
Yes, because that’s where you place a family drama. Every single time. </sarcasm>
Well, the fans watched the show, and in the hopes of continuing th eseries beyond that abbreviated second season, the producers of Timeless built up to a nice cliffhanger.
But NBC ignominiously cancelled Timeless after the ten-episode second season. Another unresolved cliffhanger.
Fans begged and pleaded with NBC. Give us a third season, please. Barring that, at least let us have one more episode to wrap up all the loose ends.
And the decision had to be made quickly. The actors playing these characters would be free to venture off to other projects after a certain calendar date – their contracts for Timeless would expire.
The fans rallied. The producers of Timeless rallied as well, offering to post deleted scenes and script pages for the Clockblockers if the fans offered a certain number of tweets and retweets and #SaveTimeless hashtags to save the series.
From what I understand, the producers ran out of deleted scenes to share.
Finally, last Monday, NBC relented. Timeless would receive a two-hour series finale, a TV movie that would wrap up the entire series for good. No cliffhangers, no “to be continued,” none of that.
This is good.
When it comes to serialized drama, fans want that “Fugitive” moment. They were fine with Dr. Richard Kimble being on the run, but at some point the show HAD to reach a confrontation with the one-armed man who took Kimble’s wife and sentenced Kimble to a death sentence. They want the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital to finally get out of Korea. They wanted streetwise detective Andy Sipowicz to finish his final days as the commander of the 15th squad.
And now we find out if Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus can finally stop Rittenhouse once and for all, and hopefully put a satisfying coda on a show that has twice beaten the odds.
Yeah, I’m kinda curious as to whether the show will get that satisfying ending.
But at least there WILL be an ending of sorts. And that’s more than most TV shows get in their broadcast runs.
Now warm up the Lifeboat and let’s get going.