Why 'Timeless' Deserves to Get Cancelled, AGAIN
Second season ratings prove Eric Kripke, Shawn Ryan, their writers, and Clockblockers need a permanent time-out...
No, this is no case of deja vu, nor the result of a closed time-like curve. Timeless fans are looking at their favorite show, potentially being canceled again, because that's what happens when you do the same thing over and over. You get the same results. Einstein even said so and added, that to expect anything different is the definition of insanity. As a result, if the show producers, writers, and their beloved Clockblockers thought anything else would be happening now, they're all nuts, which of course, doesn't surprise me at all. I predicted these circumstances way before the middle of its first season, when I was still a fan. All that's over now.
These are the facts:
1. Timeless came during an unprecedented period of scientific research into the possibilities of time travel.
Seth Lloyd, Yakir Aharonov, Tim Ralph, Martin Ringbauer, others, and yes, myself included, had all contributed, and were contributing, new and theoretical work. However, the producers of the show made little effort to capitalize on those facts. What better way to cause excitement surrounding the show than to cite the reality of ongoing scientific research that would make such a scenario real? But no, instead they did a promotional video interview with Sean Carroll, a physicist who has talked about time travel before but doesn't work in that field and so had nothing that hadn't already been discussed before by other science popularizers like Michio Kaku, who also don't work in time travel research at all. This was a massive missed PR opportunity that made little sense, until later.
Several shows into the first season I warned on Twitter against what I saw developing that was going to hurt Timeless and I was right: the "Time Tunnel effect," a moniker that I came up with to describe the tendency to do time travel fiction that relies on sending the protagonists to well known moments of history. This is what killed the original TV time travel series, by the same name. What begins to be an exciting proposition, declines into boredom, as predictability sets in. What does Timeless do? The Hindenberg, Abraham Lincoln's assassination, Bonnie and Clyde, the Alamo, Jesse James, and on and on and on. Instead of going to parts of history that we don't know much about, show producers Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan thought that merely showing aspects that featured people of color and women would be a big enough draw. They were wrong and I was right. The show started a steady slide in the ratings. I mean, after all, how can they do a time travel show, that even has a conspiracy angle, and not visit Nikola Tesla! It SCREAMS that Kripke and crew are CLUELESS! It's better to know what you're doing when you start, and clearly Kripke and Ryan didn't. They still don't.
3. Next, Shawn Ryan's Twitter Swipe Against Time Travel Science Fans
"We take our time travel rules VERY seriously on #Timeless. For a science that doesn't exist yet, fans are VERY certain what rules are!" I have yet to discover what started it, but obviously it got to Ryan. How stupid can he be to insult a portion of what his fan base should be? Plenty stupid, obviously. Not only did he belittle time travel science fans but then added that it was a "science that doesn't exist, yet." That's what got me dedicated, and highly motivated, to call out what I saw was the farce that is Timeless as a competent science fiction program. It was clear at this point that the writers knew nothing about the "rules of time travel," but not so clear until recently that what they see as "rules" are just their arbitrary, ignorant, and erroneous decisions about how they'll portray what's possible — and not what the physics says is possible. After all, Ryan let on, they don't believe that there is any science to time travel and they view with disdain anyone that argues otherwise.
It wasn't bad enough that Ryan blew off time travel science fans, it turns out that the importance of the "rules" to Ryan wasn't true. In an interview with writer, Trent Moore from Paste magazine, Ryan tells him that he and Kripke, "wanted to get the “rules” out of the way as quickly as possible," which appears to have been nonsense since what they've done in the show not only violates the known geometries and physics involved with time travel but anything that could be attributed to common sense. Take Lucy's loss of her sister in season 1. Her mother is dying of cancer and she has a sister. Lucy returns from her first mission only to find that not only is her mother well — she never had cancer! But sit down for this — her sister never existed. Not only that, but she has a fiance now — that she's never met. Now, to write this requires the grey matter of a squirrel, or at least, not enough to ever be allowed into a cogent conversation about time travel since, clearly, there should be two Lucy's now — the one that's been time traveling and the one that's been going out with this fiance and living life with just her mother that never had cancer! Do they cough one up? Nope.
Now, Ryan argues in that article with Trent Moore that they did this because, "'We didn’t want them to come back to a world where, like, there’s no Kentucky Fried Chicken,' he jokes—instead showing those ripples in more personal ways. That manifests most strikingly in Lucy’s sister being erased from existence after the team’s very first mission." The problem with that is not only the lack of common sense, as I've already illustrated, but the fact the scenario demands a parallel universes solution which the show's writers clearly want to avoid — constantly insisting on a single timeline which, in and of itself, violates the physics which current research hasproved with a long series of physical, repeated experiments done over 20 different ways. Oh, but Ryan's writers care so damn much about rules yet they have no clue what does or doesn't make any sense, nor what has been established in the real world.
But, proving my own personal opinion — that the writers of Timeless are a bunch of morons — there's the scene in season 2 where the character, Jiya, tells Lucy that the man who raised her isn't her real father. Why? 'Cause now, due to changes that happened when they went back in time to stop the Hindenberg from being messed with by the show's first villain, Garcia Flynn, Lucy's father actually married a girl who was the granddaughter of a survivor of the Hindenberg, while her mother married a man connected to the bad guys, and she says this with a straight face — while I was yelling "B--- S---!" at the screen.
Why? You don't have to be a genius to see that all it would take is a DNA test to prove that isn't true, regardless what time travel nonsense you want to invoke. Time travel doesn't change your DNA, and since Lucy remembers things the way they were, that's an obvious indicator that her DNA would be the same as it was, as well. Even in relativistic terms, her reference frame wasn't affected by time travel, the timeline was, so as wrong as that scenario might be, from a temporal mechanics geometric point of view, it still renders what Jiya was saying as a bunch of malarkey from the Timeless writers room. So much for any argument that the writers behind Timeless have the grey matter to qualified to be doing what they're doing, which is probably why the show has always under performed from its true potential.
4. The Clockblockers
The Clockblockers was the term given to the tiny minority of rabid Timeless fans that cared about nothing but the show as a dramatic vehicle for the actors involved. Often hyped up by Kripke and Ryan, they are credited for getting Timeless a second season by throwing a hissy fit when the word came out that it was canceled, as I predicted that it would be.
But the Clockblockers were so emboldened by the turn of events, they were completely oblivious to the obvious facts — the show was canceled because the ratings were continually going down, as I knew they would, and the network didn't give Kripke and Ryan a full season, which indicated to me that NBC wasn't fully committed to the show's continuation. This second season was merely a second chance for Ryan and Kripke to prove that they deserved a full season if they were to be given a season 3. All the trending on Twitter was hollow, contrived B.S. as season 2 would prove to a degree that I was even stunned by. Starting out at a weak .8 in the 18 - 49 demo, further below its first season finale, over the next 5 episodes it danced along a downward staircase with each episode — .72, .65, .61, .53, .50 — and then teetered like a drunk back up to .60 only to stumble forward down to .50 and reel backward to .60 for the season finale — the same one that Kripke, Ryan, and the cast begged their beloved Clockblockers to watch live to raise the ratings. The results spoke loud and clear — proving once and for all the Clockblockers are a crock. If they were a true force to be reckoned with, season 2 would have had at least the same ratings as the last half of season 1, but no, the pathetic Clockblockers couldn't even muster that for a single episode!
This is something that I want to make, perfectly clear — the Clockblockers can't even maintain a decent rating for Timeless. If Timeless had large support, it would show up in the ratings. IT DOESN'T.
More telling, I did a series of science events on a promotional tour in Washington D.C. in March, ending the night of the season premiere of Timeless. We deliberately made arrangements to show the premiere live after the event for the attendees, but no one gave a damn. Only one admitted to even knowing about the show and they all left afterwards for various reasons. Now, these were fans of time travel science who were there to hear me speak, most were just hearing about me for the first time, and wanted to learn about the scientific breakthroughs that were being made. Their disinterest, as well as their unawareness of the existence of the show, I've seen before — proving that Timeless has a promotions problem, which would've been solved if they had more of a promotional attitude as I mentioned in item #1. So, not only did Ryan piss off time travel science fans, not only has their audience been shrinking despite the Clockblockers' best efforts, but there's still people who have never heard of the stupid show.
Even worse, I'vechecked at various science fiction conventions and few people know about the show and evenfewer like it.
If Timeless was really all that, if Kripke and Ryan knew what they were doing, it would have what Kripke knows they lack — ratings. I point out Kripke because he had worked with another TV favorite of mine that I was also connected to via my career — FRINGE (I've even launched my own Massive Dynamic style start-up). FRINGE got 4 seasons and had to fight for their last but there was no question about the first several seasons, because the show was that good. And it didn't insult the advanced concept science community. In fact, the show promoted the science via a number of promotional videos that they released with the cast and crew that inspired a TV special about the reality of fringe science. Timeless has done none of that. I think we can blame it on Ryan.
Timeless should be canceled, as a lesson to other producers not to make the same, stupid, ignorant, arrogant mistakes. I know that many Timeless fans will be crushed by this, but they're just the casualties of war and make no mistake — this is now a war. A war between ignorant and arrogant Hollywood and those of us who care about, work in and want the same kind of progress in time travel research as the space race produced, and want to see the true time travel science reflected in what's put on the screen, and not this insipid, asinine, drek that these morons think is so cool. Kripke and Ryan took a wonderful concept that I was excited about, with a great special effects team, a competent cast, and ruined it. Then Ryan went on to insult what should've been the show's loyal base, and he's been bleeding support ever since. Timeless fans that don't care about time travel, well I've got a message for ya from those of us who do — you don't matter. If you did, your show wouldn't be in trouble — AGAIN! In the end, you're fans of a fantasy, meanwhile, we're seeing the science becoming clearer and propelling the real prospects for time travel, at an astonishing rate — even faster than I guessed last year. All this creates the dynamics for better, more intelligent shows than what Kripke and Ryan are clearly capable of. Something that I've begun to lecture and consult on for writers that want to be up to date, and cutting edge.
Ryan and Kripke have no one else to blame but themselves, and based on Ryan's behavior, I'd guess that the lion's share of the blame rests on his shoulders. The game, particularly in the area of time travel related fiction, has changed and will change even more, soon. You can no longer play fast and loose with a show, relying on fans to bail you out, because the minute you start talking about paradoxes and changing the past — with ramifications for the future of the time travel's origination, and can't even keep those bad, false and erroneous rules straight, you'll look — to the growing community of us who know better, as if you've got all the sophistication of the original movie of Jules Verne's, A Trip To The Moon, and suffer the same fate that Timeless deserves.