NBC’s Timeless has been that show that proved fans can help bring back television shows from the brink.
“Together, we changed history,” was how things started out at the Timeless 2017 Comic-Con panel on Thursday.
— Timeless (@TimelessSPTV) July 20, 2017
It might sound like a cheesy line pulled from an episode of Timeless, NBC’s time-traveling drama, but it took on a whole new meaning at the show’s Comic-Con panel Thursday.
The panel came two months after the show was canceled and then, shockingly, un-canceled by NBC. Despite spending much of its first season on the bubble, the time travel drama amassed a fiercely loyal fan base that was up in arms over the show’s demise. (The series also ranked as the fourth-highest scripted series when all delayed viewing is factored in.)
Despite the show’s high price tag — Timeless hails from Sony Pictures Television and is one of NBC’s few dramas not produced in-house by Universal TV — Sony and NBC were able to come to an agreement for a 10-episode second season that will launch sometime in 2018, either spring or summer. Ryan and Kripke reportedly pitched a more family friendly second season, will also helped incentivize the decision for NBC.
— Movie TV Tech Geeks (@movietvtechgeek) July 21, 2017
Fittingly, creators and showrunners Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke were joined by stars Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett, and Goran Visnjic to discuss the miraculous turn of events with a video that showed just how Timeless’ die-hard fans and the fervent #RenewTimeless social media campaign helped resurrect the series and, as the video said, “changed history.”
“The point of the panel is to celebrate you for saving the show so I think you deserve a round of applause,” Kripke told the crowd, which drew enthusiastic applause from the ballroom.
Barrett also celebrated the fans by bringing #Clockblockers t-shirts that he threw out to the crowd towards the beginning of the panel. (Fans in attendance were also treated to a sneak peek of the blooper reel from the season one DVD, which comes out on Sept. 19.)
When Kripke and Ryan polled the crowd about which fandom name they preferred, not surprisingly #Clockblockers easily won over #TimeFandits. After the opening video – set to the opening music of time-traveling blockbuster Back to the Future nonetheless – the cast and creators discussed their reversal of fortunes.
“We had been canceled that Wednesday so… we started to make peace, you’re starting to go through your grieving process,” Kripke said. (Or “drinking process,” as Spencer jokingly called it.)
“There was no hint. It was Sony, to their credit, and NBC busting their ass behind the scenes,” Kripke continued of the surprise Saturday phone call from the higher-ups at NBC. “It was truly out of the blue.”
While Kripke was busy driving his kid to soccer, others (i.e. Spencer) were fast asleep when the good news broke. “I was totally asleep. My phone was off and I woke up, I’m not kidding, to hundreds of texts,” she said. It was only when she got an e-mail from Ryan that she truly believed the good news. “It’s truly magical,” she said about the fan campaign to save the series.
Despite the show’s perennial bubble status during season one, Kripke said that didn’t make the writers think twice about how to end season one, specifically the reveal that Lucy’s mom is Rittenhouse. “You come in hard, like, ‘No man, we’re coming back,’ and you write that way,” he said. “To me that’s the only way you write a show.”
Spencer recalled shooting that final scene, which was also the last scene they shot of season one.
“What was difficult about that scene was… we’re basically wrapping up all of season one and dropping this huge bomb all in the same breath,” she said. “I felt very close to Lucy. I felt very overwhelmed, I felt saddened. … It was a lot of emotions and feelings going on and a lot of words to say. Lucy is, unlike me, very verbose,” she added with a laugh.
(However, Spencer also embraced the twist because “I love the way that we portray women on the show.”)
Looking ahead to season two, Kripke said that reveal will have a big influence going forward.
“Lucy’s mom is really going to be one of the major big bads in season two,” he said. “Rittenhouse does have their hands on the time machine so that is way worse than Garcia having his hands on the time machine and Garcia and the team are kind of, sort of now facing a common enemy so there’s going to be some sort of complicated, really fraught, messy team-up with that.”
Among the changes for season two is the shooting location, which will move from Vancouver to Los Angeles when production on the second season begins in November. “I think that will allow us to tell a few stories that we were unable to tell” in season one, Ryan said. “We definitely have some ideas nothing sort of set in stone.”
However, one of Ryan’s hopes is to “dip deeper into character” in season two. “We’ll still have spectacle and bigness,” he said. But, “I think we’ll just have episodes where we dive deep into the Lucy and Wyatt of it all.”
Kripke also said season two, like much of scripted TV, might be influenced by the current political state of the country, even if Kripke himself was hesitant about making a political statement.
“The thing that we really found this year, that we really love about the show is we really like, are very proud that we were able to tell this very positive, really inclusive stories about history, stories about women and stories about minorities and stories about gay people; that everyone contributes to the history of this country,” he said, which was met with applause by the crowd. “I will be the opposite of political in this, but I would say that’s a very good message these days. I would say there’s a lot of doubling down on that in season two.”
“History is for everybody and America is for everybody,” he added.
Timeless returns in season two in 2018.