Timeless at WonderCon

By Mario Wario

If you use Google to search the “Best time travel TV shows,” you’ll notice that NBC’s Timeless is listed among the top guns, and rightly so.

Going beyond the usual time travel tropes, Timeless takes audiences on a grand adventure to explore the past. The stories themselves were satisfying to watch during season one but the heart of the show is its main three characters: Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer), Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrett) and Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter). Having a clunky, spherical time machine called the Lifeboat helps as well. The supporting cast and crew are also outstanding. Cobble it all together, and Timeless became a hit on television and fans of the show wanted more. The series developed a loyal fan base which led to the creation of the nickname: Clockblockers. (On social media, the #Clockblockers is used to support the series and to talk about the show as well.)

Yet as often happens in the deluge of new shows each year,  as the series got going, its future became rather uncertain. The series got cancelled by NBC. It was one and done. Yet thanks to a passionate fanbase voicing their displeasure to this news, as well as some last-minute negotiations between Sony and NBC, a second season was greenlit only days after the series got cancelled. Like the phoenix, the series rose from the ashes to live on.

Fast-forward to March 24, 2018,  the Timeless crew paid a visit to WonderCon to promote the series and to say thank you to the fans. (For a report on WonderCon’s 2018 event, click here.)

At WonderCon, I had the pleasure of meeting Shawn Ryan (the executive producer/co-creator of Timeless), Malcolm Barrett (Rufus Carlin), Sakina Jaffrey (Denise Christopher) and Paterson Joseph (Connor Mason) in a series of roundtable interviews.

Shawn Ryan, bombarded with a series of questions about the show and its renewal, he said that everyone on the show was “relieved,” as well as “excited” that the decision regarding the series’ cancellation was reversed. He mentioned that NBC heard the fans’ outcry, and by the tone of his voice, I could tell that he appreciated the help. Because of the outpouring support by the fans, which resulted in NBC giving the series another shot, Ryan explained that the cast and crew knew that they had a “responsibility” to both groups in making sure season two was done well. And so far, I do believe this new season has lived up to expectations.

Ryan pointed out that having the production move to Los Angeles was a positive. For example, the crew are now closer to their families and Ryan can visit the set more often, compared to being in Vancouver. Ryan coined LA as a “diverse town” which will provide a chance to tell more unique stories than ever before. I can hardly wait to see what they will create now! Yet the move did affect the show’s budget, so staying within those constraints was very important to the crew. He later said that filming has concluded for season two.

When asked how great it was to have ‘time travel’ as a gateway to do whatever he wanted, Ryan stated that, “There’s literally no story we can’t tell” when inside the writer’s room. Ryan and the writers do like having a ‘sandbox,’ with the freedom to highlight any era and/or person they want. For example, (minor spoiler alert) episode six of season two will highlight American blues singer Robert Johnson! Ryan provided some background on how this happened. Eric Kripke is a fan of Robert Johnson, and since Ryan didn’t know who he was (and Kripke not a fan of that) Ryan decided to focus on this person for episode six. He does enjoy knowing who Robert Johnson is now. He is a real history nut.

Ryan also stated that he wants to tackle the Orphan Train movement soon. Yet for that to happen, a season three is needed.

Jaffrey and Joseph were thrilled to be at WonderCon, to the point where they were asking press members about the difference between WonderCon and San Diego Comic-Con. Of course, Joseph did mention the Timeless fans by saying how “smart” they were and that he loved them. Jaffrey feels the same way, too. They absolutely adore this fan base and they do hope the Clockblockers are able to start a Timeless convention over in France. They do like knowing that William Shatner is a fan of the show. Who wouldn’t? It’s Captain Kirk, a virtual ‘expert’ in time travel! They also noted that Leslie Jones is a fan, too.

Jaffrey and Joseph both said that they didn’t believe that the show was actually coming back at first. Ryan had to message them to make sure that they knew it was true.

Jaffrey stated that the show does have a real historian in the writer’s room to make sure everything is historically accurate, while Joseph mentioned that his character will have more things to do as the season gets further along, but gave no further information as to how this might happen.

When asked about how everyone is able to have fun on set, Jaffrey and Joseph both said that they love being on set because of it. They also pointed out that everyone loves each other on the show. Each person is treated equally on set. Jaffrey and Joseph like that Ryan and Eric support the writers and everyone else in the creative arena. It’s great to hear that the filming process doesn’t feel like a chore to the cast and crew. No wonder this series has been so good.

Malcolm Barrett greeted everyone in a very energetic manner, hulking out by trying to climb the table. Yes, you read that right. He tried to climb the table! Clearly he was having a blast being at WonderCon and meeting the fans. As with Jaffrey and Joseph, Barrett didn’t believe that the show was coming back at first. It took a series of messages to show him that it was true. He then explained that he treats time traveling as being a tourist, since he has no idea what to expect on set. He did say that this season, the show revisited the 80s but would not say more after that. Barrett does like that his character is far more established compared to season one.

The Timeless panel was held in North 200A during WonderCon 2018. Those attending got to see a new episode (“Hollywoodland”), as well as seeing the guests taking the stage. The fans had an opportunity to show their love for the series in person. The cast were able to see that love in person as well.

The Q&A session had a few highlights that got the fans quite happy. For example, Goran Visnjic (Garcia Flynn) gave Jaffrey a hug after she said her character didn’t like Flynn at all. Visnjic did say that his character has always been a good guy. Visnjic then added that the Lucy/journal connection will be explored this season, which I can hardly wait to see where this goes! As for the rest of the crew, when asked about what time period they would like to ‘explore’ on the show, Barrett said that he would like to visit his grandchildren in the future. Ryan wants to explore the labor movement, Jaffrey wants to see the 2018 midterm elections and Joseph would like to see the Ignatius Sancho era. And finally, Visnjic would like to see ancient Greece. Overall, the cast used humor and silly antics to keep everyone entertained and the answers about season two didn’t spoil anything at all. And yes, I thought the panel itself was very good.

The love the Timeless cast and crew have for their fan base is lovely to see. No wonder the series is listed among the top guns on Google for best time travel shows. As Ryan said during WonderCon, “We make every episode for the fans.” Indeed, they do.

You can catch the second season right now on Sundays at 10pm EST on NBC. And don’t forget to visit the FoCC forum by clicking here to keep the Timeless chat going.

Mario Wario

Mario Wario is a Spidey/Funko/video game fanatic, yet going to a pop culture convention is always his goal. Yes, he is also a fan of Mario and Wario. Follow him on Twitter: @ScottyTheWise

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