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Timeless On the Bubble: Keep or Cut?

TVLine logo TVLine 2/8/2017 Matt Webb Mitovich
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By mid-May, the broadcast networks must make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2017-18 TV season, and which… won’t.

As that deadline draws near, TVLine is singling out a few “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on creative strides (and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to cold, hard numbers.

First up is a time-travel series with an entertaining past but sadly uncertain future.

THE SHOW | NBC’s Timeless (Mondays at 10/9c; season finale airs Feb. 20)

THE CASE FOR KEEPING | A bit slow out of the gate and stingy with mythology specifics, the Eric Kripke/Shawn Ryan collaboration has been cooking with gas ever since Flynn’s agenda became clear and the mysterious “Rittenhouse” emerged from the shadows.

As the heroic “Time Team,” Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett and Matt Lanter quickly created distinctly entertaining characters, each of whom struggle with morality as they brave unpredictable threats in the past and present. Lucy for so long was driven by a want to bring her sister back to “existence,” and now is further distracted by the nature of her own origins. Rufus has barely held his tongue while encountering every level of prejudice (and for the first stretch grappled with his lot as a “double agent”), but now has the promise of new love to hold onto. And Wyatt’s passionate wish to “erase” his wife’s killer was granted, but with what degree of success? And at what cost? Not only do we want to see those stories — as well as the oftentimes weighty history “lessons” they experience first-hand — continue, but the surface has barely been scratched with the likes of Jiya, Agent Christopher and Connor Mason.

Lastly, Timeless‘ casting of famous faces has been steadily spectacular, from Sean Maguire’s dashing Ian Fleming to Michael Drayer’s charmingly sheepish Harry Houdini to Tiffany Daniels’ lively Josephine Baker.

THE CASE FOR CUTTING | Recent numbers have done a number on Timeless — at, alas, a critical juncture. Having hovered around a 1.1-1.2 demo rating since October, the series as of late has gone fractional, while the Feb. 6 episode drew fewer than 3 million viewers. NBC’s track record in nurturing freshman hits is spotty (see: Revolution, Blindspot), so the network would be hard-pressed to work much magic with meh numbers. And while at least three NBC dramas have a lower average rating this season, time-travel shows do not come cheap, as evidenced by Timeless‘ “full season” order of just 16 episodes.

Vote below, and then state your own case for keeping or cutting Timeless.

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