TV Club: The Time Team goes rogue in a chaotic, gripping Timeless
A time-travel show decides to tackle the story of the capture of Al Capone. They put a cast of good-looking, intelligent, but occasionally fumbling people in Chicago in 1931, place an unpredictable villain at the side of the the famous gangster, and hijinks ensue. There are shoot-outs, tough talk, and lots of pretty clothes and sharp suits. The time-travelers depart, and Al Capone is vanquished. That’s what happens on a time-travel show.
On Timeless, Eliot Ness gets pumped full of bullets.
There are things about Timeless that feel formulaic, though in the second half of its first season the show seems much more interested in bucking the formula than following along. Yet even when it seems predictable, this is a series that’s got a healthy streak of chaos. In the beginning, this streak mostly emerged through wild inconsistency in tone. Later, it peeked out through the unpredictable actions …