This week marks the 2017 television upfronts, in which networks reveal next season’s programming for advertisers. To get ready for the new group of shows, lower-rated programs have been getting the ax. One such show was NBC’s time travel show Timeless, which was canceled last week. However, the network took an unusual step by reversing that decision on Saturday, thanks in part to outcry from the show’s fans.
Timeless follows a history professor, a soldier, and an engineer as they’re tasked with tracking down a stolen time machine, and discover that there’s plans underway to attempt to change the past. Created by Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Last Resort) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural, Revolution), the show was generally well received and garnered a dedicated fanbase, but saw its ratings fall over the course of its first season. While the show came in on top in an influential USA Today poll that asked viewers which “bubble” show they wanted to see return, it ended up on the chopping block last week.
It is the outcry of fans that helped NBC change course
According to NBC executives, it was the outcry from the fans that prompted them to change their minds on Saturday morning. “We heard from fans and the outcry and we woke up the next morning and thought, ‘Let’s figure out how to bring it back,'” NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt said during a phone conference with reporters on Sunday. “We went back to the drawing board in every way.” The result is a second, 10-episode season that will air sometime in 2018.
The show will have some changes when it returns: according to The Hollywood Reporter, Kripke and Ryan went back to NBC with a family-friendly pitch for additional episodes, and the studio has reportedly offered up a better financial package for the network. The show’s cast and crew were elated. Show star Abigail Spencer tweeted her appreciation to fans for their efforts in the reversal, while Kripke joked that they went back in time to change the decision.
Science fiction television is littered with hundreds of shows that have been prematurely canceled. While fan campaigns helped to resurrect shows such as Star Trek, Firefly, and Farscape in various ways, most stories simply come to an end, remembered only when they appear on a streaming service. With Timeless, fans were able to hold off that fate a bit longer.