#SaveTimeless: How one fandom is single handedly trying to rescue their favorite NBC show

A force to be reckoned with, fan support today is changing the course of history like never before and the #SaveTimeless campaign is right in the centre of it all.


                            #SaveTimeless: How one fandom is single handedly trying to rescue their favorite NBC show

There's a reason why fans are such a huge part of a show's success. They can make or break the show for obvious reasons, but from what we've seen recently, they can also be the reason a show comes back for a fresh new season. A force to be reckoned with, fan support today is changing the course of history like never before.

It all started with 'Star Trek: The Original Series' in 1968. NBC had made up its mind to let go of the show when a fan campaign swooped in for the rescue. After two seasons of the show aired, a letter-writing campaign by fans brought it back for another run. Bjo and John Trimble decided to bombard the network with letters and were joined by fellow fans in the process.

The rest is history. It is safe to say that shows like 'Family Guy', 'Futurama', 'Jericho', 'Caney & Lacey', 'Sense 8', 'Veronica Mars' and more recently, 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' were rescued by fans in their own capacity but the campaign that has really caught our eye is the rally for NBC's 'Timeless.'

 



 

NBC's time travel drama, 'Timeless,' starring  Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, and Matt Lanter, was canceled for a second time this July. Last year, the show was saved from cancellation after Sony TV gave up 50 percent of the show's ownership stake to NBC's Universal Television.

This time fans were told that it was because of "considerable economic obstacles that make it an uncertainty." Making matters worse was the cliffhanger of a finale that left fans baffled. As the team tried to stop the changing course of history for America, fans rallied to do just the opposite - the Clockblockers, as they are known as, wanted to do everything in their power to bring 'Timeless' back.

Fans rallied on social media to send a message to the cast, crew, Sony and broadcaster NBC that they would fight for the beloved show, in hopes of garnering some form of closure to the second season’s cliffhanger. They decided to send their message loud and clear on a 4,000-square-foot banner, flown by helicopter for three hours at San Diego Comic-Con. A second helicopter documented the stunt via live stream for fans unable to attend in person. The campaign raised more than $23,000 in less than two weeks to fund the flyover.

After the successful stunt, NBC promised a two-part special event to air in December to give them some closure, but they continue their fight for a third season. Recently, they took to the Southern California coast. Beachgoers were treated to the campaign’s banners in flight on September 15. 

 

The Save Timeless campaign took to the skies at the San Diego Comic Con (Emily Schepker)
The Save Timeless campaign took to the skies at the San Diego Comic Con (Emily Schepker)

Emily Schepker, who coordinated both banner flights on behalf of the campaign says that the roots of the campaign weren't really in one place - just like the show, they transcend borders. "I couldn’t tell you exactly how the Save Timeless Fan Campaign was started. I don’t think it was any one person’s decision, it just sort of happened organically as soon as the announcement came that the show was canceled. Admittedly, there was already a movement in progress, as fans had been championing the Renew Timeless push for months, even while season two was still airing. I think one effort just sort of flowed directly into the other. It was the natural course of action, to want to save it when the fans are so continually passionate about the show." 

The fandom's campaign may have been rooted to hashtag that the writers of the show initially started called #SaveTimeless. "Since two other fandoms had recently sent a plane and banner flying over some networks’ buildings, we wanted to do something different so that whatever we did might hold a greater impact," informs Jordan Hawman, who is also a part of the Save Timeless Campaign.

Adding fuel to the fire was creator Shawn Ryan's tweet in July. He said, "@SPTV has notified @TheRealKripke and me that efforts to land #Timeless at another network have sadly failed. While Sony will continue to look at any and all options, actor deals have expired, and it appears there will be no Season 3 or beyond." This is when fans realized that they had to do something huge if they had to get noticed - until this time it was paperclip campaigns, a digital billboard and a twitter blitz. "(the tweet) decreased morale of many ClockBlockers involved," says Jordan.

The team had originally decided on a blimp but had to compromise on a helicopter after the quotes came back too steep. Even the helicopter stunt went up to $26,000, she says. Finally, after weeks of brainstorming and tireless work, they began catching the attention of some of the cast and a few journalists. Then the ball really got rolling. 

 

Fans at the SDCC Fan Meetup to save Timeless
Fans at the SDCC Fan Meetup to save Timeless

 

To some, 'Timeless' is just any other sci-fi drama, but to the fans, it's almost like a religion. Speaking of which Jordan says, "I think the fact that the Smithsonian Magazine publishes articles reviewing the history in each episode tells more about 'Timeless' than I ever could." Emily agrees, "I will continue to advocate for 'Timeless' because the show needs to be watched. Whether or not the story continues in any capacity passed the two-episode special in December, this show deserves to be seen by as many people as possible."

'Timeless' offers one of the most diversely talented casts and not in a way that’s diverse for the sake of being diverse, she says. "The diversity is never forced or loud or shoved in your face; it just is. It works itself seamlessly into the storytelling and is quiet and beautiful in its existence because the writing is phenomenal. Every character is beautifully nuanced. It doesn’t matter if they are “good” or “bad," we get to see bits and pieces of their story that remind us that they are all human. They all have pasts. They all have motivations for what they do that make you feel for them even if you don’t agree with them." 

 

Jordan Hawman, an avid fan and part of the Campaign (Jordan Hawman) 
Jordan Hawman, an avid fan and part of the Campaign (Jordan Hawman) 

To say they have tried is an understatement, but are the cast and showrunners fighting the battle alongside these unyielding soldiers? Jordan says, "I, personally, have not really had any contact with anyone. A handful of brief conversations, but never anything beyond 'Thank you.' The #SaveTimeless Fan Campaign has not had any official contact with anyone from the networks or the show either. A few individuals in the campaign have received some responses here and there from cast and showrunners, but in order for this to remain a 'fan campaign,' they cannot get particularly involved. But all of the responses, especially after SDCC, have been positive."

Emily tells us that she met Malcolm Barrett at the  San Diego Comic Con where he was enthusiastic about the campaign that she high-fived Chris Parnell after the helicopters flew. "I think the cast, writers, and everyone involved with the show have always made it super clear to us that they appreciate us. That they love the show, too, and would love to see it continue. I think they appreciate our efforts. But again, none of us have an open channel of communication with any of them, to my knowledge." 

Emily Schepker, a major face in the Save Timeless campaign poses with Malcolm Barett at the San Diego Comic Con (Emily Schepker)
Emily Schepker, a major face in the Save Timeless campaign poses with Malcolm Barett at the San Diego Comic Con (Emily Schepker)

 

Emily believes that the cast and the writers got as involved as they can. "I don’t want to start any rumors by pretending I know what goes on behind closed doors on their end, because I don’t. At all. But the cast and writers have always been very interactive on social media. They supported the HeliClockter flight. They participated the day off. But I would imagine, contractually, they just aren’t able to give us inside information, you know? When we were at SDCC people from Sony were at the fan meet up with us."

She adds, "They even brought a “#Clockblockers” sign for us to get pictures with. We very much had their support. I really believe they were communicating with us as much as they were able to. We’ve been told directly that we have made a difference. The cast, writers, and Sony are definitely aware of us, and they do have ways to reach us if they need to or want to. They know that and we know that. So, I’m confident they will be in touch if, and when that becomes necessary or an actual option and so forth."

 



 

At the time of the cancellation, Matt Lanter, who plays Wyatt Logan, was among the first to reach out to fans and tweeted, "I love you #Clockblockers. You’ve fought so hard and deserved so much more. "Co-star Abigail Spencer (aka Lucy Preston) added, "It’s true. Thank you for all your support #Timeless fans! It’s been an absolute joy playing your Lucy. I sincerely hope we get to do the Timeless movie to wrap up the story and get one more go to wrap up the series in a powerful & elegant way! More soon!" 

Since there isn't much substantial support coming from the cast, the fans seemed to have figured to go back to the basics - get more viewers. "If we bring in enough people to watch the two-episode special when it airs in December, then we will make 'Timeless' that much more appealing to other networks when Sony tries to shop it elsewhere. Then, after the two-episode special airs, our campaign will go into what I like to refer to as “Phase Three,” where we will resume our focus on other networks," says Jordan. They are trying to recruit new fans through the two seasons of 'Timeless' that are available to watch on Hulu before December.

 



 

#SaveTimeless is one of those rare campaigns that have the potential of becoming a revolution and truly proving that fans can make or break a show.  So far, there is no talk of any network coming forward to take up the show. Even though fans are still keeping the momentum going strong, it is about time the cast and the writers meet the fandom halfway and save 'Timeless' from their metaphorical Garcia Flynn.