Timeless: Historical Train Wreck or Win?


NBC is gearing up Timeless, a new series devoted to time travel, so of course the first thing that went through my mind was “YAAAS! MORE PRIMETIME HISTORICAL COSTUME SNARKING OPPORTUNITIES!!!”


Hee hee hee.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, I guess), after watching a bunch of previews, it actually looks straight up my alley and really good. Man, it’s going to be hard to hate on a show that hits almost all of my weaknesses in one go:

  1. History
  2. Costumes
  3. Time travel
  4. Vast governmental conspiracies that threaten the very fabric of the universe
  5. Luka from “ER” (aka, Goran Visnjic, aka “The Hotness”)

The pilot looks to be devoted to the Hindenburg accident in 1937, so not a terribly adventurous era by costume standards. That said, the hair, makeup, clothes all look pretty decent — at least there’s nothing egregiously wrong that stands out in two minutes of fast-cut aways. The costume credit on IMDB lists Wendy Partridge, who has worked on a bunch of high-budget action films in the last several years, including Trystan’s favorite, Van Helsing(Kidding. Trystan, don’t murder me.)

The only really stand-out costume in the trailer was worn by some blonde chick Amy, who I’m betting is going to be Wyatt’s dead wife’s historical doppelgänger that will turn up to cause AngstTM between him and Lucy.


Timeless (2016-18)

Before anyone howls about how her brows are wrong…


joan crawford

Joan Crawford takes exception to the implication that her brows aren’t a thing of perfection for the year 1937.


Timeless (2016-18)

Also, her hair is a nice, realistic, gal-on-the-go style for the ’30s.


Moving on, let’s look at the slick preview trailer that made the rounds on Facebook recently:

We see a lot of 20th-century war scenes, but the last historical montage does hint that the show will not stick strictly to only 20th-century events, like Quantum Leap tended to. We catch a glimpse of the trio of heroes walking into Ford’s Theatre after Abraham Lincoln, and we are given a glimpse of some Victorian dresses.


Timeless (2016-18)

The soon-to-be ex-President and wife. Her outfit is not great but chances are that whatever screen-time she’s going to get will be from the bust up, mitigating of that painfully fitted bodice. His outfit is pretty much standard issue Abe Lincoln drag. Nothing exciting here. Bonus points for casting an actress who looks like Mary Todd Lincoln, though.

Now back to our three heroes…

Timeless (2016-18)

Something about Rufus’ suit coat is not sitting right with me for the 1860s. I think it’s the lapels, but I’m not really sure. Lucy’s outfit looks promising, though. AND HER HAIR IS UP AND IN A BONNET. THANK YOU BABY JESUS.


Timeless (2016-18)

Yeah, that brown suit just isn’t right somehow. Is it the fit of the jacket? Gah! All I can think is that is screams mid-20th-century! Lucy’s dress is good overall, though I think the main issue with it is that it doesn’t suit the actress’ figure (tall, small-breasted, and muscular doesn’t tend to corset into the plump 1860s hourglass shape very well). I’m sure there’s something the CivWar people will decry about Wyatt’s Union outfit, but it’s not a good enough shot to tell right now.

So far not bad! Here’s hoping the network doesn’t cancel it before we get to see some 18th-century goodness.


Do you think Timeless is going to be a wreck or a win? Weigh in in the comments!


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

16 Responses

  1. eadon216

    Without being an expert, I think you’re probably right about the lapels on his coat. It seems like the “v” shape comes down too low. And I think it’s possible that the coat isn’t actually long enough. From what I’ve seen of 1860s mens fashion, it should hit closer to the knees. But maybe the actor is just really tall and they couldn’t find anything that came that low on him? That tie is really throwing me off too. I’m not fond of the color either, but I don’t really know if it’s historically accurate or not.

    Did they even bother to corset Mary Todd Lincoln???

    • MoHub

      On first glance, I thought that suit was supposed to be 1950s. I had flashbacks to George Reeves in Superman, and between the lapels and the shoulderpads, I certainly didn’t read 1865.

  2. Susan Pola

    Eadon216 stole my comment. That’s what I thought when I saw it. ? But Lucy’s 1860s dress does look like it fits in the bust and waist areas. Costumer should have looked more at photos of Alexandra Princess of Wales and her sister Marie Feodorovna. Both had tiny waist and looked slender.

  3. Emily Barry

    That jacket is pure 20th century. The cut, the lapels, yes, but the most of all those shoulder pads. There was still a soft, natural shoulder in the 1860s, and the sleeves would have an exaggeratedly wide elbow. The fit should be either very loose through the body (for the new, casual “sack” coat) or very closely fitted through the torso with a fuller “skirt” (the more formal “frock” coat), but either way, the lapels would be much smaller and button up much, much higher.

  4. Susan Pola

    Oops. Autocorrect. Should read Lucy’s dress looks Luke it doesn’t fit in the bust and waist. But I’m giving show a chance.
    I’ve been looking at photos of Albert Edward Prince of Wales around 1865 and his coats are cut differently. So perhaps Ms. Lorraine is correct on its appearance and I agree it should be longer.

    BTW are you podcasting Season 2 of Poldark.

  5. J Lou

    I also appears the Rufus’ trousers have a crease down the front. So far as I can find in a quick Google search, front creases came along in the 1890s, when the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) had his pressed that way. It was either because he was caught in the rain and the trousers were pressed to dry them, or because he decided a front crease was slimming!

    • J Lou

      It’s an autocorrect kind of day! That first sentence should read “It also appears . . . .”

  6. Ticia Adventures in Mommydom

    Her hair drove me nuts through the episode. It felt like they tried for her outfit, but didn’t try for her hair. I’m not great at hair, but I know enough to know it was wrong, it was exactly what she had in her modern day hair.
    Next week is the Lincoln episode, and the episode hinted at having a 1960s episode with the moon landing somewhere in there.

  7. Daniel Milford-Cottam

    The crinoline dress is lovely. It does need something around the waist, a belt with attached peplum in the back, or a Swiss style waist, but I really like it even if it’s not a great style for her figure.

  8. ladylavinia1932

    Her hair drove me nuts through the episode. It felt like they tried for her outfit, but didn’t try for her hair. I’m not great at hair, but I know enough to know it was wrong, it was exactly what she had in her modern day hair.

    Frankly, the story for this series has intrigued me, so I’m not going to nitpick about the costumes. Especially since the government agency that they work for are not particularly accurate about the wardrobe that they give the leads. I still remember Abigail Spencer’s character complaining about the historically inaccurate skirt that she was forced to wear.

    • Ticia Adventures in Mommydom

      I totally agree, I’m intrigued enough to watch more, and I’m not going to nitpick too much, but the character’s comments were what drove me to notice it so much. She made such a big deal about the inaccuracies of her outfit, and didn’t even touch her hair.

      It just stood out so much to me so much when we saw the rest of the episode and the other characters were correct for my limited knowledge. Also, my husband kept asking me to explain different parts, so it kept being brought back to my attention on this episode.

  9. Susan Pola

    Missed it last night. Was watching Hayley Atwell’s new series. Will catch it next week

  10. LE

    Just watched the second episode and from what I can tell the photo of the three of them with Rufus in the brown suit is actually from a later episode that takes place in 1836 — not sure if it makes it better or worse, but that era was sort of known for shoulder pad and lapels.

  11. Tamara

    OK this is super snarky and I’m sorry but I just can’t watch that actress. Her face really puts me off.