I still need to finish blogging about the last few episodes of classic Doctor Who. And then I’m on to Star Trek: The Original Series. But I want to at least mention (even though I don’t plan to blog about every episode) the current series Timeless. A colleague of mine clued me in that the show is borrowed (or ripped off, if you prefer) from the Spanish TV series El Ministerio del Tiempo. I haven’t watched the latter and so can’t comment. My colleague prefers the Spanish original, but is enjoying Timeless as well.
The three episodes that have aired so far have been engaging and emotionally moving. The exploration of issues of race and gender past and present has been woven into things nicely. And I’ve really enjoyed the way the characters have started to articulate and to challenge ideas that things are “meant to be” or “dumb luck.” The question of when history is “close enough” that one can say it has been “saved” is also interesting, as is the knock-on effect that even minor changes can have in an individual life.
This relates directly to a discussion of free will that I had recently on Facebook, in response to a blog post on that topic. It seems that time travel and history get nicely at the balance between causality and freedom. History isn’t “random” – there are causal factors and constraints. There are moments at which one person acting decisively can make a huge difference in the fragile early days of a nation. And there are moments when even a devastating attack will not be enough to destroy that long-established country. Each individual is influenced by countless factors, and yet unless our experience is completely misleading us, we have the potential to do otherwise than we do. And like subatomic phenomena, what one individual will do can be very hard to predict, and yet on the larger scale matter and societies behave predictably.