In many ways, Timeless is a joyful and goofy throwback to a pre-prestige TV era: it has less in common with Westworld the TV show than it does with Westworld the movie. Its lack of narrative ambition doesn't make it bad: slightly cheesy but entertaining shows like Sliders, Voyagers!, and Early Edition entertained sci-fi fans for years. None of those shows are classics, but they were fun, clever, and an effective way to spend a couple hours.
For a brief period in the mid-'00s, serialized dramas like Lost, 24, and Friday Night Lights straddled the line between accessible network fare and more narratively daring cable shows, picking up critical acclaim and loyal viewers in the process. At least in the pilot, Timeless doesn't straddle anything. It feels smaller than something like Fringe or the countless other sci-fi shows that arrived in Lost's wake. Instead, Timeless affirms a valuable lesson all TV viewers could stand to remember as budgets balloon and episode run-times expand beyond the hour mark: size doesn't always matter.