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The pilot episode of Timeless, debuting tonight on NBC at 10pm ET, opens with a special-effects-heavy staging of the Hindenburg disaster, but the show really begins with a dick joke.
The line arrives as crowds of men swarm across mud-covered grass holding ropes, members of the press fawn in eager anticipation of the ill-fated Zeppelin, and a very serious-looking title card informs us that it's May 6th, 1937 -- an ominous date for anyone who paid attention in history class. "Can you believe something this big actually flies?" asks a scruffy sailor to a plucky young female reporter. "Men," says the reporter, shaking her head. "Always obsessed with how big something is."
It's a true groaner and an awkward opening to the series -- especially because we're about to watch people die in a big explosion -- but it effectively signals what makes Timeless a spry anomaly in the current television landscape.