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Timeless: EP Shawn Ryan says TV is too dark

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Joe Lederer/NBC; Inset: Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Timeless won’t be humorless. Though the NBC adventure drama’s showrunners Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan spoke of how the series’ approach to history would be a “really visceral, grounded attack” that would delve into racism and sexism in August, the pair say the story won’t be tackling social issues all the time.

“The show is really fun and swashbuckling and exciting and accessible and very early [Steven] Spielberg,” Kripke tells EW, referring to the celebrated director. “I think the news that came out of the TCAs was a lot about racism, and that’s true, and we’re not shying away from all of that, but this is a kick-ass show that I think is going to entertain the hell out of people.”

Ryan agrees, adding that the series is a way to lighten up TV’s trend toward darker and darker shows. “A lot of television has gotten very dark,” he says. “This is a show you can watch with your kids. You’ll be entertained first.”

That comment, though, prompted laughter from Kripke, who quickly pointed out that Ryan, as the creator of The Shield, is “one of the architects of dark television.”

“I’m partly to blame, certainly,” Ryan admits, “but The Shield was a reaction to not enough dark television, and now it feels like the pendulum has swung the other way, and sometimes you want to sit down and watch something really fun and entertaining, but also smart. I think we’ve got into the idea that dark television is smart television, and that everything else is not smart, but we reject that notion and feel like, in the same way that Jurassic Park was really well made but fun, so we keep stressing the Michael Crichton-slash-Steven Spielberg of it all as models of things we’re aspiring to be like.” Just with a time machine instead of dinosaurs rampaging through a theme park, of course.

Timeless premieres Monday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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