It seems almost impossible anymore to do “grounded” science-fiction – you know, the kind that takes place in the present reality – without some kind of time-travel component.
But how do you keep it fresh and new? How do you make it stand out in a world crowded with television programs?
If you’re Brad Wright, you just turn the entire genre on its head.
Wright – who brought Stargate to television in the form of Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate: Universe – is combining elements of Quantum Leap with the popular Canadian series Continuum.
The result? Travelers, a series that makes its American debut Friday on Netflix when all 10 episodes become available.
Travelers is set in the present, but the story really begins hundreds of years from now after the last surviving humans discover how to send consciousness through time, directly into people in the 21st century. These “travelers” then assume the lives of seemingly random people, while secretly working to save humanity from a terrible future.
Their only weapons are the knowledge they have of history, the skills they developed in the future, and an archive of social media profiles. But adapting to 21st century life, working to save the world, and realizing that people aren’t exactly honest on those social media profiles, proves to be far more challenging than anyone ever expected.
In fact, as Wright told GeekNation during a recent interview, one character named Marcy Warton (played by Mackenzie Porter) learned that the hard way, when she jumped into the body of a woman who was nothing like her Facebook profile claimed.
“The idea started with the concept of social media in general that we have been putting out there for the last 10 to 15 years – our images of ourselves on Facebook and other mediums that may or may not be who we are, or who we really are. We project what we want the world to see, and not who we really are.”
It’s a fascinating thought, thinking about who we are, and who we project on Facebook or Twitter, and how different those characters are. But then again, actors make a living of portraying someone they’re not. Yet, that didn’t make the characters in Travelers any less challenging.
Even for Emmy-winning actor Eric McCormack, probably best known for his comedic role in NBC’s Will & Grace, who takes on a much more serious part in the form of FBI agent Grant MacLaren. McCormack told GeekNation that the cast is able to bring their experiences as actors into the characters, because in the end, these characters have to act like the people of the bodies they are now inhabiting.
“I think most actors feel like a fraud most of the time. You feel like a fraud as an actor well enough, and you feel like a fraud in life because half the time you’re thinking like an actor. You’re not listening to the conversation. I wonder how I will say that line, and that kind of distraction – that kind of third eye – it plays really well.”
The travelers are always undercover, and rarely get a break from that. It’s something McCormack found familiar, because actors have the same problem: “You can never really fully relax.”
The first season of Travelers already aired on the Canadian channel Showcase in the fall, but it will likely be its performance on Netflix that will decide the fate of the show that’s all about changing fate.
Wright, who has a history of putting together long-running shows, is ready if fans demand more.
“I have multiple seasons of ideas, and we have an arc going forward. We are having a lot of fun making this, and I’m in no hurry to wrap anything up.”
Travelers stars McCormack, Porter, Nesta Cooper, Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman and Patrick Gilmore. It debuts Dec. 23 on Netflix.
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