Time travel is not a new idea in fiction, and time travelling for the sake of saving the future isn’t a new idea either. So the big question walking into Travelers, the new sci-fi series from Stargate SG-1 co-creater Brad Wright, was how would the age old tale of changing the past to save the future be spun anew for a modern, savvy audience. The premiere episode of Travelers was screened at Fan Expo Canada Saturday followed by a Q&A with Wright and series star Eric McCormack, and the two are confident that Travelers will get people hooked like Wright’s last great sci-fi opus.
Taking place in modern times, Travelers follows five people from the far future, whose consciousnesses have been downloaded into bodies on the verge of death so they can carry out their mission in the present: to tweak the timeline and avoid a bleak and desolate future. “I wanted to do something different, something here in the now with the strong themes that I like writing about,” said Wright. “Social media was the inspiration because it’s been around for 10 to 15 years now, and we’ve been putting out an identity that isn’t typically our own.”
One of the interesting conceits of Travelers is the idea that the future agents have used the social media profiles of their potential hosts as research. That becomes a problem right away for Marcy (MacKenzie Porter) who downloads into the body of someone she believes is a librarian, but turns out to be a mentally challenged woman who actually cleans the library.
“What we’ll learn is how imperfect social media is as a record going forward, and we’re all going to find out things that we didn’t know about our hosts,” said McCormack. “The idea going forward is that you’ll see us live a double life. They’ll never be at home in their own bodies as they go about their mission.”
McCormack plays FBI agent MacLaren, the Travelers’ leader, and a man in a key position to allow the group to go about their mission. “MacLaren’s Traveler had to learn how to be an FBI agent in order to pass as an FBI agent,” Wright explained about how the Travelers are able to integrate into their host’s life, a process that’s far from perfect as we will learn. “Brad is very good and dolling out the information, but the reason were here is the future’s not so great. Things like sunshine and food, everything’s a revelation to the Travelers,” McCormack added.
Moving forward, the focus of the series will be on the character’s present day adventures. Wright said that he wasn’t planning on diving too deep into the mythology of the future world, or exploring where and when the Travelers are coming from, the focus is on the mission, and how they might prevent that world they left behind. “There are six protocols that must be followed, and the first is stick to the mission,” Wright said. “Nothing is arbitrary, but they just can’t behave however they want. There are people they can save because it’s their job, and there are people they can’t save.”
The first season will explore a bit the idea of paradoxes, according to Wright, and it will also explore the how the Travelers will have to deal with the fact that after their mission is accomplished, if it’s accomplished, they’re still here to stay on what is, in essence, an alien world. “Episodes 8 through 12 are just a ride,” he added. “It’s one big story, but I also think of it as a hybrid [show]. I don’t like punishing a viewer for missing an episode, but their are rewards for people as they follow it along.”
As for the prospect of actually time travelling, Wright and McCormack were split. “I’d like it be November 9 and get Donald Trump out of my life,” joked McCormick. “The funny thing about Travelers is that the people in the distant future have no hope, they’re trying to avoid a bad, bad ending and I wouldn’t want to go back because I might screw up where I am right now,“ added Wright.
Travelers premieres Monday October 17 on Showcase in Canada, and then bow everywhere on Netflix in December.