Travelers: Season 1
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Travelers: Season 1

Within the next week or so I’m about to become a grandfather. I look forward to being able to tell the child about before the totally immersive environment of entertainment. with streaming video, cable and 4K Ultra high-resolution disc there are an incredible number of sources for movies and television series. I’m anxious to the look on the child’s face upon learning Grandpa only had seven television channels. They were in low resolution and to watch something you had to look up the time and channel and make certain to be in front of the TV at the right time for the single showing of the program. Currently, I watch most of my entertainment through video on demand and rarely even know the date or time it was shown. One of my favorite sources of film and television d the streaming video service Netflix. Exempt from the content restriction imposed by the FCC the material is and to pursue more mature forms of entertainment. this has quickly allowed the service to be recognized as an award-winning place for some of the most ingenious and original content anywhere. Like most of the premium cable network Netflix has been producing a continuous set of original programing that has been my go to source for my favorites. One of the most recent is ‘Travelers’. Time travel has been a favorite plot point in science fiction with modern time travel tales started in the nineteenth century with the iconic ‘The Time Machine’ by H.G. Wells’. It set the precedent to move through the forth dimension utilizing a machine able of breaking a fundamental rule of the universe.

Most stories of this category rely on a device or circumstance to physically move through time. The ‘Travelers’ employs a fascinating variation. A person in the future can have their essence sent back to inhabit a body in the past. To avoid complications. The host in the past is known to have died at a precise time and location. The target must be in the twentieth century due to require of detained records with smart phones and GPS for location. At the exact instant of death, the future self will assume control. Inspired in part by the technology of Quantum Leap’ down to the detail of setting right events but different in that the switch is permanent. I was drawn inexorably in before the end of the first episode. It is an example of revitalizing previously popularized themes. It is extremely difficult for a screen writer to devise a completely novel character or situation. What currently serves as excellence is derived from this type of retooling. Like the television series, the new identity, the eponymous travelers assume the life of the host in medias res, ‘leaping’ into a time and place devoid of any context that might assist in acclimating to the substantial chronological displacement. Thanks to talented writers and showrunners this concept goes beyond the initial introduction of the traveler in the twenty first, as our time is called. The conditions that are set influence the development of the character and how the narrative can unfold. The chaotic nature of this plot device is ideally balanced by several constants set in place.

In an unspecified time in the future the world has experienced an apocalyptic event that has left the globe in ruin. A technology is developed that sends the consciousness of an operative back to the past. The mission is to enact changes in the timeline that will alter the historical record. Specifically, to avoid the cataclysmic event that nearly ended humanity. Initially, that entailed preventing a meteor from colliding with the earth. To achieve this a new piece of technology had to be co-opted and enhanced to produce a force a slight change in the trajectory. Just a slight alteration made at a distance sufficiently far off will culminate in a near miss rather than the lethal impact. This echoes the fundamental concept behind the Traveler’s program, small changes in the timeline will have snowballing effects. Most stories based on the use of time travel go through great lengths to avoid paradoxical effects such as the famous variation of ‘The Butterfly Effect’ first used by Sci-Fi icon, Ray Bradbury. This series embraces that effect as the central theme. With this road map for the story line there are inherent dangers of accidental contamination of the time line. To avoid this the computer program in charge, The Director, has implemented a set of immutable protocols.

  1. The mission comes first.
  2. Never jeopardize your cover:
  3. a. Do not call each other by future names—"Leave the future in the past."

    b. Do not use future knowledge for personal gain.

  4. Don't take a life; don't save a life, unless otherwise directed.
  5. Do not reproduce.
  6. In the absence of direction, maintain your host's life.
  7. No inter-team/deep web communication except in extreme emergencies.

During the series each protocol is explored and, in several instances, bent, circumvented or broken.

There is also a notable uniformity to the construction of the teams. They are comprised of six members with clearly defined functions. Each team is assigned the following; The leader, Grant MacLaren (Traveler 3468) (Eric McCormack), the medic, Marcy Warton (Traveler 3569) (MacKenzie Porter), the tactician, Carly Shannon (Traveler 3465) (Nesta Cooper), the engineer, Trevor Holden (Traveler 0115) (Jared Abrahamson) and the historian, Philip Pearson (Traveler 3326) (David Mailer). As his identification number indicates, the engineer is one of the oldest human beings in the future. It is never explicitly stated but the number correlates to the age of the individual. Grant is a Special Agent with the FBI, a position that provides access to a myriad of potentially useful information. The downside is he must explain away a constant string of covert mission related absences have to be made. The two most inquisitive in his life are the wife, Kat (Leah Cairns) and FBI partner, Walt Forbes (Arnold Pinnock). Marcy’s host was an intellectually disabled woman just barely able to function on her own. At the moment of the insertion the real Marcy was being hassled by a group of thugs. She went from a frightened, helpless young woman to one that has been trained in hand to hand combat. As the Historian, Philip was pre-programmed in the future with the outcomes of a broad range of gambling opportunities to fund the missions. The problem his host is severely addicted to heroin. Marcy did her best to control it, but the cravings constantly interfered with his work. Ironically, Trevor, the oldest in the future, is a high school student who must explain his constant absences to parents and teachers. One of the worst host situations belongs to Carly, a mother of an infant with a physically and emotionally abusive husband. Making matters substantially, he’s a police officer. Carly has no recourse to abate the abuse. Plus, she must find a baby sitter for mission time. In another instance of irony, the most combat ready and decisive of the group is trapped in a helpless situation. The mission steadily goes off the rails and to old things together practically every protocol, rule and regulation. Over the course of the first season the character development is nothing short of stellar. With taut writing, impeccable direction and a cast of talented professionals this series is a true example of why binge watching was created. Although not yet available on disc, it is part of the Netflix growing catalogue of original programming.

Posted             01/15/2018

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