Travelers debuts tonight on Showcase with one of the most memorable opening scenes I’ve seen on television. Viewers are going to be blown away, and the storytelling continues at an intense pace after that initial hook.
Created by Brad Wright (Stargate), Travelers stars Eric McCormack as Grant MacLaren, an FBI agent who isn’t what he seems. Despite walking around in our timeline, he is actually the consciousness of a man from the future who inhabits Grant’s body. That’s the case for Marcy Warton (MacKenzie Porter), Trevor Holden (Jared Abrahamson), Carly Shannon (Nesta Cooper) and Philip Pearson (Reilly Dolman) as well. All are “Travelers” from hundreds of years in the future, sent back to perform missions. This group, along with thousands of other travellers around the globe, are trying to change history and save humanity from a horrible future.
We spoke to MacKenzie Porter and Eric McCormack about the 12-episode Season 1 and what fans can expect starting tonight.
I’ve never seen a show begin the way Brad Wright did with the first episode of Travelers. People are going to be saying, ‘What the heck is going on?’ It must have been exciting to read that first script.
Eric McCormack: On paper, it was great. MacKenzie went off and learned incredible martial arts stuff. And to have the least fortunate girl get her revenge right at the beginning of the show, was a pretty kick-ass beginning.
MacKenzie Porter: It was pretty nerve-wracking for me because it’s the first time anyone sees my character and it’s a pretty big scene to open up a show.
I also like the fact Travelers is rooted in the present, with the consciousnesses going back in time rather than have folks wearing outrageous outfits or carrying otherworldly technology. And the show also plays on the fact we rely on social media so much for facts and can backfire when it comes to Marcy.
MP: It’s a bit of a misfire with my character. Her social media profile was made up.
EM: They don’t get all of the information. I think that premise, that in the future they’ll be able to rely on everything people write on Twitter or this Facebook page … you can’t. We’re all communicating with each other all the time, but relying on them only part of the time. There is nothing reliable about the permanent record they’re relying on.
The whole concept of what a fact is is gone. There used to be a set of facts and you could argue both sides of it. Now there are just two sets of facts, period. Good luck trying to convince someone who is voting for Trump in your facts.
Let’s talk about the future the travellers are coming from. Do you know what it’s like? Will viewers? Will we see the future at any point via flashback?
MP: There are no flashbacks.
EM: We know. We asked lots of questions. On Day 1, it was sort of question time and we said, ‘Brad, tell us what we need to know.’ But he made it clear that the audience would only know this little by little and not visually.
MP: I like that we don’t see the future. That might get a little cheesy, creating that world. We’re always in present day and I think that’s what makes our show a drama, and very realistic.
EM: The audience is going to be hungry for that and we will give it to them in little pieces. There is a mystery to be solved there and that is ‘Why are we here and how bad could it be that this was worth doing?’
Are the missions this team goes on integral to changing our fate?
EM: I think it’s in Episode 4 when reference is made that there are travellers all over the world and some of their missions will involve elections, some will involve assassinations. In this case, we start off pretty big with an anti-matter device and we don’t even know until Episode 6 what we need it for. I kind of like that sort of Second World War idea where you only know the code for the thing you have; anything else would endanger your life because you’re not allowed to know. We’re kind of operating in the dark.
The music and lighting are atmospheric and dark, as is the overall storyline, but there are crucial moments of levity like Grant spitting out coffee because it has cow’s milk in it, or Trevor having a morning erection. You need those breaks.
MP: I think it’s important because that’s how you fall in love with the characters. I love that scene with Jared when he wakes up.
EM: You also find out that Jared’s character is in fact the oldest one of all of us, so for him to land in the body of a 17-year-old with a constant erection is even better. A lot of the funny of the show are your scenes with David because Patrick Gilmore is hysterical and because Marcy is such a serious character. He brings out a romance and a smile.
The press materials talk about how the travellers are there for a mission and they have unexpected relationships with people in our time. But, I see this show as about people getting a second chance and living a new life. Is that part of it?
EM: I think so.
MP: The future people have been training for years and I don’t know if they would fall in love the way we do today. For them it was all about survival in that time. Coming back and living in an easier time, they loosen up a bit more, especially Marcy.
EM: So often in time travel, someone from now goes into a time of the Black Plague or something and it’s not a lot of fun. These people are from a horrible time and, suddenly, there is so much delicious stuff. There is fresh air and sunshine, so they’re very much seduced in a way they didn’t count on.
Travelers airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Showcase. It will be broadcast on Netflix internationally later this year.
Images courtesy of Corus.