I remember hearing something about a new time travel-themed show called Travelers that sounded interesting. Unfortunately it slipped my mind to keep an eye out for the premiere, but then I got a message from one of my regular readers mentioning that they’d fallen in love with the show and recommending I try it. Showcase’s website had the first two episodes available to watch, so I gave it a go.
In the world of Travelers, some unnamed disaster in the far-flung future has wiped out most of humanity. In order to prevent this grisly fate, the technology has been developed to send people’s consciousnesses back in time, where they possess the body of someone moments before their death.
The first episode introduces us to one particular team of travelers (apparently there’s an entire army of them) as they enter their hosts and adjust to life in the twenty-first century.
It’s not a strong start.
Travelers’ pilot is very slow and tells us precious little about what is actually going on. I have a certain feeling of being strung along in the hopes of answers, which is something I truly hate in fiction.
It’s already clear that a lot of the series is going to be devoted to showing the travelers’ struggles to maintain their covers and cope with their new lives — the pilot is devoted almost entirely too this — but that’s not an angle that much appeals to me. I’d rather focus on the sci-fi.
I will grant that a few of the concepts are a bit interesting. One traveler, Philip, landed in the body of a heroine addict and is now struggling to cope with his withdrawals, and another, Marcy, wound up possessing a mentally challenged woman and now has to explain why she can suddenly read and use complete sentences.
There are other problems too, such as numerous plot holes. Supposedly most of their intelligence on the past comes from mining the Internet for data, yet apparently they don’t understand Internet slang?
There’s a lot of stuff like that. One moment, the travelers’ knowledge of the past is encyclopedic, the next they’re running into all kinds of problems due to their incomplete intelligence. Marcy being one of the more prominent examples.
Furthermore, it’s clearly established that their goal is to change the past, on a large scale, and yet sometimes they seem determined not to change history. At one point there’s a scene where one traveler has the chance to save someone from death, but he doesn’t because that death was “supposed” to happen according to history. It would be a powerful scene, but the whole point of the travelers’ mission is to change history and save lives, so it just doesn’t make any sense.
The one thing I can say in Travelers’ favour right now is the cast seems really strong. Every actor seems unusually comfortable in their roles for a pilot, and they’re all putting on strong performances.
Overall rating: 5.9/10
Travelers’ second episode is a bit less uneventful, though still not terribly impressive.
With the team assembled, the travelers embark on their first mission: preventing a massive explosion that originally claimed thousands of lives. The sudden shift from fishes out of water to expert team saving the world is a bit jarring, but at least it’s a little more interesting.
There’s not quite as much time wasted on each character’s alter ego, and the pacing isn’t quite so slow, but there’s still a fair bit of problems. There’s still that inexplicable disconnect between their trying to alter the past while also trying not to alter the past. There’s still no clue what happened to make the future so bad, and no hint of any over-arching storyline. It will be a tremendous waste of potential if this turns out to be a “case of the week” show.
I don’t understand why the different traveler teams aren’t allowed to help each other, either, but add it to the list, I guess.
Overall rating: 6.1/10 I’m not sure if I’m going to keep watching this show right now. There’s some potential, but it certainly hasn’t impressed me so far.
All apologies to the fellow he recommended it to me. I’m sure this isn’t the glowing review you were hoping for.