Star Eric McCormack gets Red Alert on board with Netflix’s new time travel drama
IT HAS LINKS TO STARGATE AND STAR TREK (SORT OF)
1 Travelers was written, created and produced by Brad Wright, who co-created all three live-action Stargate series. “Brad Wright lost a bet,” McCormack jokes when asked about being cast in the lead role of Traveler 3468, aka FBI Special Agent Grant MacLaren. “Brad wrote the episode of The Outer Limits that I was in 23 years ago so we’ve been sort of aware of each other for some time.” That episode, “Tempests”, aired in 1997, a year before McCormack starred in Free Enterprise, a comedy about Trekkies featuring William Shatner.
THE FUTURE IS HISTORY
2 Travelers’ premise posits that hundreds of years from now humanity will be almost wiped out. The travellers are sent back in time to save it. What brings about the collapse won’t be revealed immediately, though. “This is a time travel show where we never leave 2016 because the time travelling is being done from the future to now,” McCormack explains. “It’s such a crucial pivoting point for a world that we find over the course of the first season goes increasingly wrong.”
THE DEAD WILL RISE
3 Rather than send flesh and blood back in time, future humans have discovered a way to transmit consciousness into minds that have moments of life left. “We travellers from the future don’t arrive in our own bodies,” McCormack explains. “We arrive in the form of people who are living right now – it could be anybody; it could be you – but we take their bodies just before they die. We know exactly when and where they die because of social media. So while nobody else in your life knows that technically you were supposed to have died at that moment, we know.”
FACEBOOK SAVES THE FUTURE
4 Mark Zuckerberg as humanity’s last hope doesn’t sound like an idea that would appeal to privacy advocates. Nonetheless, the notion that personal information shared on sites like Facebook and Twitter will provide an important account of our time is a key element of Travelers. “Brad was saying that for him this was really the beginning of the idea,” McCormack reveals. “They used to say that history was being written by the winners but now history is being written by everybody. Everybody’s crazy texted, tweeted thought will become part of an historical record, which is part of the reason why we travellers come back to this particular time.”
IT’S AMERICAN SCI-FI DONE BRITISH STYLE
5 The series premiere was directed by Nick Hurran, who cut his teeth on the late-1980s British sitcom Never The Twain and more recently helmed several episodes of Doctor Who and Sherlock. “We knew that visually and tone-wise this show was going to have a very, very different feel than a network show,” says McCormack. “Nick took what he’d been practicing on Sherlock and he set up the shots in the weirdest way. All the other directors were so excited by what he did.”
Travelers airs on Showcase in Canada this month and on Netflix later this year.