Travelers: Aleksander – Challenges (Review)

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Travelers “Aleksander” continues to be unlike most time travel shows. Not only do the future “saviors” have to adjust to their host’s lives, but they have to change to fit the times. Some of the adjustments are amusing, such as Trevor’s hesitant taste of sweetcorn and his subsequent delight at this new treat.

Others, like Philip’s host’s addiction to heroin threatens his sanity, his conscience and, later, the group’s mission. By violating protocol 3, which equates to neither taking nor saving a life, he endangers not only himself but the purpose of their visit.

Each traveler is affected by the lives that their hosts led before taking over their bodies. Maclaren turns out to be a crack shot with a handgun, something that amazes his partner at the FBI. Amusingly, he also cannot tie a necktie, so he wears the same one for three days.

It is also pointed out, almost in passing, that he was not changing his underwear either. When his wife jokingly poses the question, he says, in a throw-away murmur, “underwear.” In the future, apparently, people do not wear undergarments or, at the very least, do not have to change them.

Trevor, whose host was a bit of a bad lad, changes dramatically. He is now nice, except to his “girlfriend” who is a bully. So too was Trevor before he was taken over.

Marcy is now staying with her social worker and all premises of being mentally challenged, as a result of her terminal illness, has been dispensed with. David is still having issues with the whole thing but he does lie to the cop who comes to question him about his ward.

Philip is not just suffering because of the heroin. He attends the funeral of the friend of his host who died on the same day. His mate’s mother goes off on Philip who then feels guilty. Using his knowledge of the past, he has bets placed on certain things and has the money sent to the parents.

The heroin addict also lies to his fellow travelers telling them that they have a new mission. A Romanian boy has been kidnapped; his name is Aleksander, and his body will be found in a basement if they do not rescue the lad.

The team get together and collect firearms. The lad is located. There are dead bodies in the basement showing that Aleksander is not the first boy that the crazy couple have taken. They call the lad Patrick and Maclaren asks the boy in Romanian if that is really his name. The youngster says no.

A brief shootout ensues. The man and woman are shot dead and Philip is wounded. Marcy fixes him up and as Grant gets angry at the  lies and intrusiveness of Philip’s actions. She explains that he is addicted to heroin and that she can, in time, get him off the stuff.

Travelers is not the normal cliched story about time travel. Each character is looked at from two standpoints. The traveler who is there to save the world and the host they must inhabit and emulate. Each episode gives the viewer more insight into how difficult this balancing act is.

However not all characters are being delved into equally. Carly, the single mum, has not had a lot of screen time. She has not been focused upon too much as a result.  That may well change as the series goes on but for now Ms.Shannon is a bit of a mystery.

Travelers creator Brad Wright has stepped right outside the box for this time travel tale with a difference. His decision to leave what have become tropes in this particular category of science fiction has delivered a show that entertains while making the audience think and talk about the events as they transpire.

The series is streaming on Netflix and can be downloaded for offline viewing. Head on over and check this one out. See what challenges this group of time travelers still face.

Cast:

Guest starring David Raynolds as Aleksander/Patrick.

Travelers: Netflix Joins the Time Travel Game (Review)

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2016 is definitely the year of time travel. NBC’s Timeless is all about jumping from time to time, and trying to keep things from changing too much.  Netflix offered up Stranger Things, a series less about time travel than it was about parallel universes, “The upside down,” (shudder).

(Hulu actually beat Netflix to time travel as a theme when they produced the Stephen King time travel series 11.22.63.)

Netflix has joined the time travel brigade with Travelers. Show creator Brad Wright has given us a different sort of travel in this series. With a background very heavily involved with science fiction – Stargate and horror/thriller – Outer Limits, it is not surprising that Wright has his travelers taking over the nearly newly deceased. 

The premiere episode reveals that these visitors from the future inhabit people who are just about to die. They then take over the human host and carry on with their mission.

It all feels a little like Richard Laymon’s 1996 horror story Body Rides with a touch of Stephen King’s mode of travel (between worlds) in both King’s Dark Tower series and The Talisman, his collaborative effort with Peter Straub,  and their follow up tale Black House.

In the first episode, we are taken up to the actual point of death of a number of individuals who have no connection.  As they die, there is a discernable high pitched hum and the person dying screams while clutching their head.

They then become the time traveler.

There is, they say, a catastrophic event looming on the not so distant horizon.  We learn this when the affable  FBI Special Agent Grant Maclaren finds the group on the roof of a highrise. As he approaches the travelers, he is taken over by the final member of this time tripping group.

The entire first episode sets up each character as they become inhabited by the visitors from the future.  One has an abusive cop partner, the lawman actually kills her, allowing the traveler to enter.

Another is a mentally challenged young woman who spent her formative years in an institution that specialized in abuse. A drug addict and a bare knuckle fighter are also part of the group.

The FBI agent is the last to join.

Travelers also feels a tad like Twelve Monkeys, with its plot of saving the world from decimating its population. It is even slightly reminiscent of the 1992 David Twohy film Timescape, aka, Grand Tour: Disaster in Time. The latter film deals with visitors from the future who want a front row seat to catastrophic events.

Netflix slipped this series in rather quietly, perhaps they feared an unwarranted comparison to the NBC offering, and it aired its final episode on 23 December.  The most familiar face in the show is that of former Will and Grace star Eric McCormack, who plays Special Agent Maclaren. 

The main players are, for the most part, well journeyed performers with an impressive amount of credits. While not as familiar to American audiences, Travelers is a Canadian production, the acting is tight and enables the viewer to get caught up in the story quickly.

Wright’s tale of time travelers seeking to save the world is not as odd as The OA or as history and pop culture oriented as 11.22.63. It is, however, interesting. A slightly different take on time travel.

This is not about not altering the timeline, it could care less about the butterfly effect, Travelers want to change the past to save the future.  It is still streaming on Netflix. Go and check it out and see what you think.

Cast:

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