Oh the rules of fiction – in order to have the Obligatory Character Development one must provide the Requisite Backstory, even if we’re talking about your basic Canadian Cable TV Science Fiction. This series has several good ideas (Travelers, on Netflix), many good ideas in fact, that routinely get positively drowned in gooey, syrupy, dismal and dreadful back stories. The one guy’s tedious wife has a terrible pregnancy. The medic has her empathy surgically removed. The hot head is married to a wife beater. The drug addict gets addicted to new and exciting drugs. The teen football sensation who is also the world’s oldest human suffers from A.D.D. (asshole dad disease). They are a team, sent from the future by an Advanced AI (The Director) in order to change history so that there will be no such future and no such people because the future is gonna be shite. In the meantime, several sensational ideas are casually dropped in:
- the travelers take over the bodies of people at their moment of their otherwise death (awesome!)
- young children are temporarily used as involuntary messengers when The Director has to change plans at the last second
- time travelers sometimes have to try six, seven, eight even nine times to fix problems, each time a new candidate occupying a dying host and then dying themselves upon failure
- there’s a guy (Philip, the drug addict) who has every trivial detail of the known future memorized.
- but then how every time a mission occurs the future is changed in some way so that pretty soon nobody knows what the fuck is going on
- So Philip gets a green pill update with the new future every now and then
- The travelers occupy bodies that are nothing like their original ones, so the black lady was never a black lady at all, the teenager was 100 years old, the medical specialist is stuck in the body of a mentally defective young woman.
- Of course there’s a Faction (I assume they are fans of Lemony Snicket’s VFD) who are fighting against The Director but exactly How or Why or When or Whatever is never very clear.
BUT, in between all these sometimes ingenious plot devices we have minute upon minute of Exposition, Character Development, Backstory, Personal Issues, Hugging and Learning, trying so hard to get us to give a fuck about these particular “hosts”. OMG! It’s just the writingness of the thing that drives me crazy. You can just see the writers room busily filling up boxes on the story board, checking off items, working out details. Marcy needs to learn how to fuck with genuine feeling! Jeff has to get off the booze somehow! Grant really needs to show Kat how much he truly madly deeply loves her even though she is as annoying as anyone has ever been in the history of the modern world. Trevor is goodness no matter the cost and Philip, well, Philip better damn well stock up on yellow pills because they’re the only thing that keep him from visualizing multiple alternate timelines concurrently (another nifty notion, seriously).
Every episode I’m torn between watching and turning it off, even moment by moment. Sometimes I just have to pause the show and Scream, which family does not appreciate. I want to give this show every god damn award and then take it away immediately. Love it. Hate it. Wish I could just get the parts I like dripped intravenously. Maybe The Directory can make that happen for me.