By Dave B.
Far in the future, with humanity on the brink of extinction, specially trained teams journey to the early twenty-first century to reshape the flow of history so that the cataclysms that led to such a wretched future never come to pass. These Travelers have their consciousnesses implanted into individuals moments before they were historically recorded as dying and receive orders from the future to carry out large and small tasks that are designed to help humanity’s development. But history is not necessarily easy to change. Will the Travelers succeed at forging a new path for humankind? Or will they discover that all of their efforts are in vain and that human destiny can’t (or shouldn’t) be changed?
Normally, I would review each season of a multi-season show, individually. However, with Travelers (2016-2018), there’s not much fundamental difference in quality between the show’s three seasons. And in a lot of ways, that’s a good thing. Travelers feels very much like a “Netflix algorithm” show (such as the lackluster first season of “Another Life”). Don’t get me wrong, Travelers is far superior to “Another Life” in nearly every way: it has decent writing (especially for having a plot that revolves around time-travel), relatively strong performances, and some truly heartfelt moments that help to create an emotional connection with the show and its various characters. But there’s a cliffhanger-y quality to Travelers that, despite making the show wonderfully bingeable, also can make it feel as if the show uses cheap tricks to foster a sense of addiction. I can live with that, but it’s not exactly a desirable trait.
There are two aspects of Travelers that are more problematic for me. For starters, despite being fairly well-written from a character development standpoint, from a time-travel consistency point of view, Travelers is often lacking. I still maintain that the only show or movie that I’ve seen do time-travel well on a consistent basis is “Future Man”. The issue is that for time-travel (and especially for changes to timelines) to make sense, they have to be extremely well thought out ahead of time. Travelers too often gives the impression that it is making up rules and consequences on the fly. That may not bother some people, but it annoys the hell out of me.
An even bigger issue is that the main team sent back from the future to make changes to the past is often completely unprofessional and incompetent. In reality, sending such unqualified people on missions of such import would insane. The fact that their fundamental incompetence is used to drive such large parts of the story is nearly infuriating and detracts from what is otherwise a pretty good show. If your plot movement relies primarily on the near-constant ineptitude of what is supposed to be a highly-trained team of professionals, that’s a problem.
Overall, Travelers has more positive than negative aspects, but the things about it that bother me hit all of my particular sci-fi pet peeves. My enjoyment of the show basically required me to not think about the show while watching it. But since I did enjoy Travelers for the most part, I am going to recommend it. The characters and character development in the show are strong enough to offset my issues with the plot construction and evolution. If you’re looking for a time-travel focused sci-fi show to binge watch, you can do much worse than spending your time on this one.
Approx. Episode Length: 45 Minutes
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.