In Which The Bird Flies As Long As It Must

Migration Pelagica

by DAN CARVILLE

for Lawrence Durrell

You put it all together: the glimpse of white, the farcical pardon, the Sunday caress. I was the author of all these motions, and so you hate me for it? Do you even know I’m alive?

Lake Michigan stretches out like a forest. Hiking is just another way of answering, locomotion an alternate method of standing. What I gave to you was a lot better than that, and I’d like very much to hear you admit it.

What a mess I am these days. A car comes for me and takes me to a place that should seem familiar. The girls around me debraid their hair. Gallinules always desire a place to go, never an environment to reside.

More fortunate than good, a desert cisticola, a warbler, a gull. A falcon in the right light resembles paved cement. You could look at something so close that the larger structure is obscured; now is that what you did?

You should probably answer me if you value your emotional life. A murder of fantoccinis, marbled into fine tire and sanded down by our feet. The car takes me to an open room. The ceilings loom massively, they swoop and descend on prey. Nothing wrong with talons so powerful. A grip can tighten without even knowing what is held.

Here is what really happened, if you care, if you are not reading this out of spite. You left the room. You had given me a kind of reward for doing something you thought was objectionable. It doesn’t make me cynical that I assume the worst, it only makes me tired.

After you left I could not think of anything but completing what was begun, all over your mother’s sheets. A man in August is just a figure redrawn on paper. By January should he still be a sketch?

Writing is not the best way to tell anything. Speech doesn’t mean much either. Remember I caught a glimpse of you in a parapet, no ceilings, all sky. Allow that thought to pervade your mind at odd times, like when you are at the hair salon or the dentist, or when you smell something off in the refrigerator.

When posed a question, answering is merely polite. I was asked, do you think there is any way she had met someone else? I said I was not sure, but tried to explain. I said swans mate for life, although they will try to find another if the original dies. Perhaps in a hunting accident? We never know exactly how we will go, Justine.

Subsequent to the high-ceiling room, I arrive at a further destination. Your apartment has cockroaches and we all know why. Riverside Park genuinely shimmers, and I brought Silly Putty, which you can make any shape and it won’t resist.

A mold is an underappreciated aspect of modernity. Whatever the impression. Could we all be molds for something larger or greater? What do you think? Am I perhaps onto something there, or is that the kind of vacuous statement your new boyfriend might make?

Anger. We talked about this once. The first time rage enters the countenance is so shocking. I try to never display this aspect of myself, but this gives off a mistaken impression, Justine.

It is on the whole more efficient to parse out the disappointment in drips and drops. Each might feasibly be wiped off the floor, but the splash a pot of tomato sauce would create makes me walk away. I want to be with someone who never minds cleaning up, you see, not you.

Here are some more potential aspects of the new woman in my life. Whenever she is self-effacing, the minor joke gives over to a broader compliment of sorts. She cares for animals. It is not that she herself rides a scooter, but if one were around, she would give it a shot to see how fast she would go. In the car afterwards, she reads, “A few trees still stand in a brand-new landscape, but the sea road is impassable.” She wriggles and leaps to catch her orphaned breath. How I wish you were here.

A series of rooms, all given over to divergent purpose. Occlusion is one, introspection another. My new wife will heartily believe that the way I delineate place for myself is more than an affectation, it is more of a solid coping mechanism. I looked for a ring for you, but I never found anything quite right. I did feel well being in your arms.

Observed from that vantage, sunset rendered opaque, I retract all my goodbyes. Your arrival would begin with the alteration of all my most prized, substantial pants. The first phase is a getting to know you, and the last is like copying data to a drive. Only we operate at different speeds, I know that. Deceleration is not a particular strong suit; it is productive to know our own weaknesses. Any relocation, whether it is only temporary or a consummate replenishment, relies on the endurance of time. The only one of us who was flighty was you, and I mean that in every conceivable sense. I did have a girlfriend, and this was a long time ago, far enough from now that it would feel impudent to mention her by name or Myers-Briggs, who found my diary. She said that some things in it were awful. I said, how was the rest?

Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

Paintings by Sebastian Blanck.


In Which Kierkegaard Ascends To Heaven

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How to Behave

The final diaries of Søren Kierkegaard occupy themselves primarily with an extended discussion of faith. Søren viewed most things through the lens of Christ, usually disdaining the paltry efforts of organized religion to represent the god he felt inside of him. Over his lifetime, he composed over 7,000 pages of journals on this and various other topics. His extended thoughts on his own belief may interest believers and non-believers alike, but he was much pithier and less sacrosanct about other aspects of his life.

A serious misogynist, Kierkegaard had largely abandoned relationships with women near the end of his life. It had gone wrong once, and he refused to let it happen again. The highly edited extracts below from his last years on earth display modesty as a form of arrogance, ascended to highest ideal.

It is commonly thought that it is cowardice to flee from the world and enter a monastery.

Now perhaps it is sometimes the case that such a man doubts whether he can endure the bestial laughter and ridicule, the persecution and maltreatment which may result from his having to express the ‘spirit’ in the midst of animal creatures.

But the matter can be regarded from another side. Such a man flees because he does not have the heart to upset the others, of whom he knows very well that he will never entirely win them to his view, and so he will only be a torment to them. Would you not much prefer to be rid of a man who speaks only of one thing, of dying, of dying to the world?

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My task is so new that in Christianity’s eighteen hundred years there is literally not one from whom I can learn how to behave.

When I die, there will be something for the professors! These wretched rascals! And it does not help, it does not help in the least, even if it is printed and read over again. The professors will still make a profit of me, and they will lecture away, perhaps with the additional remark that the peculiarity of this man is that he cannot be lectured about.

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If I were a father and had a daughter who was seduced, I should by no means give her up; but if I had a son who became a journalist I should regard him as lost.

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Evil is always more horrible the longer it lasts. Cannibals kill a man and eat him – and that is that. It lasts only a short time and when it is over, there is as it were a hope – till the next time – that the cannibal become a different man, might become better. But the priest and the professor make their preparations (with cold calculation) once for all to live on the sufferings of those saints. They get married on the strength of them, they beget children, they organize an idyllic and thoroughly enjoyable life. They live on the torment of the saints.

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Is moral philosophy not, like astrology and alchemy, a science which has to do with something which does not exist?

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Everyone who has a little experience knows at heart that this is a rotten world. But just as it is the done thing in a prison to keep a stiff upper lip, as it is also regarded as the cleverest thing to do, and to pretend one is having a good time, and as it is in consequence the custom in prisons to tease and torment the man who lets it be seen he is suffering, so with the whole world or with mankind in the world. In general, anyone who wants to understand human life as the whole would do best to study the criminal world – this is the really reliable analogy.

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Surely not even my bitterest enemy would deny that I shall acquire a certain renown. But I am beginning to wonder whether I will not become renowned in a quite different sphere than I have hitherto imagined – namely, as a naturalist. For I have discovered, or at least made a very significant contribution to the natural history of parasites, I mean priests and professors, those voracious and prolific parasites, who even have the effrontery (unlike other parasites) to try and pass themselves off as the friends and disciples of those whose sufferings they live on.

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What a woman is most afraid of, where she feels that her being and her power are annihilated, is when she has risked the utmost in seduction, and it ends with the laughter of her opponent. And strangely enough, wherever they get it from – presumably from instinct – women seem to suspect that so far as I am concerned, just when they make the greatest efforts I would burst out laughing – and no woman will risk this at any price.

Alas, there is some truth in this, that it could end with my bursting out laughing. But the reason is neither my great virtue nor my great spirituality but – my melancholy.

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The daily press is properly calculated to make personality impossible. For it has the effect of an immense abstraction, the generation, which has infinite power over the single person. It is a means which was unknown in former times. For in former times the battle between a personality and the abstract was not so immensely disproportionate as now, when an individual who is impersonal and scoundrelly can use this fearful weapon against the single person.

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Most men do not have enough self-esteem to be able to assert themselves in the face of other men, so their self-esteem demands that they have some people who obey them absolutely, whom they have entirely in their power, so that they also feel that they are the man and the master. These people are children. God pity what takes place in family life! What brutality and what egoism are hidden there. Is is unfortunately only too certain that the parents usually need more upbringing than the children.

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When his mother is cursing him, Richard III, in order not to hear her curses, turns to the drummers and says, “Strike up the drum.” Is it not so with us all? There is something in us we do not want to hear.

1854

Paintings by Richard Aldrich.

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In Which We Hand The Bite That Fed Us

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hi,

I have an old friend named Carina who I have stuck with through thick and thin. Carina’s been through some tough times in her life and I’m really proud of the person she has become.

With that said, I feel like recently Carina has been making some decisions I find concerning. She has met a guy and within a few months she feel like they are going to be together for the rest of their lives. I haven’t even met him yet but I know that if I don’t support her she is going to be crushed. They are already living together.

How should I handle this?

Jamie I.

Dear Jamie,

Some people don’t mind when those they care about make mistakes, because they recognize that every one of us is capable of making one. It’s not like I have never heard of two people who knew they wanted to be together really quickly working out; it is just that this kind of arrangement has an absolutely terrible success rate.

At some point, it is key to determine which you value more — Carina’s continued friendship, which will presumably exist regardless of how deep down the rabbit hole she goes, or doing what you feel is right. We can’t protect those we love completely, so say what you feel and drop it after that. This gives you the best chance of preserving your feelings for this woman.

Hi,

The amount of time my girlfriend Harper spends with her friends is truly astonishing. It is like she is in a cult — they plan constant outings, talk on the phone every night, and their world revolves around each other. I have never quite seen anything like this. On some level I am probably jealous of Harper paying attention to other people besides me. It isn’t really the time it takes away from our relationship that is the issue, but maybe I’m just sick of these other relationships? What can I do about this, if anything? I love Harper and the feeling is mutual.

Brent D.

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Dear Brent,

Wanting to change the people we love is the only valid use of the slippery slope argument. If you want to spend more time with your girlfriend, do it. She likely will not say no. If it conflicts with the attention that she pays to her friends, complain. But a general band-aid on this situation is not impossible without destroying your relationship. The only thing you can do is slowly arc her towards you over time by offering superior experiences. People do not have just one life.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

In Which Brit Marling Died More Times Than We Can Count

Time to Go Online

by ELEANOR MORROW 

The OA
creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij
Netflix

Sometimes you really just need to get on the internet. Once there, you can safely check Drudge and maybe see what’s in your e-mail. Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling) sounds like a euphemism for something terrible, but instead it’s just the name of a woman with a similar feeling. Ms. Johnson prefers to be called The OA, which means Original Angel. After the OA returns to American life after seven years imprisoned in an abandoned mine, she just needs to get some wifi, so she gets in touch with Steve (Patrick Gibson). He gives her a mobile router in exchange for help in preventing his father from shipping him to a military academy.

Marling and collaborator Zal Batmanglij have been on the internet a lot in preparation for this eight episode Netflix series, which feels like the prodigious and exciting dramatic efforts of a newborn baby reaching out. Like their feature film Sound of My Voice, The OA has a somewhat different pacing than what we are used to from traditional movies and television, resembling more of a youtube video than a traditional dramatic series. This slight shift is liberating at a time when the inclination seem to over-explain in order to justify the expense of locations, budgets and actors.

Marling herself holds this diverse cast together. She is an exceedingly subtle performer. There is one brief scene where she is just curling up on a blanket that I think about a lot; she is in the first throes of being a person and she is literally deciding which way to turn. The teen actors Marling has cast around are just as talented, and their story in the present is as compelling as the tale of incarceration that the OA tells them at length. “You have to pretend to trust me until you actually do,” the OA explains to them. “Before you close your eyes, I want you to imagine everything I tell you as if you are there yourself, as if you are me.”

The OA describes a Moscow childhood, and we are not really sure if we are supposed to believe her or not. Even the series’ title sequence seems more like a cosmic joke than a plaintive representation of reality. Beauty in The OA comes completely unexpectedly, but it holds no particular or specific meaning. It is only the details of the story meant to convince her new friends. Moscow is not Moscow, it is merely images from a helicopter. A tale is only as credible as the people telling it.

For seven years the OA is imprisoned by a scientist named Hap (Jason Isaacs) in what resembles a massive human terrarium. There her fellow captors discover five movements that, properly aligned, intend to create a way to escape from their captivity. This core tragedy never engenders much sympathy, and as much of a monster as Hap is, he seems to be going about things for generally positive reasons. He doesn’t overly mistreat his captives, and even after he drowns them in a tank they always come back to life.

Isaacs himself is the worst performer in this entire milieu. I can understand why he keeps being cast as the prototypical middle-aged man, and here it maybe helps that he is so transparently not a scientist, since it gives a bizarre illegitimacy to the story the OA is telling. Still, the present tense of the OA’s return to civilization is what really compels us, the “invisible life” of the four teenagers and one teacher (The Office‘s Phyllis Smith) who are drawn into her dark circle.

“Sometimes I just need to be alone,” the OA explains to her adoptive parents, Nancy (Alice Krige) and Abel (Scott Wilson). Their bracing care for her is one of many instances of inadequate love in The OA. Everyone here, it seems, loves someone who cannot fully receive their affection. It is not that they cannot express love themselves, it is that they can never be loved in the way that they imagine would make them completely happy.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

In Which Michael Shannon Cooks An Elaborate Dinner

The Projectors

by ETHAN PETERSON

Frank & Lola
dir. Matthew Ross
88 minutes

FRANKANDLOLA_1SHT-691x1024.jpgThere was a Times article a few years ago about the apartment Michael Shannon rented in Red Hook with his wife and daughter. It reminded me of that MTV Cribs episode that visited Redman’s home in Staten Island. Not because Shannon lived in any kind of squalor – just that the reporter found a lot more than she bargained for, and did not even know it. Shannon went on for a while about how much he hated claustrophic spaces, and compared himself to the main character in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy. He sounded like a very wild person.

Then again, Michael has the propensity to talk a lot – the actor’s bizarre rant against elderly Trump voters was relatively unsurprising. No two people could be more dissimilar than Michael Shannon and Donald Trump. The mercurially talented Shannon is a complete chameleon, whereas the president-elect can only ever be one thing.

Or maybe that is the wrong spirit animal. Recently, as he enters middle age, Shannon has started to look more and more feline. In Frank & Lola, the brilliant directorial debut from Brooklyn resident Matthew Ross, Shannon has no careful costume to obscure the fact that his head is a great deal larger than his torso, an aspect of all large cats. Even though he is not a very large man, Ross is the first director to insist that Shannon loom massively in the frame, like a smudge you cannot wipe off. As Frank, a Las Vegas-based chef, Shannon even throws in a New York accent.

Frank meets Lola (Imogen Poots) and in short order she has his name tattoed just above her waistline. He is intrigued at this level of devotion, but soon it seems like merely a lever on him. Shannon does not have much in the way of chemistry with Poots, but it is sort of the point that these two are not exactly right for each other. Sensing Frank’s underlying anger and self-hatred, Lola explains that she was raped by a European man she knew. Upon learning of this tale, Frank barely considers his girlfriend for the rest of the movie except in the context of being a victim.

Normally, this would make for a very dark turn, but Shannon is able to save us from that, too. Ross makes a point of deepening our understanding about Frank through knowledge of what he does for a living. Frank and Lola depicts the confusion some of us have with food: whether it should serve merely as basic nourishment or as a component of some cosmic reassurance depending on how thoroughly we enjoy making or consuming it.

As Frank cooks for people he barely likes or respects, Ross weaves a light allegory of writing for more well-known but less talented people than himself. It is sort of shocking how jaded Hollywood has made him at the tender age of forty, and the same is true of Mr. Shannon, who sometimes throws parties for his daughter Sylvia. She and her friends like to watch movies on the projector.

Frank & Lola was originally set in Brooklyn. This makes a lot more sense because both protagonists seem relatively alien to Las Vegas, and we never get a real sense of the city as a place to live in. (The only reason Ross moved the film west was financial.) Frank is way too innocent for Las Vegas, but his basic gullibility is just right for Brooklyn, where a tragic possessiveness is as natural as water. Ultimately I felt Poots was the weak link here, mainly through no fault of her own. In one key scene she appears entirely in reflection, and we get a basic sense of how slight she is. Her meandering, mealy-mouthed way of speaking is right at home in other roles, but it is hard to imagine Frank being captured by it: he craves refinement, both stylistic and physical.

Cannily, Ross displays Poots topless in the first scene of Frank & Lola, as if to give us a basic functioning reason for Frank’s desire. He refuses to penetrate her on a first date, so they settle on cunnilingus. She asks him, while he has his mouth on her, to hold her down, and he cannot help but crack some kind of joke about this. The moment quickly gives over to pleasure, and this elasticity of feeling is devastating.

Frank takes a number of trips to Paris where he meets up with Lola’s rapist. Ross plays these scenes very carefully, relying on the possibility of violence and rage versus the presence of either. It would be easy and therapeutic to watch Frank enact vengeance, but Ross is telling a much more sensitive story. Denying us catharsis is so risky, especially in a debut, but Ross’ devotion to how he sees these characters approaches the devout. He wants to know exactly how they do a thing at the moment they are called to do it.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.


In Which We Wake Up And Jennifer Lawrence Is Kinda There

The Sleeping Girl

by ELEANOR MORROW

Passengers
dir. Morten Tyldum
116 minutes

It is a very weird moment in Passengers when Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) walks by Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) in her hibernation pod. He has been woken up ninety years too soon on his generation starship, and he is looking for some feminine companionship. The only place he can go for advice is the ship’s bar, where an android played by Sarah Silverman’s boyfriend tells him not to wake her from hibernation. Jim is so sexually frustrated by Aurora’s unavailability that he takes out his anger on a boxing bag. “She’s the perfect woman,” he whines to no one in particular, even though he has never met her.

Well, Aurora is not the perfect woman, not by a long shot. Jim finds various videotapes of her recorded by the company previous to her interstellar journey that make it clear she is a pretentious twerp. He is still fixated on this one birthmark on her neck and he ends her hibernation anyway, a move so incredibly selfish that is impossibly to like or even respect his character. But then, the more you learn about Chris Pratt, the more impossible it is is like or respect him, too.

Lawrence looks relatively emaciated for the role, but director Morten Tyldum goes to great pains to make her appear very soft. She wakes up with complete makeup, including eyeshadow and immediately has a panic attack that the two of them are alone together. I guess she is afraid of what will happen?

She tells Jim that she can’t imagine being completely alone for a year, like this is the dirt-worst nightmare that could befall anyone ever. The room he lives in has a basketball court, couldn’t he like work on his jump shot and read Elena Ferrante books? That would have taken until approximately June, and he could have ruined a woman’s life after that.

Even though there’s a bunch of hibernation pods around that could probably be used to go back to sleep, I guess a part of Jim doesn’t really want to, given that he has unlimited alcohol, food and Jennifer Lawrence. The two of them put a serious focus on breaking into the command deck, although it is somewhat unclear as to what they could accomplish there. Eventually they notice that the ship’s automation seems somewhat awry, which should have tipped them off to preserving food and reproducing. The two have a warped, semi-passionate sex scene, not halfway as erotic as it is seeing Jennifer Lawrence in a full-body white swimsuit.

With nothing else to distract her, Aurora focuses in on her traveling mate. She asks him questions like she is a combination between Studs Terkel and Jane Pauley. One night she gets dressed up for him and he’s like, “Wow.” She tells him that he cleans up pretty good as well and they pretend to go on this weird date where it is not completely clear whether or not Jim plans to drug this woman. Aurora has applied an astonishing amount of makeup by this point, like gobs of it.

Now that these two are a couple they try having “spontaneous” sex around the ship and running (?). At this point Passengers slows to a glacial, disgusting crawl. Let me attempt to describe the kind of chemistry Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have together. It is like when you have a friend who is a very complicated woman, and she meets a man who gets her. Then one time you’re out with both of them at a restaurant, and while Jennifer Lawrence is in the bathroom, Chris Pratt tells you that he’s on Reddit.

In a very emotional scene, Aurora finds out that Jim woke her up from hibernation, and by this point we sort of hope she murders him and bags his body. Instead she throws a vase and sobs.

The ship breaks down completely after that, and these two twits haven’t saved any food whatsoever. Fortunately, Laurence Fishburne wakes up and the entire rest of the plot is forgotten about in short order. Even though Fishburne is the only one who has any idea what is going on, Aurora is immediately combative with him and the only thing she can think of is to tell him how upset she is that the breakfast bar is malfunctioning.

“It’s murder,” Aurora tells Laurence Fishburne about her predicament, and he gives her a folksy metaphorical, semi-racist way to come to terms with the situation. Shortly thereafter he dies. While the one-sheet for Passengers, promises “there is a reason they woke up,” it turns out there is not really a reason whatsoever, and Aurora figures out how to love her murderer. Maybe she’ll start doing feminist movies next year.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.


In Which We Escape Back From The Future

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Will’s Face

by DICK CHENEY

Travelers
creator Brad Wright
Netflix

screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-10-27-48-amIn the United States, Will & Grace was just a show about a woman who had decided it was more important to have a man around than to have a man who could return her love. It was an incredibly mean-spirited situation on both of their parts. In Canada, however, Will Truman was a sensation that instructed all of the people of that great nation that a gay could be acceptable to their sensibilities if he wasn’t actually portrayed by anyone gay or American: namely Canadian actor Eric McCormack.

Despite his run on one of the most successful and educational comedies on a major network, McCormack was banished to a basic cable wasteland after casting directors heard his off-set accent. In addition, he has a disconcerting mole on the right side of his face that he should probably get checked out. Stargate SG-1 creator Brad Wright has parlayed Hollywood’s loss into his own gain.

Netflix’s Travelers stars McCormack as a man from the future who inhabits the body of FBI agent Grant McLaren. Set in the Pacific Northwest, the show makes great pains to suggest that all of this could potentially be happening in Canada and never exactly nailing down any of its locations. McLaren has no kids to complicate matters, but he does have a wife (Leah Cairns) who is slowly noticing her husband suddenly does not eat meat or have intercourse with her.

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The Canadian vision of the future is quite bleak. We only get hints of it, but starvation looms large, everyone has Holocaust-esque tattooing and has returned to their natural hair color. In order to avoid this situation entirely, McLaren and four other randoms (a heroin addict, a single mother, a high school quarterback and a developmentally disabled woman) have their bodies similarly possessed before the moment of their natural passing.

Try not to think too hard about this premise. Instead of simply taking over the body of one very powerful person, the time travelers just become basics who are immediately out of place in the unforgiving world that surrounds them. Since the Canadian prime minister has no way of stopping a dangerous asteroid headed for the Earth’s surface, Wright has been forced to set these events in the U.S., where the team befriends a scientist (Kyra Zagorsky) who looks like an even older Olivia Munn.

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Even though they have inhabited completely new bodies, and some of the Travelers have even swapped races, the adjustment to their new lives is relatively seamless. At the FBI, McLaren misses a variety of meetings and even forgets the password on his computer, his partner Walt (Arnold Pinnock) suspects nothing. This situation we are in of naming black characters Walt has to stop, and this is not the only way that Travelers seems to be echoing its artistic progenitor, Lost.

You see, these castaways are stranded in new lives, where they try to forget about the island. I keep waiting for Matthew Fox to scream, “We have to go back!” and actually Fox would have been a welcome addition to this show. Spending most of every episode disappointed and upset with his new life does not suit McCormack’s strengths at all – he is a lot better when he has the funny lines as opposed to being the straight man, and he has no one to play off of here at all.

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Most of the comedy on Travelers comes from far away the best part of the show – the life of Traveler 0115, Trevor (Jared Abrahamson). Slipping in and out of his Canadian accent, Trevor immediately quits the football team and snitches on his girlfriend for bullying another student. His abusive father tells him not to worry about his grades and to focus on his football. Even though Trevor has a trained scientist inhabiting his body, he still has to complete his homework.

Also entertaining is Canadian actress and ingenue Mackenzie Porter’s romantic storyline where she leads on her love-sick social worker. There is just something warm and comforting about a man and a woman living together when only one of them wants to have sex with the other.

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The only one who gets to have sex on the show is Eric McCormack, who not only gets it in with his second-in-command Carly (Nesta Cooper), he also is forced to satisfy his wife. In these scenes McCormack makes all the requisite noises of passion, but you can see his heart is not really into it. He immediately turns around his romantic partners, facing them away from the disturbing mole which mars one side of his face. Entering from that angle, he could be fucking anyone.

Travelers feels like a show from the Will & Grace period. Everything is done on a considerable budget, and half the locations are a massive warehouse with high ceilings – at one point it was used to represent three different places in consecutive episodes. We are fortunate that Canada is filled with inexpensive acting talent, since the show’s gifted cast keeps Travelers from feeling entirely cheap. You can almost forget that none of this makes any sense.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

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