Interview: ‘Frequency’ Showrunner Jeremy Carver on the Rules of Time Travel and Expanding on the Movie
Posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 by Fred Topel
At Comic-Con, we spoke with Jeremy Carver, the creator of The CW’s Frequency TV series, about gender-swapping the 2000 movie to make the show a father/daughter story. When Carver attended a Television Critics Association party over the summer, we got to go further into the nuts and bolts of the series with him.
The pilot establishes a similar story to the movie. 2016 cop Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List) speaks with her father Frank (Riley Smith), who died in 1996, over a ham radio. She prevents his death but that leads to other unintended consequences. We spoke with Carver about how Frequency moves forward week to week.
Is the idea that the ham radio connection happened because of some sort of weather phenomenon?
Not quite as clear cut as that. There’s a suggestion of that but that might not ultimately be the answer.
Is part of the mythology of the show that you’re going to explore why this happened too?
Maybe not at first but yes, we do explore. We do ask those questions.
Have you developed a mythology for Frequency beyond what was explicit in the movie?
Yes. I don’t mean to be coy. I don’t want to overload people with rules of the universe, too many rules at the beginning. I think the pilot works very nicely on an emotional level that you go for the ride and you sort of instinctively understand what’s happening in terms of the different time periods and the rules. That’s the same sort of momentum we’re trying to carry in the series. The rules are there but they’re not really meant to be seen if that makes sense. We want people concentrating on the drama of everything and entrusting that the rules are there and everything has a purpose and a reason.
That’s the danger of having too detailed a mythology, that the show becomes about that. It sounds like you’re being careful not to make the show about that.
That’s exactly right. Again, I’m happy and I think the pilot succeeded on that level. I think it’s very important that people come for the characters, come for the mystery, and trust that the rules are in place. As a rule is encountered or discovered by our main characters, so will it be by our audience.
When the time comes to reveal the cause, do you look at actual science like Carl Sagan or Stephen Hawking, or make something up?
There are elements of both but we absolutely are leaning into science. I don’t know about proven science but discussed science.
As much as time travel has never been proven.
Is Raimy’s fiancé out of the picture for now?
Making him part of the picture is very much in her mind moving forward. The losing of the fiancé is another loss suffered by her that she’s determined to right in the coming episodes.
Is Raimy talking to her younger self dangerous?
Who knows what, when, is one of the major things that our two characters confront head on right in the opening episodes. Who can know about this? Who can we really talk to? How far can we really go with other people who aren’t us to avoid just what you’re suggesting, a danger of something bigger happening beyond their control?