YouTube Premium recently dropped the first season of its newest series, Impulse, a Jumper sequel of sorts that brings back filmmaker Doug Liman to the world of teleporting superpowers and global conspiracies. The series stands in stark contrast from the high-concept summer blockbuster of 2008, as it operates more as a moody teen drama, a crime story, and a poignant survivor’s tale. There’s still a big world full of teleporting individuals and the mysterious group trying to wipe them out, but, on the whole, the new series is far more grounded than what was seen in Liman’s previous film.
In other words, Impulse aims to expand on some of the ideas that it shares with Jumper, while also acting as an engaging drama in its own right. That’s part of what attracted Liman to the project: the chance to explore a wider range of character experiences while still delivering a high-concept, science fiction experience.
In a recent interview with Screen Rant, Liman discussed what drew him to the world of streaming television, and how longform storytelling afforded him and opportunity deliver with Impulse what he feels he didn’t “live up to” with Jumper. For the filmmaker, a compelling story came first, teleportation was second.
“I'm interested in stories where there's big ideas happening in grounded places and to real people. Going back to Bourne Identity, when I started doing high-concept movies was, at certain time action movies were like porno films where they were like action sequences strung together with rudimentary dialogue. And if you just made a movie from the dialogue it would be unwatchable. And Bourne Identity, if you take the action sequences out, it's still a good story. I wanted to do something with Impulse where, even if you didn't have teleportation it would still be a compelling story in a compelling word. I feel like I didn't live up to that idea with Jumper.
I do believe that the long form of television allows [me] to explore the very things I wasn't able to do in the movie and to do something that's much more character driven and push in different directions that are unexpected. And that's the kind of thing that in a movie you can’t always do, but that in a TV series you can explore.”
Part of what Liman is eager to explore with season 1 of Impulse is the reaction of other characters to the unique powers the series' protagonist, Henry (Maddie Hasson), develops. “It is always more interesting to me that people don't care about Henry's ability to teleport,” Liman said. “That keeps it about more than teleportation.”
That raises a question about what the show’s plans are beyond season 1, and where the story of Henry Cole could be headed. Liman is particularly interested in expanding the world of the show beyond the confines of the sleepy New York town in which much of the first season takes place. He also said that we’ll be getting some answers to the question of who Henry’s father is.
“One of the things we want is to start painting the bigger world. We're going to play out in a bigger world than [in season 1]. So I wanted to raise these issues and offer hints with her father. You know [Henry’s] got serious family issues and they're going to get worse. When we we start to involve her father in her life in season 2.”
Impulse season 1 is available to stream on YouTube Premium.