8:00am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
'Through the Wormhole' Preview: Morgan Freeman Talks Zombies, Cyber Warfare and Oceanic Destruction
Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole returns Wednesday with new episodes that explore whether poverty is genetic, if a zombie apocalypse is possible and whether oceans are able to "think."
Other topics this season -- which premieres at 10 p.m. on Science Channel -- include whether gravity is an illusion, when did time begin and if a shadow universe exists.
"We have a lot of interesting stuff coming," Freeman tells The Hollywood Reporter of the new episodes, noting that one episode that "grabbed my attention" in particular was the one titled "How to Collapse a Superpower" (airing June 11).
"We should no longer think in terms of F22s or F13s or aircraft carriers or fighting machines," Freeman says of terrorist warfare. "It will just take somebody with a strong mind and computer, and all they have to do is basically change the time. Think about that: If they changed the time by one or two seconds, it would throw everything into chaos."
James Younger -- executive vp at Revelations Entertainment, the production company Freeman founded with Lori McCreary in 1996, and also an executive producer on the series -- adds that it would affect flight schedules and communication systems: "Everything would fall apart."
He also poses a scenario in which someone could "infect" a person's pacemaker with a virus; say that person worked in the Pentagon, and when he or she walked through the security system, the virus would jump from that person to the computer system.
"This falls under the heading of science fantasy -- what can be -- and that's what this is," Freeman says. "In fact, somebody may already be working on it."
Given the pop culture craze of everything zombie, the episode "Is a Zombie Apocalypse Possible?" (June 25) is rather timely. But Freeman notes that the episode examines more than just zombies of the Walking Dead variety. For example, a fungus exists that can infect and essentially "control" ants by "making them climb to the highest point of a tree and latch onto a leaf. They just hold on and die," Freeman says.
But, he adds, we as a society may already be zombies in a sense, given how beholden we are to technology, such as our cell phones or GPS systems. "We don't have to think, and that's getting to be more and more the norm. So I'm going to ask you to ask yourself and your readers: What, in fact, is a zombie, and are we becoming it?"
Adds Younger: "Most of what we do anyway is completely unconscious -- 98 percent. If we're letting devices do more and more of that 2 percent, how much is left of our actual conscious actions?"
Asked how the producers come up with the topics, Freeman asks: "Don't you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a question? You may forget it the next day because you have no answer, but that's how we come up with it. What about this or what about that?"
Younger adds that the goal of the producers is to make the show "very in-depth but also accessible. People say, 'You made me think more deeply than before.' It's challenging and entertaining."
Asked if any topic has proved too challenging to tackle in an hourlong episode, Younger noted that it took three years to figure out how to do "Does the Ocean Think?" (June 18), which is not as far-fetched as it may sound.
"The ocean has been a big player in the history of the Earth," he says. "There are at least five times that we know of that the ocean has wiped out 99 percent of the species alive on the planet. Then we discovered this amazing story of how the ocean has its own nervous system and started wondering whether the ocean might be a thinking being."
"And how would humans fit into that?" Freeman asks. "If the oceans decided that we were its enemy, what would it do about it?"
For Freeman, Wormhole has been one of the most satisfying projects he's been a part of. He points out that people from 7 years old to 70 have approached him, saying they are fans of the series.
"I get as much pleasure out of meeting people who watch this show as anything," he says. "When anybody I cross paths with says they love this show, then it's a thrilling moment."
Through the Wormhole airs at 10 p.m. ET/PT Wednesdays on Science Channel. The complete schedule of new episodes is below:
"Is Poverty Genetic?" -- June 4
"How to Collapse a Superpower" -- June 11
"Does the Ocean Think?" -- June 18
"Is a Zombie Apocalypse Possible?" -- June 25
"Is Gravity an Illusion?" -- July 2
"When Did Time Begin?" -- July 9
"Is There a Shadow Universe?" -- July 16
"Will We Become God?" -- July 23
The Emmy-nominated Wormhole is produced by Revelations Entertainment, with Freeman, McCreary, Younger and Tracy Mercer serving as executive producers for the company.