Genre: SciFi Thriller
Watched: October 5-11, 2013
Summary: Solid sci-fi
Continuum is the second excellent Canadian SciFi television show I’ve found this year (the other being Orphan Black). The regular American networks just wouldn’t make something like this. In fact, they all passed on it. Their loss, because while it has a couple of flaws, as television goes, Continuum is first rate science fiction and imminently watchable.
Plot wise, we have a 2077 cop who while supervising the execution of the world’s worst terrorists, is propelled back in time to 2012 as part of their cunning escape plan — maybe.
The pilot does a first rate job of setting up the future and getting us quickly back in time . The details are hinted at rather than beaten over your head, which is good because the events leading to the time travel will be revisited numerous times in future episodes as we learn more and more about the players. The first few episodes seem almost procedural, with our heroine rapidly shifting herself into a cop role in 2012 — but this begins to shift right from the beginning to a more extended style of plotting. True, the always amusing fish out of water dynamic is underutilized (Kiera picks up 2012 like a pro), but the show really keeps the high level plot moving forward.
The show’s two biggest strengths are its big but tightly integrated cast and its complex mythology. The characters are interesting, and for the most part, not entirely formulaic. Alliances are always forming and shifting, without feeling forced. The terrorists are a varied bunch, with differing agendas, and the writers have deftly complemented their reprehensible methods with highly sympathetic political goals. In fact, this is a show with a substantial dose of moral ambiguity. The apparent behavior of the character is often at odds with their political agenda. The terrorists might be evil killers, but we agree with their points. Kiera might be our heroine, but at some level, her defense of the status quo can be called into question. Overall, the characters are interesting and not totally predictable.
At a political level, the take on 2077 is intriguing. This is a world where government has gone by the wayside and the corporations have risen to dominate the political and social landscape. Profit über alles. And given how things are now, this isn’t such an unreasonable trajectory. The future tech is for the most part pretty well done. We have a lot of slick touch screens, on nearly every kind of surface. For low budget television it looks pretty darn good, if a bit like modern buildings in Vancouver playing high tech dress up. I have a few specific tech nit picks, but they don’t detract from the watchability of the show.
- Alec is way too good about coming to grips with technology he is supposed to invent decades from now and has way too easy a time interfacing his 2012 prototypes with models from 2077. I know why the writers did it, but it’s unrealistic.
- Why the hell does Kiera have to use touch screens on her suit sleeve when she can control her CMR (internal cyber hud) just by thinking?
- The batteries on her stuff sure last a long time.
The mythology is quite excellent. Each episode is studded with flash forwards (usually from Kiera’s perspective) into 2077 and each time we get a bit more of the picture as to who all the players are and how they intertwine across both timelines. It’s, for the most part, sharply written and quite intriguing. Many of the 2012 folks are a bit at odds with who they become, not in the sense of character believability (which is pretty good) but with where we might expect them to go. This all makes it pretty fun.
The time travel is well handled. Two seasons in (and a third has been ordered) we’re not totally sure which end of the time travel spectrum we’re operating on, but the characters are asking the right questions, which makes it interesting. In one episode they try to eliminate each other by killing their grandparents — only to find it doesn’t work that way. So we know causality doesn’t loop (a.k.a. Back to the Future), but is this a fated timeline? Did original older Alec remember younger Kiera and engineer her return? I don’t think so, meaning we are dealing with two possibly disconnected timelines. As a time travel fan and author thinking about these questions made my day.
All in all, I watched it in a 3-4 episode a night binge and I was depressed when it was over. Good thing another season is on the way!