Sticking: Continuum

Posted on January 16, 2013

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For all that we self-identify as scifi fans, we watch proportionately little science fiction on television. So when SyFy (ugh, shudder) added a Canadian science fiction show to its Monday night line-up, we were willing to give it a try.

Normally, I give shows several episodes before I review, but several things in the first episode of Continuum struck me so strongly that I’m writing about it now.

We Watched It

Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is a police officer in Vancouver in 2077. In that future, the United States and Canada are one government run by a Corporate Congress. Apparently “the government” went bankrupt and corporations bought them out.

A group of terrorists is trying to overthrow the Corporate Congress and bring back democracy. Kiera Cameron is in on the big arrest. She goes to witness the execution of the terrorists and gets sucked in to their escape – a trip through time into pre-Corporate Vancouver.

Now she must hunt the terrorists to find her own way home, and to prevent them from changing her future into their vision of a democratic nation.

Sticking

Considering how the US government has bailed out the banks, the airlines, and the auto manufacturers over the last few decades, the whole set up for the future rubbed me raw. Then I realized that it was an alternate future, a worst-case scenario, and I became intrigued. I wanted to know what happened between now and then to change the course of history.

The revelation that the inventor of the primary technology of 2077 is someone that Kiera knew in her own time and is a teenager in this time intrigued me as well. Plus, the adult version is played by Richard B. Davis, who was “the cigarette-smoking man” in The X-Files. That the young Alec’s family seems to be some kind of militia group is also interesting. How do these things intertwine?

It’s also interesting to me that we want the terrorists to succeed, because they represent the forces of democracy. Yet, they are such extremists that we want there to be another way to save the future. We want, for example, Kiera to realize that democracy is better than corporate rule, and to work to change her future – even if it wipes out her timeline.

WTF

So, there are two WTF elements in Continuum for me.

First, there’s the whole issue of Kiera having a son. That’s such an obvious emotional manipulation technique that it ticked me off. Come on, writers. Work harder – or give your star credit for being able to hook us, to bring us into her character’s emotional life.

Second, there’s the “Gilligan’s Island” element of the storyline. I haven’t mentioned this in awhile, but many series concepts have this problem. On Gilligan’s Island, the show would end if the castaways ever got off the island, so you knew that was never going to happen.

Star Trek Voyager had the problem. If they ever got back to the Alpha Quadrant, the show was over.

Well, Continuum has the problem. Kiera can never get back to her time. They take a stab at dealing with this issue in the premiere, with Alec talking about theories of time and parallel universes.

Nonetheless, Kiera has to deal with the fact that she can never go home. Will she? How will the writers handle it? What will motivate her from that point on?

Thoughts?

Continuum was already a year old when it aired on US television. It has a year under its belt. We are playing catch-up with its Canadian audience. Some of the answers to my questions exist, so I plan to keep watching to see what they are.

It’s kind of like watching a series on DVD in marathon sessions. What shows have you watched that way?

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Posted in: television