Following on the heels of the successful Canada import Lost Girl, the Vancouver based sci-fi series Continuum premiered this year on the Syfy Channel in the U.S. and it easily earns the status of best new TV series of 2013. Like Lost Girl, the first season has already aired in Canada, and is being shown one season behind here, hopefully to catch up in the U.S. market later this year. The series has already been renewed in Canada, and Season 2 is being filmed on location in Vancouver, B.C. Tonight, episode four airs at 7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern on the Syfy Channel. You’ll want to set up your DVR for this series and if you’ve missed episodes 1-3 you can still catch them on primetime Free Per View.
Continuum stars Star Trek 2009, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Conan the Barbarian’s Rachel Nichols as a British Columbia cop from the year 2077 named Kiera Cameron who gets transported back in time to 2012 where she tracks down a group of rebel terrorists who have come to the past with her. The terrorists, who go by the name Liber8, were sentenced to death and at their execution someone smuggled in a device that created a warp field that spun the convicts back in time and sucked in security officer Cameron. Like her cool and tough performance as Scarlet in the first G.I. Joe movie, Nichols is perfect as a no-nonsense cop, quick to act in a gunfight and several other situations she never could have trained for.
The producers of Continuum have created the most seemingly realistic future technology here along with a creepy possible future political structure where corporations have bailed out the defaulting government and eventually taken over all its functions, taking away individual liberties from citizens. The police force Cameron works for is in protection of this new world order, and the great twist of Continuum is having the terrorists’ ideal be a return to our political structure today. Continuum is the series many hoped the Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica would be, but in only three episodes Continuum has already surpassed that other Syfy Channel series in production quality and story.
Cameron luckily and appropriately dons her full 2077 police gear in 2012, gear which survived intact in the transport back in time. Basically a body suit to passersby, it actually has wonderful built-in devices that would leave both RoboCop and James Bond in the dust. In an Episode 2 flashback Cameron is given two items: a multi-purpose tool and a spectacular hand weapon that reaches its full form only upon use, somewhat like what the weapons in Star Trek 2009 were only hoping to achieve, a quick-change bit of gadgetry like the armor on the 1989 Batmobile, but much more dazzling to the eye. Her arms have built-in access screens that allow her to adapt to her environment in numerous ways. Her uniform, gold-colored and body-conforming, can itself change its appearance, and even render her invisible to unassuming criminals. It is the ultimate progression of Boba Fett’s Mandalorian armor, only very unassuming, particularly to citizens of 2012.
But the uniform is only part of her technology. In the future the police have their own integrated borg circuitry, including a recording device planted in the skull which records up to 36 hours of video, sound and smells, usable so courts no longer need to rely on human memory. In fact in Cameron’s first academy discussion a superior officer advises her no matter what not to rely on her instincts (advice normally given in police procedural or sci-fi stories for the hero or heroine), but instead “trust the tech”. Nuances like this make the viewing audience wonder whether Cameron’s future world is such a great world to protect. The camera for her internal recorder is actually part of her retinas, and along with sound recording it allows her to access help of a different variety. Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen) one day will invent great technologies, and be played on Continuum by The X-Files’s Smoking Man (William B. Davis). But in 2012 Cameron’s technology disrupts Alec’s experiments and quickly the teen-or-twenty-something, eager, optimistic geek soon becomes uber-handler for Cameron as she must adapt to our world. The actors’ chemistry as a team clicked instantly, despite having no scenes where the actors physically appear together. The inner-voice handler is something used in a lot of science fiction writing, and Continuum finally shows us that it can work on the screen, too.
The dialogue is smart and creative and funny when it needs to be. Add to that a Vancouver cop that Cameron must work with (Victor Webster as Carlos Fonnegra) who also is level-headed–with no signs of the typical bumbling cop or illogical choices common on TV–and you have the basis for an intriguing and exciting new sci-fi show. And keep an eye out for Brian Markinson as Inspector Dillon, fresh off his recent performances on the CW Network’s Arrow and Supernatural.
In concept genre fans will find some familiar territory here, yet all done in a new way. So look to find bits of Arnold returning to hunt down and save Sarah Connor in the Terminator films, Spock’s return to the past in Star Trek 2009, as well as movies made from Philip K. Dick stories, such as The Adjustment Bureau. Will the time travellers forever modify this alternate timeline? Even more parallels can be found in the BBC Life on Mars sequel TV series Ashes to Ashes. In Ashes to Ashes, a British cop named Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) is transported from 2008 back more than 25 years to the 1980s where she must try to return to the future to get back to her child and career. In the meantime she assumes the role of cop in an earlier incarnation of her squad in the past. In Continuum Cameron follows a similar path. Ashes to Ashes was one of the most exciting TV shows ever produced, and proved that there is an infinite number of possible places to take this kind of story. We’re glad that Canada realized this last summer by signing the series for its second season, and only hope Continuum keeps up the momentum.
Again, if you missed Episodes 1-3 check out your cable provider for Free Per View options or download episodes from Amazon.com here. You’ll want to dig into it before you watch tonight’s episode “Matter of Time”–and yes, all the episodes have time-centric names, so far “A Stitch in Time” giving us the setting for the series, “Fast Times” in which the concept of being stuck in the past is cemented as the terrorists blow an opportunity to teleport back to the future, and “Wasting Time” in which the terrorists begin killing civilians to gain pituitary hormones needed to save one of their own.