2

Television Review: First Impressions of Continuum

Welcome to time travel via magic orange slice geode.

Starring: Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster, and Erik Knudsen.

Not a bad first outing. The biggest flaw I can see is that it’s coming off a little too American despite being set in Vancouver.

Let’s start with some good news. Much to my relief, Continuum is not a rehash of Time Trax, or, thanks be to Gozer, Time Cop: The Series. If anything, Continuum offers a bit more of a Terminator vibe. The story beings in the year 2076 where North America is under the dominion of a congress of corporations who bailed out the world’s failing legitimate governments. The idea isn’t too farfetched if we look at Greece’s potential default and retreat from the Eurozone. In an attempt to restore liberty and democracy to North America, a group called Liber8 blows up the Corporate Congress Building. In the process they take out the CEOs of 20 major corporations and, in an image that evokes the World Trade Centre attack, 20,000 civilians.

Fast forward six months and Kira (Rachel Nichols), the series’ future cop, is presiding over the execution of the eight convicted ringleaders of Liber8. Instead of dying, these leaders use some orange slice/geode/magic time travel rock to zap themselves, and Kira, back to 2012.

There’s some stranger in a strange land action before Kira’s attempt to call for backup on her Brainpal brain implanted computer communications system connects with Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen), a teenager who is building a top secret crypto-communication system in his parents’ barn. It’s also implied that his parents are part of some radical anti-corporate conspiracy group, but that’s a story for a future episode.

Kira connects with contemporary detective Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster) as she attempts to track down the eight fugitives from the future. Posing as a detective from Portland, she warns Fonnegra, and his excitable Inspector, that the future criminals are part of a dangerous gang that is attempting to install itself in Canada. Unfortunately, her warnings come too late. The fugitives attack police patrols to acquire weapons before breaking into banks, and eventually attacking a VPD station to free one of their captive colleagues. After that, there’s some gunplay followed by Kira coming to terms with the fact that she can not return to the future.

Verdict: Not awful, not outstanding.

I’m reluctant to get too critical of the series after only watching a single episode. For now I’ll say that there are a few things that should get fixed, and a few other things that worked quite well.

On the positive side, there is some clever symbolism planted in the background of various scenes. Toward the end of the episode Kira stands before a building with a statue of an upright infinity symbol in the courtyard. The scene then shifts forward (or backward depending on how you want to look at things) to the 2070s where Kira is meeting her husband’s boss. Big surprise, it’s an older version of Erik Kundsen’s character (played by the sublime William B. Davis). Therein, the aforementioned infinity statue has crumbled but remains recognizable. So is this a memory of Kira’s from the future, or is it a glimpse into an alternate timeline? Or am I reading too much into an innocuous set piece?

Clever as the visual cues may be, the Point Break inspired gunplay is fucking laughable. When the future fugitives raid a police patrol car for weapons, they produce M-16s and MP5s from the cruiser’s trunk. I don’t know how they roll in Vancouver, but my sources in the Toronto PD tell me that standard beat cops keep shotguns in the trunk, not military grade kit. Subsequent gun battles, which prove that each and every character in this series is a graduate of the COBRA School of Marksmanship, appear as little more than an attempt to pander to broader, that is to say American, audiences.

As for the series central conflict, I’m torn. Kira is a “protector” of the future corporate state. Said state offers stability at the price of liberty. In 2077, Liber8 appears as a group of oppressed freedom fighters attempting to restore democracy to a world gone wrong. Said noble veneer is lost in time travel. In the past the fugitives are a gang of misfits lacking impulse control; they are the sort of folk who revel in carnage for its own sake. Where the first half of the episode had me expecting ambiguity and grey areas, the second half delivered clear binaries of righteousness and evil. Perhaps things will get more complex as the plot progresses.

Even if summer television is a bad burlesque of mediocrity, I get the sense that there is something of substance to Continuum. If it can steer clear of simple good versus bad dialogues, it might have a chance of being something clever. At its worst, it will be a time travel buddy cop show with sexual tension.