Continuum: Season 1
Many film enthusiasts, particularly those inclined to inclusion in the science fiction fandom, have been look to our northern borders as a fresh, fertile ground for new entertainment. An increasing number of recent films and television series are being produced in Canada. This is not a trend that suddenly exploded in the entertainment industry; it has been carefully planned and executed by civil authorities and production companies with the best interest of their communities and the fans. Through tax incentive conducive to the production companies and towns willing to supply extras as well as permit their streets to be remade for any required exterior shots Canada has been an important venue for affordable movies and shows without sacrificing quality. It is no surprise their independent film community is thriving. One of the stateside venues that have made excellent use of this rich source of material is the SyFy Channel. Many of their original movies typically broadcast on Saturday night are made there as was the television series considered here, ‘Continuum’. The first season was release a while ago with the second head to disc soon and a third about to begin broadcasting. As is the case with many Canadian TV shows they tend to appear on the syndication oriented networks and are not afforded the level of marketing hype that the major networks can afford. But for those media prospector shifting through the online announcements ‘Continuum’ is a genuine nugget of gold.
To identify a starting point for this Sci-Fi series presents a little contextual technical difficulty. The location is set in Vancouver, BC but the year is at issue here. This is a premise based on the idea that in the relatively near future the ability to travel through time has been achieved. While the predominant number of events takes place in 2012, the initiating circumstances occurred 65 years in their future in 2077. Traditional governments have been supplanted by a corporate oligarchy where the consolidated North American Union under the control of the Corporate Congress. The civilian surveillance and militarization of law enforcement has culminated in the City Protective Services (CPS). With their ever present eye in the sky hovering drones and officers garbed in ultra-high technology body suits providing defensive, offensive and investigative function of incredible power each officer is ready for almost any contingency. Topping off the effectiveness are self-mutable weapons and a cybernetic interface to the computers in their suits and the centralized networks.
Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is a CPS protector who as a law abiding citizen is not overly affected by the dystopian aspect of the society she lives in. as a member of their enforcement forces Kiera can be considered but many to be part of the problem or at least a dup of the establishment. I haven’t used that phrase since the seventies, our seventies that is. In reality Kiera is just a young woman, mother and wife, doing a job she truly believes contributes to the general peace and welfare of the public she serves. Not everyone believes in the beneficent intentions of the overseeing corporate rulers. There are pockets of resistance to best organized and resourceful of which is called ‘Liber8’ with the cell concerned here led by Edouard Kagame (Tony Amendola). In 2076 the radical group executes an act of domestic violence by exploding a very powerful bomb in the headquarters of the Corporate Congress killing thousands. The members of the cell are captured, summarily tried and sentenced to execution by disintegration. One of the people in attendance is Alec Sadler (William Bruce Davis), technological genius and founder of a tech company largely responsible for the modern devices including those used by the CPS. Kiera is assigned as one of the agents present at the execution but at the last second before the lethal device is triggered a time portal supplied to Kagame by Sadler is activated propelling the Liber8 cell and Kiera back to 2012.
Fortunately, unlike the ‘Terminator’ franchise clothing is brought along so Kiera has her high tech, skin tight outfit on as she emerges in her past. Her communication device should be silent since the technology for it is more than half a century off but she hears the voice of an eighteen year old boy played by Erik Knudsen. It is soon disclosed that this young man is Adam Sadler; he will grow up to the man with the time travel device. By tapping into the AV circuits of Kiera’s CPS suit he is able to help her in her investigation of the Liber8 members in the past. His realization of his future and his role in creating the dystopian conditions is one of the strongest central themes of the series. In order to expedite her investigation Kiera poses as Detective Linda Williams from Portland PD, insinuating herself into the Vancouver Police department. There she is partnered with Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster).
Besides Kagame the members of Liber8 trapped in the past include bio-medical expert and ad-hoc second in command, Sonya Valentine (Lexa Doig), technology expert, Lucas Ingram (Omari Newton), who has an understanding of the time device, Strategist Jasmine Garza (Luvia Petersen) and enhanced super solider, Travis Verta (Roger Cross). There was a couple more necessary for general attrition as well as Matthew Kellog (Stephen Lobo) who had been the cell’s procurer who breaks away once in the past to use his knowledge of the future for extreme personal gain.
To its credit the series restricts bouncing between time periods to a minimum. Besides allowing for a stronger sense of continuity it permits the writers an incredible opportunity to elaborate on a staple of time travel plot points, the changing timer line. Most of what is witnessed by the audience of the future is restricted to expository information leading up to the bombing or establishing the nature of the future society. By not focusing on a point beyond the execution attempt it leaves the future uncertain.
The series is one of the most imaginative to come around in quite a long time. It certainly reinvigorates the time travel theme on television with some novel twists. Libr8 has the idea that they can initiate a grass root movement against corporate involvement in the government to avoid at least some of the circumstances that led to their dystopia. Then further reinforce potential change in the time line by targeting people and companies crucial to the future as they knew it. Working against is this is Kellog who recruits Adam into a high tech startup venture knowing full well his part in the future technology. Caught in the middle of this is Kiera who misses a husband and son not even born yet. This gives a unique vantage point of the dystopian enforcer. She isn’t a mindless zealot obeying orders; she is a working mother and wife whose job caught him up in the middle of world changing events. This series has amazing texture and nuance with potential still to be explored.