Continuum is a new Canadian sci-fi drama that premiered on Canada’s Showcase channel on May 27 this year.
Its compelling premise revolves around a policewoman from 2077, known as a Protector, Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) who enforces law and order in a world where democratically elected governments have ceded their mandate to rule to corporations in exchange for a financial bailout. With eerie intimations of where the current financial troubles in the Western World may lead us, the show presents a future that is breathtakingly glossy and trouble free, at least materially and technologically, but which, some feel, has forfeited its humanity for a financially safe world.
Some of those dissenters have formed themselves into a movement of freedom fighters called “Liber8”, who are fighting, violently, for the restoration of a free and just democratic society.
However, then as now, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist and the authorities in charge of a futuristic Vancouver in what’s called The North American Union see these objectors to the ruling order as nothing more than thugs who will stop at nothing to further their cause.
And to an extent they are right. “Liber8” conducts a series of morally suspect campaigns, which brings into sharp relief the enduring debate over whether the end ever justifies the mans, culminating in one event that has far reaching ramifications for both the organisation and the corporate government they are sworn to tear down.
Those responsible for what is deemed a terrorist act, and it is horrific in its scope are arrested and sentenced to death, and it is at their scheduled execution that the show kicks into high gear.
Sent into the execution chamber itself at the last minute, Keira is caught in an unexpected explosion, which sends the eight prisoners and herself as she rushes in to stop them (sensing too late that something is amiss), hurtling back in time. But instead of going back just six years as planned, they are catapulted back to 2012, and both Kiera and the prisoners are forced to adapt on the run to a wholly unexpected turn of events.
When Kiera finally realises what has happened, after a desperate pursuit through downtown Vancouver to apprehend one of the prisoners, she is overwhelmed by the overwhelming sense of loss and isolation that sweeps over she realises she may never see her beloved husband, Greg (John Reardon) or her son, again.
But help is at hand in the form of Alec Sadler, head of a corporation called Saotech in 2077, who is just a young man in 2012 and surprised that anyone is operating on his as yet experimental technology. Of course to Kiera, it is standard bread-and-butter technology and so at first she is suspicious of this person claiming to be the technology’s inventor.
But as the true weight of her current circumstances press down upon her, and she is pressed into a desperate battle to stop “Liber8” achieving their aim of altering the timeline, she forms an alliance of sorts with the Vancouver Police Dept and especially handsome detective, Carlos Fonnegra (Viktor Webster), to thwart the amoral objectives of “Liber8” and preserve the timeline so she has a home to return to.
Having heard almost nothing about this show, other than the fact that several Stargate alum would be in it, including the lovely Jennifer Spence (who played Dr Lisa Park on Stargate Universe), I watched episodes one and two with no expectations at all.
It’s unusual to approach a new show with so little expectational baggage and I revelled in simply assessing a show based purely on its merits and not being influenced by what a legion of internet prognosticators had said about it.
The result? I was pleasantly surprised.
The pilot, which is the critical episode for any show wanting to attract, and more crucially, hold fans, was water tight. It explained, with a minimum of fuss, and a lean, sharply poised script, what the future was like, why there was a conflict, and why its unintended spillover into the early 21st centre would be a bad thing for all concerned.
I was impressed with Rachel Nichols performance, and while Viktor Webster doesn’t match her volley for volley just yet in the acting stakes, the chemistry between the two characters is real, believable and not forced.
The “Liber8” group are still reasonably cliched bad guys at this point of viewing with the exception of Lucas Ingram (Omari Newton) and Matthew Kellog (Stephen Lobo) who have begun to be subtlety yet substantially fleshed out as real people, and not just mindless terrorists (or freedom fighters depending on your view of the struggle central to the show’s existence).
Given I have only seen the first two episodes at this stage, I am impressed with how much they have managed to achieve in such a short time. It isn’t a perfect show by any means – the acting by one or two of the secondary characters leave a little but to be desired, and there a few plot contrivances (such as no one bothering to verify Kiera’s credentials at the police dept and then being royally pissed off when she turned out not to be who she was initially claiming to be) too many, but by and large it is a robust engaging debut.
How engaging you ask? Well I can’t wait to see more episodes, which is a good sign that this show, as with any new show, is doing a great job of telling the stories it wants to tell.
I think Continuum is here for the long haul.