Review: Continuum (Season Three)

Continuum title card (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

Continuum title card (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

Kiera Cameron, time travelling cop, Large Forehead Annonmous member (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

Kiera Cameron, time-travelling cop, Large Forehead Anonymous member (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

Either a time travel device or a Terry's Chocolate Orange

A Terry’s Chocolate Orange (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

A time travel device (Image via Wikimedia)

Disney's Recess' Randall

Disney’s Recess’ Randall (Screenshot via Showcase.ca)

Alec Sadler (right) (Screenshot via YouTube)

Continuum‘s Alec Sadler (right) (Screenshot via YouTube)

B-

I think we’ve all had a time travel fantasy. Who wouldn’t like to peek into the future or fix a past mistake? Time-travel series, Continuum turns that fantasy on its head and makes the entire concept seem like a dark, gritty nightmare. At the end of the show’s second season protagonist, Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols), a cop from the year 2077 with a forehead the size of an IMAX screen, was left stranded in the year 2013 because some guy named Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen) betrayed her and took her chance to go back to 2077 to save his girlfriend, Emily.

He simply snagged the Terry’s Chocolate Orange look-alike time travel device and went on his merry way back in time to save her. Season three of the series picks up right there and attempts to piece together lasts season’s epic cliffhanger.

Before I go any further, if you haven’t watched Continuum, you might think Alec Sadler’s a cool name, and since he betrayed someone that must mean he’s a badass. You might be surprised to learn that he’s portrayed as a curly-haired kinda geeky/nerdy, pale guy in his early to mid 20s. He looks a lot like Randall from Recess if he aged a good ten years or so, and exactly like the type of person I’d imagine who would be riveted to this show on the other side of the screen. Perhaps he is portrayed that way because it makes Alec more relatable to Continuum’s core audience.

Anyway, the show refers to Alec’s actions as a “betrayal” but I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. Alec went back in time to save someone. He didn’t throw Kiera into a shark tank or anything like that. Heck, I think it might’ve been possible to go back in time to save his girlfriend and save Kiera while at it…but I’m not sure.

You see, some of Continuum’s logic was either lost because I haven’t seen the first two seasons or it might’ve not even been there in the first place. There seems to be leaps in logic all over the place. For example, after Alec went back in time, Kiera accurately guessed that he went back in time a week to save Emily. How did she know exactly when he went back in time if she didn’t know he was going to “betray” her and use the time travel device for himself? Also, couldn’t he have gone back further in time to do the same thing? Then I struggled to understand why he went back to save one person. Why not stop 9/11 or the Kennedy or Martin Luther King assassinations or go all the way back to see Jesus? Again, some of this might’ve been explained earlier in the series but for me just picking it up, it’s rather perplexing.

On a whole Continuum is a very confusing series, particularly so when it comes to the various timelines. It seems one timeline ends and merges with another, but then there’s the possibility that it might diverge again.

It’s things like that which make me highly doubt that this show is designed to be picked up randomly a season or two in, like what I attempted. If it sounds like something you’d be into it’s probably best to start right from season one. If you’re in Canada, you’re in luck. Showcase has the first two seasons up on its site. If you’re elsewhere in the world (from what I understand if it airs in your country, it likely airs on your local SyFy station), you might not be as lucky. Hit up their sites to see if you can find the first two seasons or buy it on DVD/Bluray or on iTunes if it’s available. Otherwise, I’m betting you’ll be just as lost as me and might give up on it or it’ll be something you have on in the background and might glance at when the action goes down.

Speaking of the action, when it comes, it hits you like a speeding train. I’m talking that random fighting sequence halfway through the season premiere that comes out of nowhere. It’s impressive stuff, but I can’t understand why the characters are so hard pressed to kill. Perhaps they feel the reality they’re in isn’t real because of the divergences in the timeline so they can do whatever they need to survive, and what better way to know you wont be attacked than to make sure the bad guys are dead. However, I’m assuming the fighting sequences are mostly thrown into the show for the hell of it because it looks so badass. Regardless, the amount of violence in the series seems ultimately unwarranted, particularly the use of guns which are often waved around for no good reason.

Continuum often falls back on guns as a cheap way to add drama to the series (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

Continuum often falls back on guns as a cheap way to add drama  (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

The way Continuum uses guns is unnecessary at best and irresponsible at worst, when you keep in mind that every few months you hear of a shooting rampage on the news. It wasn’t too long ago when 20 kids were shot dead in an elementary school, so I can’t see why Continuum uses guns willy-nilly for no good reason at all.

Yup, that's a mighty real time machine (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

Yup, that’s a mighty real looking time machine you got there (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

Beyond the excessive gun use, Continuum suffers from some cheesy dialogue from time to time, that’s not particularly helped by the moody music in the background. You have people saying things like “I killed… I, I, I k-k-killed you, I KILLLED YOUUUU!!!,” or “not where, when?” (It’s a time travel show. Get it? Heh, heh.) The at times clunky dialogue doesn’t detract from how visually impressive the show is, but that’s when you can’t spot the obvious CGI.

While the show is overly complicated and the sheer number of guns on Continuum would throw Piers Morgan into a fit, there’s something about it that I just like. I feel like if I watched the series from the start, I might’ve been able to really get into it and understand it, but after reading the fan reaction to Showcase’s This Week in Continuum, I wound up thinking that there’s a good chance I’d be just as confused.

There’s no doubt elements of Continuum were done before in far less perplexing ways, but the show’s overall time-traveling concept could bring in a lot of unique elements to the series, depending on how imaginative the writers get.

The show isn't afraid to pull stunts (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

Continuum isn’t afraid to pull stunts (Screenshot via showcase.ca)

You, the viewer, can get a glimpse into what the future might bring along with its crazy toys or perhaps even a look at an alternate present. What also makes Continuum fun is that it likes to throw a few bombshells along the way. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s quite a big one at the end of the season premiere.

Part of what I think stands in the way of Continuum’s success (much like a lot of other Canadian shows I reviewed) is its time-slot. This one in particular is up against a beast, The Walking Dead. Not only is the show a ratings juggernaut, but I think it would draw the same sort of core audience: 20-30 something sci-fi geeks. Thankfully, tonight is the finale of The Walking Dead and AMC is debuting a new series, TURN, in the same time-slot next week. Continuum still has other sci-fi/fantasy competition to worry about in its Sunday at 9 time-slot. There’s Resurrection on City and ABC, and Believe on CTV and NBC. Tonight, however, Believe is preempted on CTV for the Junos, while CTV Two’s airing Flashpoint in the slot. Global and Fox, on the other hand, chose to go with science fact over science fiction with Cosmos. Besides that there’s the inexplicably popular Big Brother Canada airing in the same time-slot over on Showcase’s sister station Slice, and new episodes of Naked and Afraid on Discovery, No Man’s Land on History, Just For Laughs: All Access on Comedy and Death Row Stories on CNN. With all that strong competition, it makes you wonder why Showcase doesn’t just swap Continuum with Rizzoli & Isles and air the series an hour later at 10 p.m..

Episode reviewed: Minute By Minute
Continuum airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showcase
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