Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Continuum: Pilot - A Review

Showcase has been putting out really good shows lately. First there's Lost Girl, a supernatural crime drama about a succubus who takes a job as a private detective solving unusual crimes while investigating her own mysterious past. It's basically Joss Whedon's Angel, but it has its own unique flavor and an interesting universe to work with, putting a modern spin on mythological creatures akin to The Dresden Files. Next they released XIII: The Series, an adaptation of the French comic about an amnesiac spy who has to uncover a massive conspiracy (no, it's not The Bourne Identity). Good acting and great action choreography, with a developing plot that keeps you invested. Really looking forward to that second season...

I first learned about Continuum from the side of a bus, and that was as good a recommendation as I needed to check it out. The year is 2077, and after the world's governments went bankrupt in a massive financial crisis, private corporations have taken the reins of society. The result is a futuristic utopia of holographics and chrome (think Perfect Dark, or Shadowrun), but crime is still an issue. This is the responsibility of Vancouver City Protective Services, and our protagonist Kiera Cameron, played by Rachel Nichols. You might remember her as Tamara from the recent Conan remake, or Scarlett from GI Joe, or...

You better put her in the sequel, J. J. Abrams...
...yeah, she's been "the hot girl" in a lot of her films, but as the lead actress of this series, she gets to flex more of her acting talent than her previous roles allowed. Kiera's a dedicated officer, wife and mother, and we get plenty of chances to see her kick ass throughout the pilot while she comes to terms with her new situation and the loss of her family.

Apparently the change from government rule to corporate ownership came with a loss of individual rights, which means the loss of free speech, right to peaceful assembly, and the rest of the contents of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms we learned about in high school and promptly forgot. A group of terrorists known as Liber8 (because there are eight of them, and they want to liberate, get it?) blow up a bunch of corporate office buildings in order to assassinate the CEOs and board members of said corporations. To me, this seems like a really inefficient assassination plan, since the collateral damage of 30,000 deaths to kill 20 people is not likely to get popular opinion on your side. But despite this, I do appreciate making the dividing issue more morally ambiguous, so we can see both sides. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and it's easier to see that when you're the one without freedom. I would even be inclined to favor such a view, if it wasn't for the aforementioned bombings and murders.

As the members of Liber8 are about to be publicly executed for their crimes, they stage an escape. Using some presently undefined piece of technology, they create a focused energy burst that sends them back in time to present day Vancouver, appearing in the middle of downtown along with Kiera, who was standing near the prisoners and had been caught up in the burst. Trapped in the past without backup, it is now up to her to capture the prisoners and prevent them from altering the future. Wait, this sounds familiar...

 It's surprisingly similar.

Filmed locally, it actually takes place in Vancouver as opposed to standing in for Seattle or other Midwestern cities as it often does. Rachel Nichols shares the screen with several other noteworthy local actors you will probably recognize. Erik Knudsen (Saw II, Scream 4) plays Alec Sadler, a young tech whiz who invented the technology used by Kiera in the future, and thus is able to provide her with tech support; the voice in her ear, as it were. She also has an ally on the police force in Detective Carlos Fonnegra, played by Victor Webster (Mutant X). The fugitive terrorists include Roger Cross (First Wave, 24) and Lexa Doig (Andromeda, Stargate SG1), who will likely gain prominence in later episodes. Also keep an eye out from William B. Davis of X-Files fame in a cameo that raises several interesting questions for later.

The pilot showcases plenty of special effects gems, with special focus on Kiera herself. Her shiny gold jumpsuit (fanservice ahoy!) serves multiple functions, as we see it giving her optical camouflage abilities, absorbing bullet impacts, and generating electric charges to stun enemies. Her body is also implanted with a kind of neural recorder, allowing her to playback anything she's seen and heard for later review, giving her literal photographic memory. Pilot episodes tend to have bigger budgets than the rest of the series in order to draw audiences in, so it's likely that we won't be seeing as much of this sort of thing later on, but it's still cool.

Ratings were quite high for the first episode, but shows like this need to be able to maintain consistent viewership in order to convince executives to sign on for more than one season. There's a lot of room for development with this one, given the possibilities inherent with a time travel story (altered futures, multiple timelines, and so on). Some of you might remember The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was cancelled at the end of it's second season right when things were starting to get interesting (watch it if you haven't, it's awesome). So I strongly recommend that you check out Continuum. You can watch the pilot and learn more about the show at and catch the next episode Sunday at 9pm, ET/DT.

No comments:

Post a Comment