Is Continuum on the SciFi channel (I still refuse to call it the SyFy channel). Unless, that is, you are watching it, then it would follow you are not missing it. It is a time-travel television series. At this point that would be enough selling for me – I LOVE time-travel stories. They are, however, rarely done well, or they are merely excessively sentimental love stories with the time-travel merely a device to showcase a romantic “what if they never kissed?” motif.
I will not spend all the time recapping the entire show. That can be found already done in plenty of places on the web. But I will do a little. Season One centered on a future cop getting accidentally sent back in time with a group of terrorists to our time. The cop, Kiera, positions herself within the Vancouver police force to help fight these terrorists as they proceed to rain havoc upon the city with their violence and anti-corporate rhetoric.
Kiera’s main drive is to not only stop the terrorists but to get back to her family in the future. She gets (through her future technology) hooked up with a young man, Alec, who, in her future, is the most important man alive, the innovator of most of her time’s technology and societal structure. Through their connection, he from his computer tech-station she from her futuristic brain implants, they are a step ahead of the present day investigators trying to stop the terrorists.
While Season One follows this basic struggle, we know there are many things not right. Not right with her husband (through future scenes of Kiera’s present day) and with the old Alec.
Season Two introduced many new characters each with a complicated entanglement to the central conflict. I felt at the end of Season One that the line of socialistically styled terrorists versus a time-traveller and her in-the-dark present time police allies would grow rather stale if it continued in the same vein.
That is why I consider Season Two to be some of the best television I have seen. In one sense time-travel is easy to write in that the conflicts practically write themselves and the paradoxes add an automatic complexity. It can be hard also in that it all becomes complicated very fast and thus the need to keep it linear can stifle bold risk taking in story-tellling. And if boldness is taken it can also be easy to become bogged down in incoherency.
In Season Two the writers were very wise to slowly introduce the new characters and to slowly reveal their complexity into the – well, the Continuum.
I hate giving away stories, so let me put it this way. By the end of Season Two’s finale I felt like I was one of the blind men in the Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant. I saw only the first floor of a building not seeing the other 59 stories above me. The result was that in the Season Three premiere the main conflicts that occupied the first two seasons are rendered moot, although the main objectives of the characters have remained the same.
They completely opened the flood gates in time-travel complexity. Not that I haven’t read such stories before (written science fiction is always many decades ahead of filmed science fiction) but I haven’t seen it in film before. And it is hard to cram the time-travel possibilities into a two-hour film without going 12 Monkeys on your brain. A series is the perfect medium for such fare.
Don’t miss out on this great show!