#Continuum. Or, why the past isn't what it used to be.


When Continuum premiered a couple months back on Showcase, I was intrigued enough by the premise to sit through the first show. In a nutshell, it's 2077, governments have fallen and corporations control the world (or, at least, the North American Union), and ridiculously cute married-with-young-child cop Keira Cameron gets sucked back into the past with a group of terrorists called Liber8 who escape their execution through a time travelling portal they activate in the execution chamber. And they all land in Vancouver in 2012, which is very convenient for purposes of shooting schedules.

I almost turned off the first episode after the first segment. It was preachy. It was full of ridiculous stereotypes that spanned the political spectrum. The dialogue was hackneyed and cliched. I stuck with it through the rest of the show and then in the final scene - BAM! They hit us with a brilliant plot twist that not only had me hooked but had me rewatching the premiere to pick up more clues as to what was really going on.

For the most part, the series has been good to very good. I love the concept, and they've had some really good episodes and some pretty interesting plot developments. It has done some minor exploring of time travel paradoxes in a way that isn't insulting to the viewer's intelligence. (Because if you're going to write time travel sci-fi, it better be smart time travel sci-fi.) And, for the most part, the show is rewarding viewers by planting seeds of future plot developments and then paying them off.

But I feel like I should be enjoying Continuum more than I am. (Edit: And judging by the falling ratings, perhaps I'm not alone.)

Part of it is that nearly every episode has that "Yank me out of my suspension of disbelief" moment that leaves me fuming.  Like the time Alec asked Keira - pistol drawn, about to walk into a gun fight - "So, Keira, why don't you talk about your family anymore?" Wrong time, dude. But instead of her issuing a few four-letter words at Alec, which is, of course, what any normal person would do, she actually responded, and we got a piece of dialogue that utterly did not fit the visuals that went with it and had me rolling my eyes at the TV screen.

Last night's episode, which was probably the weakest so far, was no exception. The acting by the oil company guys in the first 20 minutes of last night's show was high school play laughable. And there was little to no drama because, in my humble opinion, it was obvious they were involved in the kidnapping of the CEO (er, spoiler alert, I guess). And I just can't get emotionally invested in Alec's step-family because they don't ring true as real people, but caricatures and stereotypes.

Continuum should be a tightly-written story arc with a core group of about 20 characters, all of whom should matter and mean something, that ultimately pays off the answer to the most fundamental question of the series: Why was Keira sent back in time with Liber8?

But my great fear with this show is that it's going to just drag on forever and stumble to an unsatisfying conclusion at whatever point Showcase decides to cancel it. Continuum would have so much more potential as, say, a 25-episode, two-season maxi-series rather than what I assume is going to be an open-ended TV show going season after season. There are only so many good stories to tell involving Liber8 and Keira and time travel stuff before it's going to become Generic Cop Show #47, and last night's episode was trending strongly in that direction already.

We've been given some very interesting teases about why Keira has been thrown back in time and who is responsible - is Future Alec trying to rewrite the past? If so, why? Is her husband involved? (He seems a little shady, doesn't he? I'm pretty sure the answer to this question is yes.)

But at some point, we need answers to all the big questions. And, unfortunately, I always have this sinking feeling with Continuum that we're never going to get them. I hope I'm wrong.
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