I guess I don't really expect smart, well-thought out science fiction from the SyFy channel, but 'Continuum' is a surprisingly cerebral TV show. The groundwork laid for the basis of the show is thick and its future-tech is impressively realistic and useful. This is technology that could actually be implemented at some time in the future and have real, long-lasting implications on humankind.
'Continuum' begins in the year 2077. Private corporations are the new government. It's a scenario that some may see as a very believable dystopian future if we're not careful. The corporations have created a society where people feel oppressed and unable to wield freedom like they did in decades past. To keep the peace they've formed a group of protectors who are outfitted with state-of-the-art futuristic technology. This tech is implanted into their brains, essentially creating an organic computer. Their eyes record everything. Their brains store detail like computers, yet they are completely human.
One such protector, Kiera (Rachel Nichols) has a family, and lives her life believing that she's protecting society. The protectors are fighting against a well-funded, well-organized terrorist network called "Liber8." This group believes that people's freedoms have become extinct and they long to put the control of government back in the hands of the people.
The series begins as eight high-ranking members of the group are set to be executed. Only, right before they're executed, they time jump back to 2012 with a mysterious device. Kiera, not knowing what's happening, jumps in to stop them and gets sucked back in time with them. The group only meant to go back a few years. Instead they find themselves stuck in 2012, some 60 years from when they're meant to be. Following her protocol to apprehend and capture all of the terrorists, Kiera continues pursuing the escapees in the past.
Time travel is a tricky storytelling device. It always raises so many questions, especially the Butterfly Effect. Although, with the way the show is structured I found myself thinking less about the inexorable paradoxes and more about how much I was enjoying what was happening.
Here's the interesting dichotomy that 'Continuum' possesses. The terrorist group is a band of freedom fighters. Their methods may be overly violent, but they're simply participating in the same kind of government upheaval as say V from 'V for Vendetta.' Kiera, on the other hand, is a stooge of the corporation-formed government. She believes what she's doing is right, but is it really? If we found ourselves in a future ruled by the whims of a government completely formed by for-profit corporations, which side would we be on? I find this innately intriguing as I watch the show. I can't honestly say whose side I would be on.
The only thing that really puts somewhat of a halt on the proceedings is the fact that there are times where the smartness of the show is submarined by some chuckle-worthy overacting.
Kiera soon meets young genius Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen). Alec is kind of a big deal in the future, but right now he's a computer genius with a huge array of computers arranged in the loft of his family barn. The two of them form an unlikely team as they hunt down the future terrorists before they cause too much havoc in the past.
Some of the episodes tend to be more formulaic than others. The show finds its rhythm and goes with it. However, the intelligence of its science fiction, mingled with its genuinely interesting storyline, make it something that deserves to be watched and enjoyed.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This SyFy/Universal release is a 2-disc set. Season one of the show contains 10 episodes, five episodes to a disc. The Discs are 50GB Blu-rays. They're packaged in a standard keepcase that comes complete with a small insert that gives you episode titles and brief synopses.
There's no getting over the digital sheen of 'Continuum.' It's far from a cinematic look, but that's to be expected from a cable show. It reminds me of the look and feel of 'The 4400.' The digital look of the show creates a few visual inconsistencies here and there.
Surprisingly, the show's CGI elements are very well-rendered. I was expecting some pretty chintzy computer animation when it came to visualizing the future-tech. Instead they managed to provide some very nice animation that holds up even under the scrutiny of HD.
Black areas waver a bit as they tend to do in digital productions. Many times shadows appear flat and somewhat lifeless. Crushing is somewhat of a downer every now and then. Some faint banding also creeps in on occasion. Fine detail looks really well done though. The honeycomb texture of Kiera's future suit looks almost tactile. Facial features like hair, smile lines, freckles, and imperfections are on full display. There may be some slight visual troubles here and there, but the show's details really stand out.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless mix is an extremely front-heavy affair. Most shows of this ilk never seem to fill out a full surround sound mix and that's the case with 'Continuum.'
While dialogue is clean and never muddled, the whole mix feels like it's centered right up front. Music, sound effects, and even much of the ambient sound seems localized in the front three channels. The rear channels are light and never really engage the listener. There are some scenes with busy streets, restaurants, or gunfights that should have more emphasis in the rear speakers that just isn't there.
LFE comes across as light. Explosions don't pack the heft one might think explosions should pack. I felt a little letdown by this standard, somewhat underperforming, surround sound mix.
I was stunned how much I enjoyed this SyFy Channel original. 'Continuum' is smart and savvy when it comes to portraying a futuristic dystopian society. You can tell that they've thought through the show's sci-fi technology and have created very believable uses for it. Even the time travel paradoxes don't seem all that distracting. I would recommend this show to anyone.