I always give tv shows two episodes. I’ve explained my reasons in detail here but to put it succinctly, I think that all shows need one episode to establish its premise, characters and the direction it wishes to take and then a second episode to actually present the format and style for the rest of the series. Continuum was lucky because I gave it three and a half episodes.
I don’t think its fair to review Continuum in the same way I review all the other shows I watch because I didn’t see it through to at least a season. I did want to explain why I didn’t stick with it though and it boils down to a missed opportunity.
There is a lot to like about Continuum. The premise for the series is a bold and original one. A cop from the future gets sent back to our time with a group of seven terrorists who want to alter the past so they can change their future. Aided with a computer genius who will grow up to be influential in her future, the cop partners with another officer from our time to try to take down the terrorists before they change something in the future.
That was always going to take some establishing but the show does it well and pilot rips along at a great pace, introducing a host of characters and their intentions and plans. There was solid action, very cool looking, futuristic environments and a stark contrast with our time period in 2012. Of course, some elements are glossed over, like how our hero, Kiera Cameron, played by Rachel Nichols, can communicate with the essential, computer boy genius perfectly, the moment she lands. It’s an easy plot device and comes in handy later so its also easy to overlook and dismiss.
In fact, Continuum has a lot of potential. It sets itself up to be a series about Kiera tracking down each terrorist as they try, in their own unique way, to change the future. Each episode could have been a new way to change things to benefit their group, each of them using their unique trait or characteristic to accomplish it. It could have been a mix of science-fiction, detective work and action.
Unfortunately, what we get is something much more slow and plodding. After the show is set up very ably with the first episode, the direction the series takes and the decisions made by the characters don’t seem to make much sense. For example, the terrorists have been sent back in time to change things for themselves in the future, but the second episode sees them trying to return home, having changed nothing. It makes little to no sense and feels like a backwards step.
The next episode is a straight murder mystery for the detectives because the terrorists are trying to find a cure for an illness one of their own contracts with little to no explanation. It isn’t established in the beginning of the episode or even in the previous episodes. The show begins to feel directionless and muddled, with no coherent plan or thread running through the show.
Add to that the fact that very little seems to happen. It’s not that I want mindless action but in a science-fiction show about cops chasing terrorists, I want there to be a little more pace to the episodes. It felt like it was taking too long to explain any of the elements of each episode’s story and I didn’t care enough about the characters, or understand what they were doing, to stick with it and persevere.
That is always the biggest test of any show for me; do I care? I got half way through the fourth episodes, when a huge reveal about the leader of the terrorists and his location was introduced, and it wasn’t the exciting or interesting plot development it was supposed to be. If I’m not hooked four episodes in, then I’m not going to give it any more of my time, especially when I have Blu-Rays, DVDs and a DVR full of shows which will almost definitely be better.
Overall, Continuum missed a great opportunity. It set itself up with a fantastic premise and some great potential directions for the show to go but chose the wrong one. It has muddled stories, strange motivations for the characters and a very slow, plodding way of telling each episodes’ story.