Like many time-travel tales, “Continuum” — Syfy’s latest Canadian import — is sort of fun at the beginning, but doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Another story built around the question of whether it’s possible to alter the past in order to reshape the present/future, the show’s mix of “Logan’s Run” and “Blade Runner”-like elements largely fade into a conventional shoot-’em-up cop procedural with a few cute toys. Because the series was launched in Canada, Syfy probably got favorable financial terms as what amounts to a secondary market; even so, the program’s future Stateside is at best unclear.
Rachel Nichols (“Criminal Minds”) stars as Kiera Cameron, a spandex-wearing cop (OK, “Protective Services officer”) from 2077, who helps nab a group of terrorists targeting corporations that have bailed out the government and taken over. On the brink of being executed, though, the group manages to escape custody by leaping back to 2012 — inadvertently bringing Kiera through the portal with them.
This quantum leap leaves Kiera understandably disoriented, though she quickly connects with a young tech-hacking genius (amazing how many of those there are on TV) named Alec (Erik Knudsen), who assists her with needed intel. She also aligns herself with the local police, telling them she’s a visiting cop pursuing a murderous gang, and acquires a buff partner (Victor Webster).
Written by Simon Barry and directed by “24’s” Jon Cassar, the pilot looks pretty impressive in the future, but after that, it’s a fairly standard copshow, other than the bionic-type gizmos Kiera brings to the fight. The show is also fuzzy on precisely what the terrorists hope to accomplish, whether they truly can achieve their objectives, and if the society Kiera has sworn to protect is, given its structure, even worth saving.
This is such familiar terrain, it’s easy to throw out all kinds of comparisons, from “Timecop” to “Life on Mars.” Ultimately, though, “Continuum” engages in a lot of shootouts, albeit without much sense of jeopardy, given the bad guys (fairly nondescript, other than another “24” alum, Roger Cross, as their leader) aren’t exactly a renewable resource.
In the second episode, moreover, that gee-whiz future is largely reduced to flashbacks, which no doubt keeps the budget in line but also makes the show feel even more mundane, albeit with serialized threads.
Nichols certainly brings a striking look to the role, but other than missing her family, there’s almost a cyborg-like quality to her. Apparently, the next 65 years will lead to a reduction in facial expression.
“Continuum” does fit the Syfy profile, but it’s still a pretty thin exercise that doesn’t quite pass this fundamental test: If allowed to go back in time, would you erase the hours spent watching this show?