Knowing nothing about Continuum, beyond iO9 repeatedly name dropping it in my Facebook timeline, I was expecting no better than Jean Claude Van Damme, ricketing down a tunnel o'time in a two seater Sinclair C5 lookalike ("Timecop" 1994), with irritatingly clashing flavours of causality in each successive episode.
But Continuum is far more grown up, with unexpected attention to detail. We're not talking "Primer" (2004) level mind strain, but it is more grounded than the "Back to the Future" (1985) style paradoxical paradox resolutions, also present (but better executed) in "Looper" (2012). Of course there wasn't a blockbuster budget here, so the CGI is relatively light and tasteful, with the all singing/dancing views of the future carefully rationed. Action/fight scenes aren't it's forté either, but are always passable, without any cringe-worthy flaws.
It is pretty clever at setting it's own tone, in the first season, by building up towards opportunities for obvious (dramatic tension building) clichés, staring them square in the eye, then casually bypassing them with a barely glimpsed smirk.
It's fully Bechdel test compliant too (unlike "Elysium"). In fact, the central female character is of a convincingly conservative disposition, despite supermodel looks and that skin-tight, nano-weave onesie. More of a Major Kusanagi of 1995 (my personal GITS preference) than the harlot of the (still highly recommended) 2002-2005 series, or the original manga (I've not yet seen the new "Arise" reboot).
|Major Kusanagi (GITS 1995) vs Kiera Cameron (Continuum)|
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|Many monitors maketh the 'Great Man'..?|
The plot does feel a little more unfocused, midway through the second run, but never jumps the shark in terms of confusing complexity. It actually comes together very tidily, disdaining a frustrating cliff hanger, or "Hero's" (2006-2010) style hanging segue to season 3, in favour of a deliciously dark full stop.