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Continuum - A premise with promise, lost in lazy writing

By Andrew Pollack on 06/23/2013 at 10:37 AM EDT

A bunch of people have recommended this show, and as the summer re-run season starts I thought I'd check it out on Netflix. I've seen most of the first season now, and I wish I could really like this one. The potential is there, but the execution -- particularly on the writing -- falls far short of what it could be.

The basic story is about a cop from the future, only the cop works for the evil corporations that now control the world. The cop accidentally gets tossed back to 2012 along with a gang of leaders from a terrorist cell, only one man's terrorists are another man's freedom fighters. These terrorists are fighting the evil corporations in the future. By jumping everyone back to 2012, the series keeps the costs of production down and can turn it into essentially a police procedural with a few twists and a few extra bits of tech that the cop happened to have with her when she got there. Surprisingly, her connected tech mostly works in 2012, because the guy who invented is still a kid, but was just testing it out when she arrives. He's a computer genius who turns into her back-office I.T. department. In the mean time, he lives with his mom on a family farm along with his stepfather and step brother who had their own farm but lost it to corporate farming.


The writers fail the bad guys. Right off the bat the writers toss the potential for exploring the question about who are the guys and who are the bad guys by making most of the so called freedom fighters comically evil. They just show and start shooting people. There's the super scientist IT guy of the the terrorists but he's also a clown. There's the super egotists leader, but the writing fails him. He gets bad cliches instead of interesting things to say. There's so much great material he could be quoting, and instead he just spouts bad metaphor and slogans. On this, they do a little bit better with the cop, but the way they layer in that part of the back story, you have to wonder why she didn't see the things going on at the time. Is she an idiot?

The writers fail the hero. One minute, she's got mad ninja skills, speed, and strength. She can go toe to toe with the super commando guys from the future in strength and fighting skills. The next minute, any local street punk can kick her ass. What's up with that?

The writers fail the politics. At its heart, there's a meaty backstory about corporate abuse here. The material in today's headlines is just ripe for harvest in this regard. It's all there to be used and instead the writers just fall back on over simplified basic plot lines and tired old stories. It could be done so much better. Look what Aaron Sorkin did with Newsroom for an example of how to mix in real political and economic stories to drive your plot.

The writers fail the kid genius. This kid lives on a barely working family farm with his mom. His chores amount to a few minutes a day carrying things while he types away on a tablet. He spends almost all day and night in the high tech filled barn loft which seems to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in tech gear capable of inventing or fixing virtually anything at any time including chip fabrication and nano-scale production from the future. Of course, he invented/will invent most of that so of course he can fix it. In the mean time, this kid genius doesn't seem to have a job, or even have to answer to his mother. We know that someday he takes all these inventions and becomes the leader of the biggest mega corporation. For now, he's Wesley Crusher in a barn loft.

Finally, the tech. You knew I wouldn't ignore the tech. The future tech is a gun/multi-tool, some kind of neural net in her brain, and a magic suit of skin tight armor. It never needs charging. It never runs out of magic chemicals she can inject into people that make them sleep, or tell the truth, or whatever. The suit breaks but boy genius fixes it. Oh, and it's so bullet proof that it seems to protect her head which isn't covered by it -- and it can make her invisible.

The show has all the parts it needs to be great, and instead of something really brilliant -- they've recreated an 80's future tech show like Knight Rider or Aerowolf.

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Continuum - A premise with promise, lost in lazy writingBy Simon on 06/26/2013 at 03:10 AM EDT
Season 2 is considerably better and it turns out the whole plot has nothing to
do with what you mentioned above. ;) Seems to be 3 main arcs that I can see.
re: Continuum - A premise with promise, lost in lazy writingBy Andrew Pollack on 06/26/2013 at 08:23 AM EDT
It's pretty common to re-tool a show like that after a season (or even a mid
season break). For right now, season 2 isn't on netflix yet and i'm behind on
it so I'll have to either torrent it somewhere or wait.
re: Continuum - A premise with promise, lost in lazy writingBy Kevin Balvin on 06/27/2013 at 12:48 AM EDT
House of Cards on Netflix
Great political drama
Kevin Spacey plays a great decieving politician

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