Continuum Review: Wasting Time

Shades of Charlie Jade and Terminator: SCC (with hints of Life on Mars)! Canadian television has launched a new SF series this spring, involving a time-travelled hero in touch with a youth who will one day be significant, terrorism, and technology.

We’ll also address and take comments on the first two episodes.

Title: “Wasting Time”

Cast and Crew

Director: David Frazee
Writer: Simon Berry

Rachel Nichols as Kiera Cameron
Victor Webster as Carlos Fonnegra
Erik Kundson as Alec Sadler
Stephen Lobo as Kellog
Lexa Doig as Sonya Valentine aka the Queen of Hearts
Roger Cross as Travis
Brian Markinson as Dillon
Richard Harmon as Julian Randol
Jennifer Spence as Betty Robertson
John Reardon as Greg
Terry Chen as Curtis Chen
Hiro Kanagawa as Dr. Gibson

Full cast and crew information may be found here.


General: In 2077, technology permeates all aspects of life and corporations run the world, though they appear to be doing a fair job. A terrorist cell composed of some very dangerous individuals set off an experimental time-travel device to escape execution, taking them back to present-day Vancouver, along with a highly trained police officer.

The terrorists hope to change the future. The officer infiltrates the contemporary police force. She also befriends Alec Sadler, already well underway developing some of the technology that will fundamentally change the future. His elderly future self also appears to know about his past involvement with the time-travelled officer, and arguably allowed the terrorists to make the time-jump.

This week: Murder victims with holes in their skulls lead back to the Liber8 terrorists—but what purpose could these bizarre crimes serve? Meanwhile, a member of the terrorist cell contacts Keira Cameron.

High Point

I like the complexity lingering in the background, and I hope future episodes don’t shortchange it. The corporate future is not the dystopia seen in Blade Runner or Charlie Jade. We receive hints, however, that it may be less perfect than our heroes believe.

The terrorist cell consists of incredibly dangerous criminals who do not hesitate to kill innocent people in droves. Some of their long-term goals, however, may be sympathetic. We simply know too little about the backstory of this world, and why one of its leading lights permitted the time-jump to occur.

Low Points

We have to accept the general premise and the science, but we shouldn’t have to accept implausible behavior. Trained detectives tend to notice aggressively suspicious behavior and attitudes. Kiera Cameron does a lot of things that call attention to how out of place she is. It also seems ludicrous the police would simply accept her vast knowledge about a hitherto unknown terrorist group, and that they cannot talk to anyone in the military about dangerous crimes involving ex-military. And while I appreciate that the show’s creators don’t want to keep revisiting this plot, it does seem a stretch that Liber8, with limited technological resources, could synthesize so much of the serum in a short time.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 Essentially, we have SF tropes wedded to the contemporary cop drama, but they’re playing well together.

Effects: 5/6 The show handles its effects decently. We see glimpses in flashback of future Vancouver. The crumbling wall in the fight looked a lot like a wall designed to break.

Story: 4/6 The basic story holds up well, though the needs of the story arc made the episode seem a bit fragmented in places.

Acting: 5/6 The acting is passable contemporary television.

Emotional Response: 4/6

Production: 5/6.

Overall: 5/6 The show lacks the depth and complexity of Charlie Jade, but it has the potential for greater popular appeal.

In total, “Wasting Time” receives 31/42

Lingering Questions

1. Are the characters in a fixed loop that had to happen to bring about the future—or can the future be changed?
2. How will Alec develop the technology and found a game-changing corporation when he appears to spend all of his time helping Kiera?
3. I’m sure many of us got the H.G. Wells reference. How many people noticed the sign for Faber College?

3 replies on “Continuum Review: Wasting Time”

  1. Who says the trained detectives haven’t noticed her suspicious behaviour? As a matter of fact, that was a major point of last week’s episode when Alec planted a fake back story. It involved a calculated deception to get her in with the locals. Also, it’s not clear to me how much time has actually passed since the beginning so inquiries could be caught up in red tape.

    As for lingering question #2, the very technology Alec is supposed to be developing is what he is using to help Kiera so it’s not so questionable that he can develop it while doing so. Also, unless my memory deceives me, we saw him meeting with a money type in a previous episode and he often isn’t there when Kiera needs him for various reasons.

    There were implications in the first episode that it is, in fact, a closed causal loop but it wasn’t stated explicitly nor was it done in a way that doesn’t allow weaseling out of it later.

    • I actually like the way they’ve left the time loop open to question. And yeah, I expect we will have their suspicions of Keira become more of a plot point down the road. Her actions just seem really suspicious– her knowledge of the terrorist group especially. Terrorist groups don’t appear from thin air, and the fact that this one has, and the new cop seems to be the only one with the relevant background, should really be ringing some alarms.

      Overall, I recommend this show. I think it has the potential to be an SF hit, and we don’t have too many of those right now. A LOT of fantasy on television, but not so much SF.

      • Upon reflection, the PTBs might actually be keeping Kiera where she is because she is so suspicious. How better to watch her, eh? I also got the impression they aren’t going to leave that particular plot point hanging for too long.

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