Continuum's freshman season came and went fleetingly fast, providing a surprising amount of entertainment crammed into just ten episodes. During the downturn of winter television season, SyFy's Canadian imported series began by promising much, then dragging it's feet out of the gate. Patience was well rewarded though, with each successive episode ratcheting up the irresistible nature of time travel mystery. The story of a person out of time is timeless. Viewers instinctively begin placing themselves in the traveler's shoes, crafting a plan around how to leverage future knowledge to survive in an alien past.
Continuum was very smart in grounding the turmoil in one potential future, which is not so impossible as to allow us to discount it's eventuality. In this potential outcome, all of the world's government has financially failed, making way for the corporations to bail them out. These corporations becomes a corporate dictatorship, pressing every man, woman, and child into a form of inescapable servitude. How can one buy themselves free from the bondage of the entity that provides all goods and services? Opposing this all powerful faceless entity are the terrorists of Liber8, a faction who kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians in an attempt at the lives of the corporate dictators. Some shadowy shenanigans are afoot during their execution, which result in the time displacement of the Liber8 terrorists and a lone protector (the future's form of law enforcement) to present day Vancouver.
It's here in the present where the battle for the future will be won and lost. Early episodes of Continuum seemed to struggle in finding their feet, opting to be a hum-drum police procedural with time travel overtones, rather than an Intriguing time travel action-mystery. It's around the episode four mark, where the show begins to resemble Battlestar Galactica's morally grey exploration of issues, that it truly becomes must watch television (a status maintained through it's run to the finale).
Science Fictions fans who missed it, or who gave up early on, should play the lottery as luck is on their side. Universal Studios released the full first season to both DVD and Blu-ray this week. If that seems like incredibly quick turnaround time, remember that the series debuted on Canadian TV back in the spring of 2012. Now fans can watch the show straight through, without the tedious interruption of weekly intervals. Even more critical to the flow of the show, the home release omits the confusingly askew commercial break structure suffered by American viewers (an effect of squeezing the square block of Canadian commercial structure through the round hole of the American format). The impact of this was dramatic pauses which faded to black then right back in, only to break again a minute or two later for advertisements directly in the middle of a scene.
The transfers on the Blu-ray are crystal clear, putting the broadcast clarity to shame. It's an obvious step up. The set earns a lesser grade than the series content deserves on account of it's startling lack of extras. It's only marginally more than barebones and the included feature, Meet the Makers, Protectors and Terrorists, is not slick or stylish like the show it accompanies. Feeling like it was quickly thrown together, this sequence of interviews is about as spunky as a corpse. With complete access to the cast, this could've been a cool peak behind the curtain, but sadly is not. The disappointing lack of commentary tracks of any sort cannot be overstated enough. There's no excuse for it in this day of modern home market releasing.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Saturday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famousColonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.