Tonight sees the launch of Continuum on the UK’s Syfy Channel and much like Lost Girl before it. Continuum is another science fiction show from Canada, which we are getting to see before the Americans.
I was recently given the opportunity to discuss this new series, which is a blend of police procedural and time travel story with series creator Simon Barry, who was kind enough to fill us in on the show.
Continuum stars Rachel Nichols and the pilot, which airs tonight at 10PM includes an impressive cast made up of some popular names from the science fiction genre. Tonight’s show features a guest appearance by William B. Davis aka The Smoking Man from the classic Fox series X – Files.
SFP: How did Continuum come about and what was the inspiration behind the premise of the series?
Simon Barry: It was really a challenge for me for many years to get some of my ideas sold on television networks, but I’ve realized I was probably tying to hard to push ideas into a direction, which were probably a little limited.
I was motivated originally by taking two genres and blending them, which was sort of a Sci-Fi driven show and a police procedural. And I felt that that was strictly from a business point of view was something that was a better attempt.
Being a Sci-Fi fan myself I wanted to build a mythology that would fit into the box that TV needs to be. So a Police story merged with a Sci-Fi mythology felt like a really good opportunity for a Sci-Fi fantasy to get out what I wanted to do, but also because it was built around a police procedural it could be structured in a way that TV Networks were a little more comfortable with.
That was the beginning of it and then I really just got down into building the circumstances and the characters and the rest sort of took care of itself.
SFP: When I first heard of the series It was sold to me as Time Trax Meets Time Cop. Would you say that is a good way to describe the series?
Simon Barry: Well I haven’t seen Time Trax. I was never really exposed to that show growing up. So I’m not super familiar with it, but Timecop certainly I remember that movie vividly. When I was a camera man I worked on it. So I’m quite familiar with that movie, but the idea of a time traveling police officer is very obvious I think.
I wanted to do things a little bit different to what Timecop had done because in a lot of these time travel scenarios the heroes are actually willing participants in the time travel insofar as they have a goal and a mission.
In this case none or our main characters are operating under the idea that they are controlling or desiring this. Kiera in particular. Our hero the cop is really just an unwitting victim of this circumstance. So she has to really treat this situation much more like someone who’d been stranded on a desert island rather than someone with a mission that has been handed down where they know they are traveling through time and know that they have these things to do. Which I believe in Timecop was really what was driving the idea forward.
So on the one hand I guess you could say that there are comparisons, but from a story telling point of view this is very different in the sense that our main characters are not really prepared for this adventure and it’s all a bit of a surprise to them.
SFP: You have a lot of very well known genre names involved with this series. The pilot episode has a pretty pivotal guest role from William B. Davis. Will we see him again other than in the pilot?
Simon Barry: Yes, I don’t want to spoil it either, but William Davis character is certainly someone who they will see in the first episode and I can promise that they will see him again before the end of the season. He’s someone who is integral to the shows mythology.
It’s wonderful to work with someone who comes from that great tradition of The X-Files. I can also say that we’ll have other actors from the X-Files who will appear later on in the season.
SFP: From what have seen of the series have noticed that your villains, who are a terrorist cell are not necessarily really the typical black hat bad guys.
Simon Barry: One of the fun things about this show is because we are dealing with two time frames the perspective of what people are doing is radically effected by the world that they are coming from.
One of the things that we wanted to do was create a show where things were never black and white on any level. That there was always this grey area of reality and perspective and that you could really see everything from two sides and I think that is what keeps the show fresh from the point of view of making it, but also from an audience point of view there’s a great debate who is the good guy and who is the bad guy and I think that is a healthy debate, and its kind of fun to see people react to what we’ve portrayed to be the good guys and the bad guys of the future, but also the reverse in the present and how those different perspective on things can effect the way that people root for characters in the show. We certainly seen that in Canada where the so called Terrorist developed their own following and people felt that they were in the right, but felt the police were in the wrong and kind of had to wake up to that fact.
We’ve taken great steps not to make anything so clearly back and white so that people can have those discussions.
SFP: Continuum is another series with a very strong female lead character. Was that your intention from the start to have a female lead in the show or did that just happen during the evolution of the writing process?
Simon Barry: When I pitched the show originally as just a short document. I had a male in that part, but in my first discussions with Showcase about the show and moving it forward. The idea of Kyle at the time became Kiera and at the time I immediately embraced it and thought for audiences that it would be a much more interesting perspective to tell the story from her point of view than his.
So it was probably the first collaboration with the network in terms of a major idea that was presented and it was one of those eureka moments when you say, ‘Of course. Why didn’t I do that in the first place.’ In definitely helped ground the show in a way that emotionally was a little more direct than it would have been had we had a male in the lead.
So I’m really happy with that decision and I’m really happy that we were able to execute it in such a way that we’d understand this character better.
Continuum premiers in the UK tonight at 10PM on Syfy Channel. So be sure not to miss it.
By Ian M. Cullen