If You Love 12 Monkeys You Might Like Continuum
What is it about great time travel stories that are so popular? Everyone has their own personal favorites and reasons. I like how there’s so many ideas and ways that a story can be explored through time travel. It also captures my imagination seeing how directors and storytellers envision what the future has in store for humanity.
There are a tonne of time travel series going on right now. 12 Monkeys and Continuum are two different kinds of time travel shows. What they have in common is that they are both filmed in Canada and air on Syfy network.
I recently finished season 1 of 12 Monkeys. Currently it’s been renewed for a 3rd season. Continuum wrapped up its fourth and final season last year which I finished watching. For both series, time travel is interwoven into the storytelling from the very beginning. This is different from shows which introduce time travel midway through its run, sometimes undoing significant events or leading to mixed results.
Syfy’s 12 Monkeys is inspired by the short film La Jetée and Terry Gilliam’s neo noir science fiction movie of the same name. Like Gilliam’s movie, James Cole (Aaron Stanford) is sent back in time to find virologist Dr. Cassie Railly (Amanda Schull) in order to prevent a deadly plague from wiping out most of humanity. One difference from the movie is that the future time line from where Cole is from becomes a significant setting. The story is like a gigantic jig saw puzzle with many twists and turns that feel earned because the writers have carefully planned out the season in advance.
There are a couple of core themes which 12 Monkey uses time travel to explore in an interesting way. James Cole comes from a harsh post-apocalyptic future where everyone must scavenge and kill or be killed in order to survive. So when Cole time travels to the present day his sense of morality is that since everyone is already dead (due to the virus) he will kill those that get in the way of his mission. 12 Monkey pushes further the idea of sacrificing one to save many others by showing how characters on opposites sides of the moral spectrum gradually change their beliefs when someone they love and need to protect is introduced into their life.
The other aspect 12 Monkeys goes into is time travel paradoxes. Thinking about it too much is mentally exhausting. What I will say is that I like how 12 Monkeys’ story is constructed in a way which gets viewers to ask does free will exist or are events predestined? I also like how 12 Monkeys addresses what happens if the same object or person from two different time periods exists in the same time and space. To sum up, the writing is in good capable hands. 12 Monkeys tackles a lot of different issues and concepts regarding time travel.
One of the first things that I learned early in Continuum’s Season 1 is that Rachel Nichols is a capable lead actress. Nichols is believable as a strong, law enforcement officer Kiera Cameron who uses her wits and hi-tech weapons in the present day. Nichols also layers her character with an emotional vulnerability in desperately wanting to see her young son again in the future timeline where she is from. Cameron is almost like a superhero because her suit has many capabilities but the writing is smart not to over rely on it in the first season.
Continuum is timely because it shows us a near future where corporations rule the world, including controlling the police state. A terrorist group called Liber8 goes back in time to prevent this future from happening and Cameron is involuntarily transported with them. Liber8’s tactics are violent but their intent is actually for the good of humanity. Very few characters are portrayed in black and white terms. The same can be said for Cameron as it weighs on her for having to choose between the greater good and going back to the future to be with her family.
Of the many television shows filmed in Vancouver, Continuum is actually set in Vancouver. The show gets a lot of good production value out of being able to shoot in front of large open windows that look out on to real city streets and using practical lighting. For a conservatively budgeted show, the money is saved for some surprisingly good actions scenes and noticeable but passable CGI for Cameron’s flashbacks of the future.
Continuum is stronger when it focuses on the serialized drama rather than the cop procedural aspects. Not everything works about the show. I will say that going in I didn’t expect all that much from Continuum but I came away quite satisfied. If you are in the market for a sci-fi show that is centered on a lead female character then it’s worth giving it a try.
Are you a fan of 12 Monkeys or Continuum? What are you favorite time travel series or movies?
Posted on July 20, 2016, in Television, TV Reviews and tagged 12 Monkeys, 12 Monkeys Season 1 Review, Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Continuum, La Jetée, Rachel Nichols, Syfy, Television Reviews, Terry Gilliam. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.