Continuum bunkers down in Vancouver

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      The CBC building on Hamilton Street is already better protected than the Pentagon. But security has been intensified in the past few weeks since Continuum moved into the bunkerlike complex, providing the wildly successful Showcase series with a base of operations and an appropriately sterile location for its second season, now in production.

      When the Straight visited the set last week, after pat downs, retinal scans, and a tracking device injected directly into the bloodstream, we got to see Alec Sadler’s new lab, built into the basement of the complex. It appears that the teenage supergenius, future CEO of SadTech, and Corporate Congress cofounder has upgraded from the barn he was operating out of in the first season.

      As for last year’s cliffhanger ending, in which Sadler unencrypts a message from his inscrutable future self, actor Erik Knudsen isn’t talking. “Once we come back, everything will be straightened out,” he states, unconvincingly. “Okay, not everything.”

      In reality, Knudsen actually declined a peek at the entire Continuum story arc offered to him by the show’s creator, Simon Barry. “Alec is not supposed to know. If I turn evil or if I turn good,.. I don’t want to know, ’cause it’ll be there in my performance,” he reasons. Rachel Nichols employs a similar need-to-know strategy for her character, the reluctant time traveller Kiera Cameron.

      “That’s kinda the rule with me,” she says, relaxing as well as she can between takes in the skintight copper suit that is, apparently, de rigueur for nano-enhanced cops from the year 2077. “I like to be surprised by the story. If it’s going to be a surprise for Kiera, it should be a surprise for Rachel. And then my brain doesn’t explode.”

      Speaking of exploding brains, series creator and real-life supergenius Barry explains that the first thing the Continuum creative team did after getting the green light was to establish the rules of time travel. The second thing was to figure out the ending—whenever that comes. “The trick will be filling in the middle,” says the executive producer, chuckling. “But we don’t know how long it’s going to take. Hopefully, a long time!”

      At the very least, there’s another 13 episodes between the debut of Continuum’s second season on April 21 and any possible conclusion to the series. More likely, Continuum—like The X-Files—is going to run and run. When the first-ever episode drew more than a million viewers last May, Showcase discovered that it had a phenomenon on its hands. “We got the numbers and they said: ‘You guys have doubled our expectations,’ ” Barry recalls. “When we heard that, we were like: ‘Great, how are we going to keep this up?’ ”

      They needn’t have worried. Continuum was picked up by the SyFy network, whereupon it attracted an obsessive fan base. You can credit the show’s slick execution for some of its success, but the larger component is the calibre of its ideas. Continuum asks you to consider how a global corporate oligarchy might have usurped democratic governments 60 years from now, while examining the righteousness of Cameron’s pursuit of “terrorist” organization Liber8. What makes the show fascinating is its determined ambivalence about everybody’s motivation: cop, freedom fighter, and corporate CEO alike.

      “We’re doing our jobs as storytellers because our characters are surviving in this place where they can have a point of view and an argument. As soon as you go off that, you’re just bad guys and good guys,” says Barry. “It’s boring.”