Thus is the situation facing Raegan (Melanie Merkosky) on the science fiction web series Continuum. With only the aforementioned computer as a companion, which quickly transforms its voice into a more adult female (Taryn O’Neill) at Raegan’s request, this solitary survivor must piece together the mystery of not only what her mission entails but who she is as well. Small clues amongst her belongings offer insight, including a video of her with a man she apparently loves, but the proceedings become even more cryptic when it turns out she is not alone after all. A man named Tipton (Brad Hawkins) is also onboard, and although the computer initially insists he is dead, it is soon revealed that he is very much alive. Tipton likewise has no memory but Raegan recognizes him from her video as the man with whom she was once romantically involved. The computer, however, insists that Tipton is a mercenary sent to kill Raegan.
Who should Raegan trust in such a situation? With no memory to guide her, she must walk a balancing act of relying on the computer as well as Tipton for answers. But which one is telling the truth? The computer has already given misinformation after all, insisting that Raegan is the only living human onboard the spaceship despite the presence of Tipton. Tipton, meanwhile, maintains that he means Raegan no harm, but his memory is lacking in the same way as hers. The video that she found amongst her possessions suggests that the two were once lovers, but is that enough for Raegan to put her life in Tipton’s hands and trust him?
Each episode of Continuum inevitably reveals a new piece to the puzzle, giving the web series an element of intellectual suspense to go along with its sci-fi storyline. Keeping the action within the closed confines of the ship augments the urgency of the narrative, as does the additional component of being literally lost in space. Raegan herself is just as lost of course, with no memory to guide her or anyone that she can absolutely trust and confide in. All of these elements ultimately combine to make Continuum an amalgamation of fear and confusion, mystery and intrigue, as well as a slow-burning thriller wrapped within a science fiction shell. The titles of each episode allude to sci-fi endeavors of the past, such as “Two Close Encounters” and “The Ex-Terminator.” While Continuum itself does not pay specific homage to such classics, the web series still contains the same sense of urgency and uncertainty—and the ability to keep viewers on the edge of their seat as the narrative unfolds—that the best of the genre has always exhibited.
“I’m a big sci-fi fan and have been my entire life,” creator Blake Calhoun explained to Jump Ship Productions in regards to the inspiration for Continuum. “So writing a sci-fi script was something I had wanted to do for a while. But beyond that, for practical reasons, I looked for a way to affordably produce a sci-fi show and thought of setting it inside one location—almost like a horror film that is set in one house or cabin. I also liked the idea of only having a few characters in the story, not only for story reasons, but again, being pragmatic to make it affordable to produce. The other inspiration would be that most sci-fi these days is apocalyptic, end-of-times kind of things, usually set on a dying or destroyed planet—not set in space. I liked the idea of this show being set in space, on a spaceship, traversing the universe.”
Despite the inherent simplicity of both the standalone set and limited number of characters, Blake Calhoun was still able to craft an original narrative with Continuum that contains the basic ingredients of great storytelling. The spaceship is both realistic in design and believable in terms of execution, while actors Melanie Merkosky, Brad Hawkins and Taryn O’Neill bring the right balance of curiosity and uncertainty to the proceedings. And although the plot itself could likewise be considered “simplistic,” the slow peeling away of the many layers that surround the central mystery adds to the enjoyment and entertainment value of the web series. Continuum may not break new ground within the sci-fi genre, but it delivers nonetheless.
The 1950s is often seen as the Golden Age of Science Fiction, with such novelists as Ray Bradbury and films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet hitting the mainstream. The debut of Star Wars in 1977 and re-emergence of Star Trek shortly thereafter, meanwhile, initiated another era of science fiction creativity. Although sci-fi continues to be a popular genre on both the big and small screen, it is within the web series medium that the best science fiction of the Twenty First Century appears to be gravitating. Creations such as Pioneer One, The Mercury Men and Aidan 5 are the sci-fi classics of a new era, and Continuum continues that trend as it adds its name to the growing list of endeavors that encompass a new Golden Age of Science Fiction.
For fans of the web series medium in general and sci-fi in particular, what more could they possibly ask?
Anthony Letizia (December 3, 2012)