If you’re a serious science fiction fanatic then you’re part of a passionate, but underserved group of TV watchers. Science fiction is all but gone from television and, outside of Doctor Who, the few true sci-fi shows which do manage to remain on the air are pale imitations of the genre’s former glory.
You have a choice: Sit around waiting for the networks to wake up and give you what you want, or start looking elsewhere. We’ve decided on the latter and plan to bring you along with us as we blast through alternative distribution channels in search of an alternative to the science fiction we no longer have on television.
Our first Sci-Fi Surrogate is a new web series called Continuum. Set in an indeterminately dated future, this new web series details what happens when a girl named Raegan wakes up in deep space aboard a space ship, and can’t remember a thing. Her only companion is the ship’s computer who, as luck would have it, doesn’t remember much about who they are or how they got their either.
Watch the first, 5-minute episode of Continuum right here…
The amnesiac wakes up aboard a spaceship premise is, admittedly, a bit of a cliche but Continum’s first season hints at the possibility that they might do something different with it. Besides, this is one cliche that’s never really been done in a serialized format. It seems worth exploring.
Whether they’re doing a good job of exploring it is, I suppose, a different matter. First the good: The show is filmed on an actual set. That might seem like a given, but most science fiction themed webseries’ opt for virtual sets, which means actors pantomiming in front of a greenscreen. Virtual sets are fine in small doses but they’re just not quite as good as having actual walls built up around you. Continuum’s production team does that, and for the most part does a good job of it. Though it might have been nice if they’d put a little more thought into building their spacecraft’s bridge. Really guys? A couple of desk chairs? Even on a budget, you can do better.
Aside from production miscues the biggest problem with most web productions is acting. Because they don’t have much of a budget web programming ends up settling for whoever they can get in front of the camera, and most of the time those people can’t act. I’m not going to try and convince you that Continuum’s lead actress, Melanie Merkowsky, is Hollywood ready. She is, however, at least a little better than the average idiot reciting his lines like he’s reading off cue cards.
In a sense her in-front of camera awkwardness almost works with the story, since Melanie is playing someone lost and confused. There’s something about her look too, she’s pretty, but not Hollywood hot. Melanie seems like she could just as easily be the second hottest girl working at your local grocery store’s checkout counter, and that adds an air of reality to an otherwise unreal situation.
Really the biggest problem with Continuum isn’t its budget or the flaws of its lead actress, its the way they’ve chosen to edit it together. Because they’re working on a non-existent budget each episode of the show runs around 5-minutes long. Unfortunately the story they’re telling doesn’t really lend itself to these incredibly short chapters. That wouldn’t be a problem, since you can rent the entire first season all at once, but they’ve decided to keep the chapter divisions in there even when you’re watching them back to back all at once. It’s annoying and mostly unnecessary. I don’t need to watch the show’s title credits ten-times during the 41-minutes I spend watching it. Hey Continuum, consider editing those out for everyone who picks up the full first season as a finished prouduct.
Continuum, like almost any web series produced on a non-existent budget, has its problem. But its no worse than Falling Skies, the only real science fiction program currently airing on television, and its trying harder. Best of all it’s cheap. You can rent the entire first season for $3.99 and have it streaming on your computer in under three-minutes.
Get all 41-minutes of Continuum season one, every episode, right here…
Look for Continuum season 2 coming some time during the fall of this year.