The Origins of Continuum, Our New Favorite Time Travel Show

With tonight's episode, Continuum reaches the half-way point of its first season. Lucky Canadian viewers have gotten a cool dose of time travel, action, cyberpunk and zaniness, and hopefully we'll get to see it in the States at some point.

But how did Continuum come to exist? Was there a strange paradox involved? We asked the show's creator, Simon Barry, who also gave us some non-spoilery hints about where things are going. Plus some exclusive visual effects stills!

Warning: there are spoilers for the show's first four episodes below.

Where did the idea for Continuum come from? Was there a particular inspiration from science fiction, or real-life events?

A desire to blend scifi mythology (hard to sell but cool and a genre I love) with police procedural (easier to sell but safe and hard to twist.) Time travel was a great way to attach a larger mythology to a real world setting. Although the police/criminal structure is familiar, the backstory of 2077 and time travel makes the stakes higher, and allows for a layer of mystery that infects everything and allows for some grey areas philosophically. The universe just feels bigger without being weighed down by additional costs that make production prohibitive.

Was it difficult to pitch this show? Was there a lot of resistance to something so overtly science fictional, in an era where everything is about vampires and fairies?

The Origins of Continuum, Our New Favorite Time Travel Show

This opportunity really came out of left field for me. I had developed the idea for US networks (where I had been selling for several years, but not getting picked up) and before I got a chance to take Continuum out and pitch it, I was hired by CBS to write a different pilot. In the middle of that job, my Director friend Pat Williams took a meeting at Showcase Network in Canada and called me in a panic because he didn't have anything to pitch. I gave him the idea for Continuum to pass on to the executives there. They immediately saw the potential and hired me to write a pilot script. Because it was first set up with Showcase, there was much more of an appetite for Sci-Fi and genre bending concepts. Showcase really understood what the show could be from day one.

We meet Edouard Kagame, the leader of the Liber8 terrorists, right at the start of the pilot, and he's a fascinating character right off the bat. What's the reasoning behind waiting a few episodes to have him appear in 2012 and join the others?

Some of this impacts where Season one is heading, and I don't want to get into too many details. What I can say is we loved the idea of the gang arriving without their leader and dealing with the pressures of that. Also, knowing Kagame would approach the situation differently, allowed for Travis to take more drastic action that wouldn't compromise Kagame's philosophy. It also created the space for Kellog to find his way out of the gang. Any more details might be spoilers.

We loved the visuals of seeing through Kagame's eyes, with the city of the future fading into the Vancouver of 2012 as he orients himself. That's a really neat idea. Where did that come from?

The writing room is so dynamic and fast moving, I never remember where details like this come from, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was Sam Egan's idea as he was the writer of this episode and he's absolutely brilliant. Once Mike Rohl took over to direct the episode it became a real collaboration between the production team and Adam Stern at Artifex. Tony Amendola brought such a unique and honest emotion to the moment that really sold it. This was a great example of dedicated people all working towards a common creative vision. I'm very happy with the end result and the fan response.

What theory of time travel are you guys operating with? It seems like people can change the past, so the future Kiera comes from already no longer exists, the moment she goes back in time. Is that right? In that case, why does Old Alec seem to know that Kiera is going to travel back in time, in the pilot?

Answering this question would undermine some of the mystery we plan to unlock as we move deeper into the mythology and plot of the show and the larger universe of both time periods.

So far, we've heard a lot of talk about the evil corporate-dominated future and how oppressive it is, but we've only had one glimpse of actual oppression, when the soldiers break up the young Kagame's
peaceful meeting. Are we going to see more of why the corporations are so bad? How far can you go with that theme without being too political for some people?

The Origins of Continuum, Our New Favorite Time Travel Show

The intention was never to make the future so black and white. The future is as messed up as the present and the oppression is defined by those who are experiencing it first hand. Point of view and the variation of it, is essential to our characters backstory and process of discovery. 2012 could be seen by someone from 1947 as a dystopian corporate controlled future, yet we think of it as 'normal'.

How does a sweet kid like Alec grow up to become a corporate overlord anyway?

Sometimes being an innovator brings with it a destiny that has nothing to do with desire.

Are the Vancouver cops ever going to get wise to the fact that Kiera is obviously not who she claims to be? How long before Carlos, in particular, learns the real truth?

Let's save this question for after episode 10.

Is the show going to do more "case of the week" type stuff like the murder mystery this past week, or is the emphasis going to continue to be on the Liber8 group and their agenda?

Season one will be a good blend of everything the show can be.

And finally, if Liber8 does really start trying to change the future, how will they know if they've succeeded?

How indeed?

Continuum airs tonight at 9 PM on ShowCase in Canada — and hopefully at some point in the U.S.