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 I've been a fan of the TV show Continuum this season, and just watched the first episode of Defiance last night.

I’m voting for Continuum, big time. Why? Because it’s innovative and the main character is a strong female. And before you tell me that lots of shows feature strong female leads, be aware that I’m cranky on this subject. (Don’t get me started on shows like The Closer or Covert Affairs or even Fringe – )

That’s right, Fringe. It had a strong female lead, but only when convenient, if that makes sense. Our Olivia was amazing but broken and needed the healing love of – oh never mind. This is my gripe with JJ Abrams. He dares challenge traditional tropes, but in the moment of truth, he blinks. He let poor Sydney flounder (didn’t she look pretty in that notebook sketch, tho?), and Olivia too. They were his puppets, whereas the guys were – well, I’m pretty sure they were JJ Abrams. Which makes sense, since all creators do that to some extent, but still it can disappoint when promises are made. I want him to follow through on his original concepts, but so far, he takes them to a certain point, then starts backfilling in the form of mazelike diversions.

Please oh please don’t do this with

[Deep breath] Where was I? Oh right. Defiance follows the tradition of glorifying the strong-when-convenient female. It’s got the hooker with a heart of gold, and the erstwhile blonde bombshell who seems tough – right up until she gets flustered. Luckily, the hero’s there to bolster her, so she makes it through. It’s romantic, but it’s not what it pretends to be.

So no. Defiance isn’t the one true show. Not even close.

Meanwhile, Continuum rocks. Is it perfect? No. It’s a time-travel story that doesn’t have a perfect handle on time travel theory; and worse, takes the easy way out by saying “whoops, it turns out, TT isn’t that important in this particular scene.” This would ordinarily bother me, but given everything else about the show, I’m willing to give it a temporary pass, pending another attempt at nailing the issues in question.

Why? Because the show offers something I’ve never -- or at least, rarely -- seen on TV . A strong female lead who doesn’t lose her focus; doesn’t manipulate men with her girlish charms (she reasons with them and if that doesn’t work, or there isn’t time, she levels a stare and a weapon at them); and most amazingly, she questions the perfection of the men in her life no matter how hunky they are. And trust me, they are hunky.

I’m proud of her. I personally wouldn’t be able to resist those guys, but she does it because she has to. Because that’s her job, a.k.a., the plot! She’s actually the heroine.

Add to that the fact that Continuum takes its law enforcement and social dynamics seriously. It also gives us a compelling main plot while hinting at bigger, more amazing undercurrents. It makes promises, and seems to have the chops to keep them.

In contrast, Defiance doesn’t “hint.” It clobbers us with at least a dozen burning questions that we are supposed to find provocative.  It’s a subtle difference – okay, not really, but I’m trying to be nice.

Don’t get me wrong – I’d like to see both programs succeed. My world needs more sci-fi. But I don’t remember a lot of promo on Continuum, whereas Defiance is getting a ton. And frankly, Defiance may be more flashier, but so far, it hasn’t show me anything new.

It’s got the aforementioned hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold and her strong but flustered sister – both of whom have chemistry with the male protagonist; various aliens; mech-type villains; white-haired, pale eyed villains; a Romeo and Juliet situation; badlands; a reluctant sheriff;  a force field that fails when needed; old world western weapons and clothing, but also high tech weapons and clothing, depending on the situation; an alien doctor with quippy lines; a backstory about an invasion and the scrappy heroes who resisted it; a terra-formed Earth that still has the ultimate saccharine symbol of America amidst the rubble… and more! And I’m just describing Episode One! Amazing, right?

Oh, let’s face it – it’s stew.

Maybe even good stew. But why is it getting all the hype? Why can’t we give equal time to a strong female lead, time travel (albeit imperfect), and an intelligent storyline that isn’t obfuscated by the need to use every trope in the book?

So let’s all watch Continuum. Build up those ratings! And let’s watch Defiance too, because it might turn awesome. But given the dynamic, I’m guessing it’s never going to achieve depth. And for TV sci-fi these days, depth would simply be awesome.

P.S. A huge shout out to Canada, since I understand CONTINUUM is a Canadian show. Nice work! Of course, I also loved your Poltergeist TV series way back when, so I’m hopeless. But you know how to reach for the stars, that’s for sure.

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
mizkit
Apr. 17th, 2013 07:52 am (UTC)
I have only watched the first episode of Continuum, which I quite liked. I will now watch all of it. <3
katedonovan
Apr. 19th, 2013 02:18 am (UTC)
yay!
msbhaven
Apr. 20th, 2013 11:02 pm (UTC)
Defiance reminds me of dystopian, alien riddled Eureka. I watched. I might watch it again. I stopped watching Fringe because it reminded me too much of LOST-X-Files kinda show.

I'm going to give Defiance a chance.
katedonovan
Apr. 21st, 2013 10:57 pm (UTC)
I'm going to give it a chance too. It had some charm (especially once I realized the girl was his daughter not his girlfriend!) Oh, and we started watching that Hemlock series on Netflix. So far (after three episodes) I love it, so it looks like supernatural and futuristic are staying strong.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 14th, 2015 05:02 pm (UTC)
Did you see Nolan in Continuum? He's one of the super robot soldiers in the beginning. They call him Nolan. Are the two shows linked?
(Anonymous)
Sep. 14th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
Never mind, my sister says I'm crazy and he's not the same guy.
katedonovan
Sep. 14th, 2015 06:38 pm (UTC)
The crazy part is, I gave up on CONTINUUM after the third season when I thought the multiple time-travel threads were ruining what I liked about it. I've wondered if I should try it again but I'm so picky about time travel and this one did it so superbly the first season. Hmm... thanks for reminding me how much I really did love it for a while!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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