Saturday, January 17, 2015

Netflixing & Continuum ...a bit of the old timey-wimey + corpy-worpy!

We're on our first month of Netflixing, and discovering all manner of delights! We've binge-watched the first season of True Detective - a cop series with a difference. Leading actors will change season by season. First season of 8 episodes starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson - a wonderful pairing of two superb actors.

We occasionally dip into first season of the long-running medical series, Grey's Anatomy. One episode at a time is quite enough for me of any hospital centred series, this one included. It's just so-so for me, but audiences must have absolutely loved it - it survived for 11 seasons!

My favourite discovery, so far, is Canadian sci-fi series, Continuum. I'd never heard of it, didn't expect much, but it didn't take long to realise that this is an intelligent piece of quality writing. Time travel is the series' main theme, with aspects of politics, friendship, family relationships closely intertwined.

Continuum is good in every respect, but the political slant, in tandem with time travel, is what is fascinating me most. Series creator is Simon Barry, a British born Canadian. A quick look at his noon natal chart (25 September 1966) shows a Libra Sun and Mercury; Venus conjunct Uranus/Pluto in Virgo; and Moon in Aquarius (whatever his time of birth). What a great combination for a science fiction writer!

The story's setting is Vancouver, initially in the year 2077, on November 5 in fact. The city, and presumably the country (maybe also the world, or at least North America), are governed by the corporations. A towering skyscraper housing the corporate congress has been blown-up resulting in many thousands of deaths. Perpetrators were Liber-8, a group of eight freedom fighters - or terrorists - depending on one's point of view. They are caught and ready to be executed in a high-tech communal execution chamber.

One female police officer is detailed to stand close, as guard. Seconds before the execution is carried out a blinding flash... when the screen clears those about to be executed, and the police officer, have disappeared.

We then find ourselves with the police officer, Kiera, as she finds she, and Liber-8 have been hurtled back 65 years to 2012. She looks distinctly out of place in her high-tech police uniform in Vancouver's streets, 2012.

That's how the story begins. After the first couple of episodes we began to wonder if this was going to be our cup of tea after all, or was it a series created for more conservative-leaning viewers who consider a city, country or world world totally run by corporations could be a good thing? After all, it seemed we were being led to see Kiera, avid supporter and defender of a corporate police state, as our heroine, with those painted as bad guys being the ones fighting an oppressive corporate oligarchy. Liber-8 might now have an opportunity to crush 2077's corporate governance in its infancy, if they can steer clear of Kiera.
Kiera manages to infiltrate a local police department to aid her search for the "terrorists", and her equally important aim of returning to 2077, her husband and family.

Simon Barry has said, in interview:
...."Our goal was to create a group of points of view. From our point of view Kiera is the lead because she is driving a lot of the storytelling perspective. That’s not to say Kiera is the emotional or political nexus of the show. Her journey is one of discovery; it is one of change. Therefore this grey area is not designed for Kiera but for the audience. Kiera has entered a world that we’re more familiar with than she is. That’s an advantage because now your main character is coming from a point of view that she’s open to new ideas, to a journey and exploration, and education. The audience is set in their ways in how they see the world that their living in at that moment. If the show can at all change the way people perceive things or force them to experience something through a different perspective then we’ve accomplished something small but important in terms of the themes of the show. We’ve always looked at those grey areas as being something that you define not that we define. We wanted to put everything out there in a way that felt more honest. There’s no all good and all evil. But there are always shades of grey and if you look around the world you’ll know that there is.”
It's this "grey area" that makes the series special, for those interested in politics and history. The corporate society of 2077 is controlled in every aspect of life and strictly policed. A liberated future, in 2035, of which we are given a glimpse later in the series, is a dark and dirty shamble of freedom with widespread horrendous abuse. Neither of those futures would be desirable.

 Rachel Nichols & Eric Knudsen (Kiera & Alec Sadler - the two key characters )

There's lots of other good stuff too, besides the political angle. My single criticsim of the series is that the fight scenes, roughly one per episode, are too long.

Rachel Nichols who plays Kiera said about her part in the series:
"Portraying someone who is unfamiliar with the present day requires playing a mental mind trick on oneself............ We try to find those little areas and nuances where her futureness can come out - whether she doesn’t know what the Bat signal means, , or she can’t drive a car, or she’s amazed by running water, or she has never seen a horse before. We find those moments and keep that thread going throughout the show.”
I don't want to give away more of the themes, twists and surprises, which do increase in complexity as the show develops. One mustn't become distracted from concentrating on the screen for even a few seconds. We have had to re-wind several times to make sure what was going on and why!

This must surely be one show that is far better watched several episodes at a sitting as we are doing. With a week's wait between episodes I'd have probably given up on it quite quickly. Simon Barry has mentioned, in that regard, that writers these days do have to bear in mind that they may be writing for two distinct audiences: those who watch episodes on TV weekly, as aired, and those who watch the series in larger chunks (binge-watching) via Netflix and similar outlets.

We're into season 3 now... and, so far, are feeling thoroughly confused! A layer of complexity is added to the already complex mix. Now, as well as a different timeline unfolding we have Freelancers, an ages old/ages new group or sect whose sole purpose is to act as guardians for the correct (as they see it) unfolding of time. They aim to prevent "glitches" and stop those whose purpose in time travel is likely to cause change and disruption.

In the episode we watched last night a company called Sonmanto was manufacturing, and selling chemical these letters to make a familiar word or name!

People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... timey wimey... stuff.

There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a stick.

          ~ Steven Moffat (Quotes from Doctor Who)

NOTE: For anyone who'd like more detail on Continuum's themes, there's a good piece with lots of photos and spoilers HERE.
There's also a good review of the opening episode of Season 3 at The Disgruntled Individual blog HERE


Sonny G said...

Glad to hear ya'll are enjoying your netflix experience..
We have truly loved having it for the last 5 years..
It's surely a great way to see shows you might have missed or never had access to in the past.
We are hooked on the documentaries and animal shows..

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ It's a new (to us) way of accessing older, non-current shows.
'Til now we've relied on VCR tapes and DVDs to do this, rented or bought used on e-bay or in junk stores. This way makes things so much easier!

Lots still to explore and sample!

mike said...

Good to know you are getting your $7.99-worth of viewing! There's another sci fi on Netflix coming this year, "Sense8". Have you seen "Orange is the New Black"? "House of Cards"? BBC's "Sherlock" is available on Netflix, too, I believe. I assume that you and anyjazz are streaming Netflix on your Roku.

A week ago, my sister and brother-in-law shipped a flat-screen TV and Roku to me!!! They bought a large-screen, smart TV that does everything and more. So, I'm enthralled and amazed after being thrown into the 21st century...LOL.

I've been researching the difference between the Roku streaming options, which are wide and many. No to Hulu (they show commercials); Netflix is possible; HBO or Showtime is very possible, but aren't available for streaming without a cable subscription first. HBO will start independent streaming in April.

I'm definitely enjoying the free stuff available on my Roku. I like Pandora for music.

mike (again) said...

My previous comment, I assumed you are streaming on Roku. Are you pleased with your Roku and, if so, are you canceling your cable subscription?

Sonny G said...

oh yes yes yes.. I agree with Mike-- orange is the new black and house of cards are must sees,, both are great~!
also amazons new one Transparent is fabulous..
you and AJ are going to be completely entertained..sohappy for ya'll..
Mike- wowzers, you scored with that gift from your sis..enjoy

can ya'll tell I'm a tv fanatic lol. its my company day and night since I am here alone living and working 80% of the time..Believe it or not 2 of my 3 pom girls also like watching. when I turn on anything with wolves or dogs in it, they sit on the hassock and look straight at the tv , then do the "head tilt" thing , lol lol, so funny to watch them.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Thanks for the recommendation and review. Coincidentally, I'm off to the library today to pick up my requested copy of another movie you recommended a while back ~ will let you know what we think.

Have you ever seen the BBC series, "Crantor"? My husband and I loved it. Another series we enjoyed was "Top of the Lake", though I'm pretty sure I already mentioned it.

Reading everyone's comments, I'm reminded how grateful I am we have easy access to a well-stocked public library where we can rent movies and books free of charge ~ wish more folks (especially poorer ones living in rural areas of the US) had access to the same.

I'm sure we're not alone in that our budget doesn't allow for certain extras. Think I'd go crazy if I had to depend on regular TV to inform and entertain.

mike ~ Enjoy your gifts!

Twilight said...

mike ~ Oh good! So happy you're equipped for 21st century viewing now, mike! We've arrived fairly late in the game too, but none the worse for it. :-)

We saw House of Cards on DVD some time back - both the British version and US versions. Both v. good. Haven't seen Orange is the New Black - honestly, I don't fancy it at all. There was a series with a similar theme on British TV years ago and I didn't enjoy it.
We haven't sampled Sherlock yet - will do so one of these days.

We're like kids in a candy store!

I'll investigate Sense8 and Transparent. Can't get enough sci-fi, dystopia, time travel etc.

Yes we're using Roku to access Netflix. Roku has performed very well - no complaints at all so far. We can get into HBO via Roku at present because we haven't yet cancelled our cable HBO subscription. We viewed HBO offerings for a few nights but concluded that Netflix covers most of the same and so much more.

As Sonny advised me a short while ago, if we were going to have just one, Netflix is favourite. We're happy with Netflix, feel no need to expand any further (yet).

We haven't watched anything requiring a separate fee - and shall not unless exceptionally keen to see something, new or old, with a fee attached.

We've kept putting off cancelling our cable subscription, wanting to make sure it's the right thing to do. Decided last night that it must be done. We hardly ever watch available channels other than TCM occasionally and the odd movie or drama on HBO (when they deign to change their schedule). Never watch TV news. We do need the weather news on TV though - for local area in tornado time. So we'll go for the most basic economical package Cableone has available, which will include local channels.

Happy onward viewing all!

Twilight said...

LB ~ "Crantor"? - I wonder if you're thinking of "Cranford"? Yes, we saw that when it was aired on PBS a couple or so years ago...and a sequel. We enjoyed it a lot. "Top of the Lake" we haven't seen yet - that's one I shall have to look for via Netflix.

Your library sounds to be a wonderful service for local people - long may it survive!

Twilight said...

LB - Re "Cranford" - It's mentioned in this post from 2010

LB said...

Lol! Yes, I meant "Cranford" not Crantor. Mercury retrograde's shadow? Whatever the reason, my old noggin's not what it used to be.

Thanks for the link!

LB said...

Twilight ~ Just found the sequel's title ("Return To Cranford").

Thanks again for mentioning it, the hubby will be happy as am I. I'll put in a request for it during today's library trip.

mike (again) said...

Twilight, previously, I had only the airwave stations ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. The new TV allows me to still have my airwave TV antenna for all the local stuff and I simply push one of the buttons on the TV's remote to switch to Roku (or cable, etc.). No need for cable here. There are also several free weather channels on Roku. Maybe you don't have local stations available over the air?

Sonny & LB - thanks...I'm like Twilight...I feel like a kid in the candy store, too. I've been staying up late viewing my vastly expanded TV-streaming world. I had an old clunker 23" TV prior (with the old, large picture tube, no less) and I'm so visually entranced by the beautiful colors and much larger screen size on this flat screen, super lightweight TV. Wonderful stereo sound...I've been streaming some of my fav Youtube music videos and it's like I've not heard them before (I previously watched-listened on my notebook computer). Such a world of difference now.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ I went to Wiki to see what "Transparent" is all about and realised that we have seen all the 1st season - I think during our Amazon Prime free trial month before Christmas. I'd forgotten the title. It's very good, yes - and funny. We enjoyed.

mike (again) said...

Well, I took the plunge and joined Netflix tonight. One series that caught my eye is the British production, "Black Mirror" is dystopic:

Twilight said...

mike ~ Good-o !! I haven't noticed that one on our treks through what's available. Will take a look tomorrow night. We've come to the end of season 3 "Continuum". The final season of 6 more episodes is yet to be aired.

We watched the first 21 min episode of "Parks and Recreation" tonight - just a goofy light-hearted dig at corporations and city planners from the looks of it - but quite inoffensive.