Review: The Man in the High Castle, season 4

The Man in the High Castle, season 4, brought the long sci fi saga of a multiverse of worlds to an end. The world most of the story sits firmly in is where the US lost WWII and Germany and Japan have divided the former US between them.

If you’re reading this, I assume you’ve watched earlier seasons of the series and I don’t need to explain the premise behind this science fiction thriller here.

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3 Reasons to Catch up on Continuum

Are you a fan of Continuum? If not, I’m here to convert you.

First, check out this extended preview of season 3, episode 1. It’s from Showcase, the Canadian source of the show. The series is set in Vancouver. It appears on SyFy in the U.S, where season 3 just began airing.

If this show passed you by, here are three big reasons to catch up with Continuum and continue to watch the new episodes.

1. Rachel Nichols Stars

That’s right, a female led science fiction tale. This one is a time travel story. Rachel Nichols stars as Kiera Cameron, who comes from 65 years in the future. In her own time, she has a husband and son to whom she wants desperately to return.

Rachel Nichols in Continuum
Rachel Nichols in her Continuum body suit.

Part of her life as a law enforcement officer from the future is the marvel of a body suit she wears that connects her to any information she needs and is a nerdgasm of awesome tech.

2. It’s Action Packed and Future Techy

When she arrives in our time, Kiera becomes a cop who astounds everyone in the department because she seems to know things no one else knows. Her cop partner in this timeline is played by Victor Webster. Her boss is a cranky Brian Markinson. (Brian Markinson seems to fill every casting niche when a cranky boss is needed.)

Victor Webster and Rachel Nichols in Continuum
Victor Webster and Rachel Nichols in Continuum

Part of the reason she knows everything is her body suit, and the other part is that she is connected to Alec Sadler. In the future, Alec Sadler is rich and part of the corporation. He invents the time machine. In our time, he is a young computer genius played by Erik Knudsen who tries to help Kiera and tries to figure out why his future self sent her back to him. His computers are in her head.

There are terrorists from a group called Liber8 who want to free themselves from the corporation. One of my favorite leaders of Liber8 is played by Roger Cross. Other time travelers also want to change the future, or, like Kiera, return to the future they once had without causing any changes.

3. The Themes and Issues are Relevant

In the future, there is no government, there is only the corporation. How’s that for an important and topical theme?  As we come closer and closer to a money-run country rather than a democratic country, story lines dealing with all aspects of what this means are worth exploring.

If you want to catch up and have to pay to do it, season 1 is better than season 2. The idea that there was no government, only the corporation, was a big part of season 1. In season 2, the stories were more about the police chasing the terrorists who are out to change the future – in other words, more police procedural and less time travel and sci fi. As you saw in the video above from episode 1 of season 3, there may be a return to the high tech, time travel, roots of the story in season 3. Season 3 is just starting on SyFy on Friday nights.

How to Catch Up

The first two seasons are available on Netfix. For those of you with access to Netflix, you’re golden.

At the Continuum channel on YouTube, you can catch up on episodes from season 1 and 2 at $1.99 per episode. It’s also $1.99 per episode on Amazon Prime, with the entire season going for $14.99.  That’s cheaper than the iTunes price, which is $2.99 per episode.

SyFy has a few videos, but not full episodes.

A Season One 101 photo gallery at SyFy contains 20 photos with descriptions that can help you understand what is going on in the story and who a lot of the characters are. Speaking of photo galleries, check out this Pinterest Continuum board.

[Note: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.]

Continuum Images © 2013 Syfy Media

Orphan Black explores the question of who owns a woman’s body

Tatiana Maslany recently gave an interview to TV Guide. They were talking to her about her upcoming role as Aziz Ansari’s love interest on Parks and Recreation, but the conversation quickly turned to Orphan Black and clones.

In the final episode of season one on Orphan Black, the clone Cosima, a scientist, does some binary decoding and discovers a patent is listed in the DNA of the clones. They are the “property” of Neolution.

Tatiana Maslany as the clones
Tatiana Maslany as the clones

TV Guide asked about that.

At the end of Season 1, we learned that the clones are actually trademarked, so will the question of freedom be a running theme in Season 2?

Tatiana Maslany: It resonates differently for each of them. There’s something about that idea of ownership over your body that I feel is quite resonant to women. It’s so interesting that it’s in the context of clones, but it’s all women dealing with this idea of, “Do I own my body? Is my body mine? Who am I if I don’t own my body? Who am I if somebody else has decided all this stuff?” I think Sarah is a fiercely rebellious person, so anybody putting her in a box is when she’ll lose her sh–. Cosima is fascinated with this concept because of the science of it and because of the way that she can break things down and understand them better. Alison bought into it. It’s cool that they all deal with it very differently.

In the current political climate in the United States, where right wing activists are pushing bills through state legislatures that take away women’s rights to govern their own bodies, this is a particularly interesting topic for a TV show to take on. I cannot wait to see how the issue is dealt with in the fictional world of Orphan Black.

The value of science fiction

The value of science fiction is that it lets us take a look at issues and talk about them in a place away from an emotionally fraught reality.

On the SyFy channel, Continuum is doing something similar to Orphan Black, but on a different topic. Season 1 of Continuum describes the premise best. (It gets lost in the action a bit in season 2.) Here’s the premise. The show opens in a world 65 years in the future. There is no illusion of government left, there is only the corporation. THE corporation. The corporation rules the world for its own good.

Several people from this world get sent back in time, including the series star Rachel Nichols. She plays Kiera Cameron, a cop in the future who falls into a role as a cop here in our time. She is desperate to get back to her own time and her family. Many of the people who traveled back in time a part of an organization called Liberate which is trying to prevent the corporation from rising to power. Kiera wants to prevent this because she thinks it will change the future and her chances of being reunited with her family will be lost. It’s an Occupy movement story, a 99% story, using time travel as the vehicle.

These are two important issues. Do you find that thinking about things like this in relation to a fictional world like Orphan Black or Continuum has an effect on how you feel about such issues in the real world?

Images ©BBC America.