Premiered January 14 at 8pm
This Canadian series started last May on Showcase and now finally arrives to the U.S. on a fitting home, Syfy. American audiences will recognize Rachel Nichols, from season five of “Alias” and other work, in the lead role of Kiera, the cop who has the unfortunate luck of being transported back to 2012 from the future without the hope of a return ticket. The show’s bleak opening provided an intriguing look at a dystopian future, hardly the glamorously decrepit world briefly seen in “Terra Nova” or other series, but still a pessimistic look at what might happen if corporations took over the world. The notion of terrorism and freedom fighting is definitely interesting, though I think that grounding the show in the future rather than in the present might have made that angle more effective. It turned out to be remarkably easy for Kiera to get herself confirmed as a cop with little to no evidence or knowledge to support her story, and I hope that this doesn’t devolve into a generic cop show. Nichols is a good actress, but she’s a bit too frenetic and excitable for this role. I’m more impressed with Erik Knudsen, who previously starred on “Jericho,” as Alec, the inventor of the technology used by Kiera. I particularly like his theories about the space-time continuum, which I think is one aspect this show will handle well. More importantly, what could be better than revealing that Alec’s future self is none other than the Cigarette-Smoking Man, better known as William B. Davis. He’s an intimidating presence just by himself, and he looked awfully pleased that the prisoners were able to time-travel, which suggests a sinister role in things. This pilot didn’t wow me, but it’s probably worth a second shot, and it’s the kind of show that ideally should be right up my alley.
How will it work as a series? It’s not entirely clear since stranding characters in a time not their own often leads to a lack of finite direction. I think that having Kiera adjust to her new life should prove interesting on one level, and learning about the timeline from Alec should be interesting on another level. Showing snippets of the future can’t hurt either, since that’s the more intriguing setting.
How long will it last? In August, this show was renewed by Showcase for a second season. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will air in the U.S., since there have been a number of cases where poor stateside performance has meant the death of a show, even cancelling its second season in its home country. Given that the pilot didn’t attract too many voters, I wouldn’t count on this being a hit in the U.S. A second showing should seal its fate, so we’ll have to see how it does on Monday.
Pilot grade: B