Rachel Nichols has a challenge for you. The actress, who has appeared in such things as Star Trek, Alias and Criminal Minds, believes you'll have a specific reaction to her new time-travel series, Syfy's Continuum, which premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
"I swear, I dare anybody to start watching it and not get hooked. I really do. I got hooked myself," said Nichols in an exclusive interview with Blastr. "I challenge you to not be interested in it."
Nichols stars as Kiera Cameron, a dedicated cop in the year 2077, who is inadvertently swept back in time to 2012 when a group of terrorists escape execution by traveling into the past. While Kiera desperately wants to get back to her husband and son in the future, she joins forces with a teen tech genius and infiltrates the local police department. With her new partner and future techology, Kiera is determined to take down the terrorists before her future is changed forever. The Canadian series also stars Erik Knudsen (Jericho), Victor Webster (Mutant X), Lexa Doig (V, Andromeda) and Tony Amendola (Stargate SG-1).
"Kiera Cameron in 2077, she knows what's right, she knows what's wrong, she knows she's absolutely fighting on the right side of the law," said Nichols. "And then she comes back to 2012 accidentally, and just like everybody else that comes back, she has to ask herself some serious moral questions about what she knew in the future compared to what she knows now. What is good? What is bad? There's no black and white anymore. The lines get blurred, and that makes for very interesting TV, to get your audience to ask the same questions that your lead characters are asking."
When you deal with time travel, you never know what's going to happen, said Nichols. "You never know if you're affected. It's like the Back to the Future effect. If you come back in time and you alter the past, does it alter the future? Or the second theory is, if you come back in time, it's part of a cycle that you were already participating in previously. There are a lot of rules to time travel. But yeah, she herself travels in the first episode accidentally back 65 years, and then there's the question of, if she ever makes it home, what will she be going home to?" she said.
"This is such a great character, there's so much here to do. There's the action, and that's awesome, and there's the time travel, and that's fantastic. And then there's also a real emotional center to the show. I've got a husband and a son that I've got to get back to. And I loved every element of it," said Nichols.
She also loves her super suit, which enhances her strength, is bulletproof and can make her invisible and even change the color of her pants so she can fit in. Kiera is also cybernetically enhanced and has a Multi-tool, which allows her to do things like open electronic locks and shoot somebody up with truth serum.
"It's really fun to play. It's limitless what you can do with that technology that we apparently have in 2077," said Nichols.
She sees the show's concept as "limitless, the opportunities that such a thing as time travel gives to a show like Continuum. Which is great, because then you're never out of stories. Anything is possible."
However, for Nichols the appeal goes beyond just the time-travel aspect. "There is the procedural aspect for those people who like that, something will be solved every episode, some problem. That absolutely happens. Now, are you still left with questions at the end of every episode? Absolutely. And you can choose whether to ask them or ponder them or not. There's also a heart to the show as well. There are the relationships between the characters. And there is the blurring of lines," she said.
"I think at the beginning of the show, Kiera comes back from the future, she's almost very robotic. It seems that humans in the future are much less human than they are today because of the tech. Because nobody relies on their instincts. So you see this metamorphosis and this change, and if you watch the first couple of episodes, you're going to start noticing everyone from the baddies to the goodies changing and switching sides and maybe questioning themselves. There's an adventure part for people who want adventure, and it's also a very thinking person's show," said Nichols.
And what would the beautiful actress know about a thinking person's show? Probably a lot, since Nichols has degrees in both math and economics from Columbia University.
"There are a lot of questions that do get asked, and a lot of questions that do get answered. And as soon as one question is answered, another one pops up. And I think that will make viewers want to tune in. There are so many different characters on the show. They'll find themselves, a piece of themselves, in at least one character, if not more. And that's what it is," she said. "It's character-driven as well as having the time-travel element, as well as having the social commentary element, and as well as having the procedural element. So for a TV lover, it's all there."
According to Nichols, Syfy plans to run the first 10 episodes of season one and the 13 episodes of season two of the series concurrently.
Here's a look at Continuum:
Will you take Nichols up on her dare?