Friday, August 19, 2011

Television Review: "Terra Nova" (*1/2)

So, I guess the most you can say about "Terra Nova" is that it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and perhaps a little less. Long given the title of "the dinosaur show", I think I've been attempted optimism ever since that first preview. I kept telling myself that it could turn out like "Lost" did, but that show didn't have animosity from the first trailer. Also, that pilot was genuinely good. "Terra Nova" is simply another attempt at the sub-genre of survival science-fiction. It's pretty much in the same position as "The Walking Dead" and "Falling Skies", but it seems to be sadly falling on the wrong side of the two.

With "Walking Dead", it focuses on just a small group of jumbled survivors. "Falling Skies" dealt more with a rebellion, which aids to all sorts of military cliches and such. "Terra Nova" is about colonists of a new world, which would be a fantastic allegory for how we came into America in the first place if it had any idea of that relevance. It follows a group of people from a dying futuristic society, which you can tell things are as bad as they're ever going to get because people have reverted to nonsensical cliches from lesser science-fiction. They go back in time to the time of the dinosaurs, but because of a loophole (plot device), they're not in their original time stream so they can do whatever the hell they want.

So the main problem I have with "Terra Nova", having only watched the first hour, is that it gives no time for us to care about the characters, and they're given absolutely no individuality. They're blankly drawn characters who are only given relevance by the events happening around them. Thing is, we don't get any impact of how bad things are. We see people in kinda bad conditions, but we don't really care. Just get to the freakin' dinosaurs. And then we do, and the show suddenly gets banal and stupid. People go to work with no feeling of danger. They're a happy family again, with no conflict.

The best thing about this show, and I am shocked to even say it, is Stephen Lang from "Avatar". I guess we only ever saw him as a gruff American military type, but he has some sort of charisma outside that. You get the idea that he has some real problems to deal with, and this family is kind of another kink in that. Other than that, this show does absolutely nothing to justify existence as a long term series. In fact, it doesn't justify the expensive hour that I saw. I know I should probably wait for the second half of the pilot, but I won't. This one's going the way of "Falling Skies".

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