Tag Archives: Terra Nova

Fall 2011 New TV Show Predictions Reviewed, Part 1

23 Dec

A couple of months ago, I made predictions about how long new shows on cable networks, ABC, and Fox would last.  As all the shows have aired for a few weeks, it’s time for an evaluation of my predictions, although for some shows, the final word is not in yet.  Such an evaluation follows:


Hell on Wheels

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed away – not as successful commercially as AMC stalwart The Walking Dead or critically as Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but good enough.  It’s no Rubicon.


Predicted:  Renewal

What Happened:  Renewal – right on, everyone else agreed with me and I agreed with everyone else that this is the best new show of the year.  It’ll be back with a vengeance.

American Horror Story

Predicted:  Renewal

What Happened:  Renewed – I still don’t understand it, and I don’t mean that in either a good or a bad way, but it’s become a bit of a sleeper hit.


Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed – Cheating, it was renewed before it aired.  Still, it got good enough reviews, for whatever that’s worth.


Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed, but barely, as it survived the great HBO comedy extermination of 2011, which saw the ends of personal favorite Bored to Death, Hung and How To Make It In America.



Charlie’s Angels

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled.  One of the five easiest predictions to make all year.  Had no chance from day one.

Last Man Standing

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Picked up for full season so far.  Probably the prediction I got wrong which I would have staked the most on.  I still don’t think it will last past this year, but I would have said it’d be gone after three or four episodes, so who knows.

Man Up

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Second of the top five easiest decisions.  Didn’t have a shot in hell, and shouldn’t have.

Once Upon A Time

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up a for a full season, likely renewal.  It’s become a family hit, and although it hasn’t been renewed yet, so I could technically still be right, it probably will be renewed and I’ll be wrong.  Oops.

Pan Am

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Not cancelled officially yet, but looking like all but a formality.  This was one of the more difficult shows to call.


Precited:  Renewal

What happened;  Picked up for a full season, and looking likely for renewal.  Very pleased about both my call, which wasn’t obvious, and the popularity of one of the better new shows.


Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up, with a renewal likely.  It’s been kind of a surprise hit on what’s become a bit of a surprise hit Wednesday night comedy block on ABC, with Modern Family, The Middle, and Happy Endings next to Suburgatory.


New Girl

Predicted; Renewal

What happened:  Picked up for a full season, it would be a total shock if it was not renewed.  One of the biggest new show hits of the season so far.

Allen Gregory

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled – not a shocker by any means.  Bad show, bad spot, no chance.  Third of my five easiest cancellations to call.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter

Predicted:  12-

Renewed:  Uncertain, as it didn’t start until the end of November.  That said, I still feel fairly confident in a cancellation.

Terra Nova

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  This is the closest show on the list, and it could still go either way.  I wouldn’t take odds one way or the other.

Fall 2011 Review: Terra Nova

15 Dec

Lost set both a high and low bar for long supernatural mystery shows.  It was captivating at the beginning with well-developed characters, fine acting, an interesting setting and a mystery which had fans thinking about the show, searching the internet for theories and possible answers to all of the questions the show posed, big and small.  Of course, some Lost fans will tell you that if you thought it was just about the mysteries you didn’t get it.  That’s bullshit.  Mysteries aren’t enough if the characters and the story are shit but there is no question of their importance when you pay so much attention to them early on in the show.

Since Lost began, a host of long form mystery shows have tried to replicate its success and very few have had any success.  The Event, Flashforward, Surface, Invasion, are some and the list goes on.  Terra Nova is the newest attempt.  Terra Nova does a good enough job of setting up an interesting premise with enough initial mystery to make me curious going forward.

Terra Nova begins in 2149, where man has destroyed the environment.  The air is not fit to breathe and strict population controls lead our main family to get in trouble with the government for having a third child.  The patriarch, Jim, is thrown in jail.  Two years later, Jim’s wife, Dr. Elisabeth Shannon, is recruited for Terra Nova, a journey into a new space-time, 85 millions years ago but in a different timeline, which has been found through a mysterious portal.  She helps her husband break out of jail and the whole family, including teenage son Josh, teenage daughter Maddy and five year old Zoe, makes it into the past.  From there, we find a paradise surrounded by a gate, with fierce dinosaur creatures outside.  Another threat is from a separatist movement from Terra Nova known as Sixers.  The other initial mystery lies in strange writings which Josh finds on a mischievous adventure outside of the camp, and the fact that it’s probably related somehow to the head of Terra Nova, Commander Nathaniel Taylor’s, missing son.

Unfortunately, only a small part of a show like this in its premise.  Delivery on the questions set up is so important.  When  your show is about a mystery, a satisfying conclusion is integral to making that work.  That includes parceling out answers slowly but definitively, keeping the audience dangling but  never dangling too far.  It’s a carrot and stick game, and it’s important that the carrot never goes so far that we can’t even see it anymore.  Conclusions are so much harder than premises.  I can think of a hundred great ideas for premises, but it’s much harder to figure out how to solve them in ways that are interesting, not entirely predictable, and don’t feel like they come out of nowhere.

Good characters and writing make the journey more interesting, more meaningful, and more worth rewatching if everything else is a success.   It’s hard to tell what you’re going to get in these respects from the first episode.  Overall, it was just about average in every way in regard to these aspects.  The characters were fine, not especially interesting or necessarily lacking and the writing was nothing to commend but wasn’t terrible either.  Right now the only part of the show tempting me to watch again is the mystery, which isn’t ideal, but sometimes it takes a while to develop compelling characters.

I did think it was strange that they chose the evil Colonel from Avatar to be the leader of Terra Nova considering the similarity between the two just in terms of both being set in pre-colonized planets lush with wildlife and dangerous creatures.  If he turns out to be evil, and Giovanni Ribisi is the penny-pinching corporate overlord, I am not going to be happy.

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.  I’m watching it late enough in the season that I’m unfairly influenced by what I hear around me, and that seems to be not much, which I’m interpreting as meaning it’s neither very good nor very bad.  It was, like Hell on Wheels, good enough to make me interested in watching a second episode, but not good enough to make me feel like I necessarily had to.

Fall 2011 Preview and Predictions: Fox

16 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

Time to tackle Fox’s slate of four new fall non-scripted shows (X Factor the big unscripted debut).  New Girl starts next week and Terra Nova the week after.  The other two start much later, owing to Fox’s yearly late start due to postseason baseball airing all October.

New Girl – 9/20

Fox is trying to add “adorkable” to the lexicon, and as much as I hate forced additions to the lexicon by advertisers (see: my hatred of the old cell phone commercials trying to get your “five” to catch on), I have to admit it’s a pretty good word and as apt for series star Zooey Deschanel as for anyone.  Zooey, as Jess, breaks up with her boyfriend at the beginning of the show and moves in with three dudes, who teach her a little bit about life, while she has something to teach her too.

Verdict:  Renewal – the show doesn’t sound or look great, but even I have to admit Zooey Deschanel has some undeniable charisma even if I’ve never been infatuated with her

Allen Gregory – 10/30

Fox is the leader in primetime animated series, in their vaunted Sunday block, anchored stalwarts The Simpsons and Family Guy.  When I read that Jonah Hill was creating and starring in an animated series on Fox, I was interested.  Hill voices the title character, a snooty 7-year old with two gay parents.  Unfortunately, I’ve read seriously bad notices about the show being both derivative and more than that straight out bad.

Verdict:  12- Hill’s name should count for something but with the Napoleon Dynamite animated series barking at the door, I’m not sure the series will be given that much room for failure

I Hate My Teenage Daughter – 11/30

Two suburban moms, portrayed by Jamie Pressly and Katie Finnernan, find, to their dismay, that their daughters are becoming the type of kids they hated when they were in high school.  The dads, both exes, are incompetent, as the mothers try to do their best to straighten out their daughters.

Verdict:  12- Another of the class of it’s just going to be bad.  It’s not that the premise is as forced as How to Be A Gentlemen; a show with this premise could in theory work.  Still, it’s not going to; it’s going to be very bad.

Terra Nova – 9/26

Probably the winner of this year’s biggest Lost clone award, Terra Nova is actually somewhat of a Lost meets Land of the Lost, as future people, with the planet in danger (take that climate change skeptics) build a time machine and go back millions upon millions of years to create a human colony in the ancient past.  Oh, yeah, and they built their colony in the middle of killer dinosaurs.

Verdict: Renewal – well this is half a cheat, since Fox skipped ordering a pilot and just ordered 13 episodes straight out, a highly unusual step.  It’s probably the most expensive new series and it looks it.  I don’t know whether it’s going to be interesting, whether the characters will be compelling, and whether the story line will make sense, but it’s going to look fantastic.