So last week I wrote an article about what Fox needed to do to save its new show Terra Nova for the season. I was wondering what about the pilot might be changed in the next episode and hoped for the best. The show has potential and I didn’t want to see it get the typical Network Television treatment and get canceled. After watching the second episode though, I’m afraid cancellation is inevitable.
This episode doesn’t really add much or answer any questions from the pilot. We still don’t know much about the time rift and how it works or when the next pilgrimage is or the fate of the future earth. Also there’s no appearance by the Sixers or any more mention of Commander Taylor’s son. We do get a little bit of character development and a new character in Dr. Malcolm Wallace (Rod Hallett) who is in charge of the science division.
This show starts off with two members of the security force getting attacked by some unknown creatures from above. Based on the previews of the show, we pretty much know that its miniature pterodactyls. Back at Terra Nova, Jim and Elisabeth are trying to finally spend quality time together in their own bed now that Zoe has been given her own bed in Maddy’s room. Both nights they attempt though they are interrupted. The first time a screeching pterodactyl frightens Zoe and she climbs in the bed with her mom and the second time, several pterodactyls attack Jim and Josh when they try to scare them off. The increased visibility of the pterodactyls comes to a head when a bunch of them attack the residents of Terra Nova in the market in the middle of the day. Malcolm and Elisabeth work to try to figure out why the pterodactyls are appearing and attacking now. There’s a hamfisted attempted at building some kind of tension between Malcolm, Jim and Elisabeth but it’s nothing more than annoying and distracting right now. Malcolm & Elisabeth develop a pheromone to attract the pterodactyls and Commander Taylor and Jim pump it out of a vehicle and lead the creatures far away from the colony.
Being only an hour the show doesn’t drag on like the pilot did and that’s good. Also there weren’t any really annoying scenes with screaming teenagers and that’s a definite plus. They are moving heavily to the teen romance with Josh/Skye and Maddy/the solider guy (don’t know his name). I’ll admit that while the teenagers and kids really annoyed me in the pilot, this romance direction while predictable isn’t as annoying to me. That could be because of all the other flaws in the show that this just seems minor.
And about those flaws. First off, they need to lose Zoe. I don’t mean in the show (cause they seem to lose and forget her every 5 minutes in the show) but I mean permanently. Alana Mansour is a sweet cute kid but Terra Nova is no place for a child (in reality or in fantasy). It just doesn’t fit. From the fact that she attracts danger like a sugar attracts a fat person to the really confusing moments when Jim “forgets” how to be a dad when dealing with her. I mean the Shannon’s have 2 other kids. I find it hard to believe he forgot how to bathe and take care of a child. Also the attempt at tension/love triangle between Jim, Elisabeth and Malcolm is dead on arrival. The Shannon’s have a 17 year old. I find it hard to believe that Malcolm conspired to bring Elisabeth and her children to Terra Nova without Jim to move in on Jim’s wife. Honestly, I hate love triangles that don’t involve a red head, a man who shots energy beams out of his eyes and a short guy with an indestructible adamantium skeleton. But if there has to be one, bring Josh’s girlfriend to Terra Nova and deal with it there. I have a hard time understanding Jim’s jealousy when he has 2 teens and a 5 year old daughter. Malcolm’s going after soccer moms? Come on…they can do better.
But all those things are minor things really. The major problem with this episode was that it was boring. And it’s not just that it was boring but WHY it was boring. There were two points in the episodes that were “dangerous missions” but instead of showing them to us, there was a cut to commercial and then we came back to the aftermath. First was when they needed to capture a live pair of pterodactyls to study. I actually walked into my kitchen as Jim was climbing into his vehicle with a weapon, the worry on Elisabeth’s face and when I came back Malcom & Elisabeth were already studying the samples. Huh? How do you “yadda yadda” the good part? Even worse, later we watch as Jim and Taylor speed off in a vehicle with a flock of angry pterodactyls after them and then we cut to a scene of them coming back. We never SEE what they went through to lead the creatures away and how they escaped, we just have them laughing and talking about it later. Between this and the way they handled explaining the time rift in the pilot, it’s as if Fox is trying to have a Sci-Fi show without the Sci-Fi. It’s also a blatant way for them to save money on CG by not showing the CG and just having characters talk about it. To give you an example of how this is going it is like that scene in Jurassic Park when the T-Rex pushes the car over the cliff and into the tree and Dr. Grant has to rescue Tim. Now imagine if that whole scene wasn’t shown on screen but instead described generally by one of the characters. Not in detail but more like “yeah the T-Rex got loose, pushed the car over the cliff and we had to rescue little Timmy….hey we got any more of the icecream?”
So far this show is quickly losing my interest. I’m obligated to watch for one more show but after that, I might catch it here or there if it lasts that long. You can’t have a Sci-Fi show like this and “yadda yadda” the action/geek parts and then focus on the teen angst and point boring relationship drama. After watching Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek (TNG, DS9, etc) on Netflix, one thing I’ve noticed is, to save money those shows used very few sets. It allowed them to focus on characters and give short but effective scenes of actions. Fox is using so many grand sets with Terra Nova they have to shortcut the action just to make the show affordable. That makes for a boring show. If this keeps up, I don’t see how a second season comes around. But hey, Falling Skies got a second season so anything is possible.