terra-nova3

Anyone else check out the premiere of Terra Nova last night?

Fox’s much hyped and VERY expensive dinosaur drama launched with a whole heap of expectations after a yearlong wait for the show to come to our screens. But will the show become a long running hit for the network.

Based on last night’s launch show, personally I don’t think so. I think Terra Nova will open huge – I’m expecting some mighty big ratings in today. But going forward I think the show is going to drop significantly each and every week. Think of V, the ABC sci-fi reboot that launched big (14 million) and then dropped like a stone. Both V and Terra Nova share one thing in common. Their premieres weren’t very good.

It wasn’t that Terra Nova was awful – it sort of a chugged along in a mindlessly entertaining kind of way. But after a great opening set in the 22nd century, the whole show just sort of fell apart for me.

The key problem is that Terra Nova seems to be aiming for a generic family audience and is painfully under-written. Turns out $15 million will buy you a whole heap of CGI – but it won’t cover a decent script!

Of all the angles that could be explored on the Spielberg produced show why did Terra Nova have to opt for the least interesting of them. As you doubtless know the series follows a family sent back in time from the over-populated and polluted 22nd century to the prehistoric past where a new community is being built. There’s dinosaurs, a group of renegade outcasts, lofty questions about second chances and starting over. And what did Terra Nova choose to concentrate on? The dull central family who are just ripe with clichés and straight out of an ABC Family movie.

There’s teenage son Josh, who’s angry with his dad and decides to rebel by sneaking out of the compound with his new friends. The teens get attacked by dinosaurs, a couple of them get mauled (though unrealistically don’t die), mom and dad turn up to save the day, and father and son make peace.

Meanwhile teenage daughter Maddy is the brainy and awkward one who’s now being pursued by a hot young teenage stud. And Zoe is the 5-year-old daughter who’s meant to be cute in that horrible, Spielbergian way but instead comes of as about as authentic as a pageant contestant on Toddlers And Tiaras.

 Jason-OMara-as-Jim-Shannon-Terra-Nova

Every scene of Terra Nova felt focus grouped to death. Need a scene of dad Jim, proving his virility. Well let’s add in a gratuitous scene of actor Jason O’Mara shirtless and sweaty. Then there’s mom, Elisabeth, who’s a virtual saint – an amazing doctor with three kids and not a hair out of place. I can only imagine how many Executive Producers must have weighed in on the show. The result is painfully bland.

What’s missing from Terra Nova is a sense of mystery and menace. Remember those early episodes of Lost, the diverse and unusual cast, the sophistication of the writing. Terra Nova feels like a theme park – which it may well become down the line – and lacks any element of edge.

And that’s why I think people won’t be sticking around in the coming weeks. Last night Fox gave us a taste of this new world. But I have a feeling it’s a world few will care to revisit…

But what did you think? Did you enjoy Terra Nova – or feel the way I did? Fire away…