Category Archives: judgement call

judgment call: terra nova premiere

Terra Nova was my pick for the tvd&m fall television list for two simple reasons: sci-fi and dinosaurs. I’ve heard a lot of justifications for why this show would be idiotic, but the loudest and most annoying was the low-budget look of the dinos in all of the promos. I ignored all of this because I’ve judged shows for shallow reasons too and with Steven Spielberg as an executive producer, expectations were bound to be high.

Watching a new show is like the first date. Everyone is on the best behavior, trying to be appealing as possible with the time they’re given. I try to look at any series premiere for its potential, but also if there’s any hope for longevity. For the record, I don’t think the dinos looked all that cheap considering it’s a brand-new, network show. Regardless, there is a butt-load of potential here!

The first 15 minutes of Terra Nova were dramatic and I was immediately sympathetic to the Shannons:

photo source spinoff.comicbookresources.com

Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara, Life on Mars)
Elisabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn)
Jason Shannon (Landon Liboiron, Degrassi the Next Generation)
Maddy Shannon (Naomi Scott, Life Bites)
Zoe Shannon (Alana Mansour)

In a land where “four is family” they were desperately trying to hide their fifth child. When that failed, Jim went nuts trying to protect his family and landed himself in jail. They were torn apart and used Terra Nova as an opportunity to start over. According to Commander Nathaniel Taylor (Stephen Lang, Avatar), Earth was ruined by greed, war and ignorance. He doesn’t paint Terra Nova as perfect, but it’s definitely a fresh start for everyone and as of yet, he doesn’t seem like the crazy dictator type.

We see the family adjusting to their new world and of course when a family uproots there’s always one child who joins the “bad crowd”. I don’t think this is the case with Jason, but Skye (Allison Miller, Kings) and her buddies who enjoy going OTG definitely got him into a bad situation.

photo courtesy of latimesherocomplex.wordpress.com

We also met the Sixers and their leader Mira, who I almost immediately disliked. Then I realized it wasn’t Mira but the actress, Christine Adams, and her role on Nip/Tuck (completely different show and something I’ll have to get over). The Sixers are the rouge citizens of the new world. We don’t know much, but they weren’t introduced as murderous, just outsiders with an agenda.

Only two hours in and there’s already so much I want to know about these people and the world they live in. I wonder what the writers were trying to convey by having Jim Shannon go from working in narcotics for the Chicago P.D. to providing security in a world where dinosaurs exist. Maybe nothing? I could have read too much into that. I enjoyed that this show gives you more than one plot point to wonder about. No huge event and we’re not just focused on saving a cheerleader.

A few other things that were (seemingly) significant:

  • The geometric equations
  • Commander Taylor’s secrets, including his son and his interactions with Mira and Sky
  • The details of how the “time stream” works
  • Sixers, who they are and why they are the “opposing group”
  • Control the past, control the future….TELL US MORE!

Did you watch? Did you love it? Hate it? Holding off until next week’s episode before forming an opinion?

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judgement call: free agents

At one point during the premiere last night Hank Azaria (The Simpsons) and Anthony Head’s (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) characters make a joke about how long Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddy Prinze Jr.’s marriage has lasted. For Buffy fans we essentially watched Giles, albeit a bright LA-color wearing version, briefly mention the actress that played Buffy (or at least that’s how it played out for me).

That was the only high point for me during this otherwise awkward 30-minute episode. I rooted hard for Kath and Kim and I didn’t like the Office (or Creed) at first, so I’m understandably less than confident when it comes to picking winners for NBC comedies. But I feel pretty comfortable with saying I didn’t really like this pilot episode.

Similar to the plot, the theme song sounds like something fresh from 90s NBC programming. Unlike the slightly less cheerful British original, the U.S. version plays out like a workplace rom-com. Alex (Azaria) and Helen (Step Brothers’ Kathryn Hahn) have a one-night stand because he’s emo and divorced and she’s newly widowed (I’m assuming if your fiancé dies you can still be a widow) and looking for an escape. They have the usual hijinks that come from such things, all the while dealing with a cast of “zany” coworkers. They don’t really have the sexual chemistry to push that predictable a storyline, which is disappointing, because if they’d been written as opposite-sex besties (as I originally hoped) it might have a chance.

I don’t see this show being cancelled immediately because:

  1. It comes on after the much funnier Up All Night.
  2. Outsourced lasted a full season and based on the pilot episode alone, Free Agents is a wayyyyy better show than that.
  3. I don’t really understand a lot of NBC’s choices sometimes, so it would make sense that this would be a show they hold on to.

I’ll give it another viewing next week at least. Hopefully in that time they transition from painful, The Situation roasting Donald Trump awkward to funny, Awkward awkward.

 

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