S1E7: This week's Terra Nova offers a slight change regarding which Shannons get the meat of the screen time/story severity. Jim plays a supporting role to Taylor for the first third of the episode, retiring to perform some handy exposition with Liz for the remaining forty minutes (albeit capping off the episode with some nick-of-time machismo). This week's Terra Nova, "Proof," invests in the elder Shannon children, who take the law into their own hands. As you might guess, Maddy is on the serve-and-protect side of things, trying to outsmart and bring to justice a man she believes to be a fraud and a murderer. Josh, on the other hand, is a less noble figure this episode: he takes on a brief stint as a criminal, all with the intention to (you already know) get his girlfriend sent back to Terra Nova. And Taylor...well, everytime Taylor's son is brought into the equation, we see Taylor slip just a little further into the abyss of lunacy.
"Tell Dad I'll be home in time to make the asparagus." - Maddy
An exploration team that has been gone for six months returns to Terra Nova, and the team includes Maddy's hero: Dr. Ken Horton (guest star Robert Coleby), a great scientist who wrote the book that inspired and eased her about her trip into the past, Atlas of a Long Forgotten World. However, upon meeting the fellow, Maddy finds that he's not all he was cracked up to be. He forgets and contradicts past statements of his from his book (which he attributes to a stroke) and boasts a signature that does not match the one signed on a fan letter he sent to Maddy long ago. She is probed to investigate, with the help of Zoe, who assumes the man is a vampire (apparently vampires are going to be trendy all the way into the 2100s...and then back into prehistory...so we're doomed...) and Malcolm, minorly, who also has his suspicions of the ill-tempered man. However, Maddy's real triumph over Dr. Horton comes from her own mental machinations. She channels her own middle child syndrome to realize that the would-be Horton is actually the real Horton's assistant, who murdered him before heading back in time to Terra Nova (so that he could take his place in the paradise world). Once Faux Horton realizes Maddy is onto him, he attempts to kill her, but a well-timed "code word" delivered through her baby sister to her dad gets Jim there just in time to knock the murderous maniac out cold.
Now, I'm a sucker for a detective story. This isn't exactly a clue-laden, expertly crafted Sherlock Holmes tale, but it's a fun subplot...even if it really contributes nothing to the story as a whole (except maybe the "We can't really trust anyone here" theme that's been lain in place for a few weeks now). But the best part of it is, we get to see Maddy do something other than fawn over her Pakuni boyfriend. I get that Terra Nova is a new world to her, and in that world she doesn't have to just be a lonely brainiac...but sometimes, she should be a lonely brainiac. That's where her charm comes in.
"They say a man's nature is revealed by how he discharges his debts." - Boylan
And now, for the brother. Josh has been slated as the trouble son since the pilot, when he denounced his dad for having been in jail too long and set off into the woods with some Terra Novians as a...statement? Or boredom, or something. Anyway, ever since then, he's been dead set on getting his girlfriend sent back to Terra Nova to live in the gradually-cracking paradise. Over the course of previous episodes, he went to work for the seedy bartender Boylan, who is his link to the Sixers, who have the technology to bring Cara back to the Nove. The Sixers are willing to comply with Josh's request, so long as he steals a bunch of medicine from the community hospital (to do so, he'll have to steal his doctor mother's security card).
Josh battles with the ethics behind this, ultimately deciding that it is worth lying to and stealing from his parents in order to bring his girlfriend back from the deadly 2100s. Josh's break-in goes awry, and he is forced to smash his way into the cabinets, leaving a fair amount of evidence that somebody might have been there illicitly. Jim investigates, and the clues eventually lead him back to Boylan, who reveals that the Sixers do indeed have the technology to speak to the future. Josh makes his delivery in time, but he also comes clean to his parents (and retrieves for them the amount of medicine needed to save an ailing patient his mother mentioned in passing). However, he does lose their trust, and potentially the friendship of Skye, who methinks is a bit upset that he is still so hung up on Cara after all they've been through.
It seems as though this is as far as Josh's loyalties to his family can be bended. He is overcome by guilt and admits his misdeeds by the end, indicating that we probably won't see him teaming with the Sixers behind the community's back anymore. Does this mean stray Josh adventures are over, and he'll be confined to self-contained episodes for a while? Or will his girlfriend show up, and he'll be stuck with love-triangle drama? I'm not sure which is preferable...
"This is the first time I've ever heard you talk about Lucas. How long has it been since he went missing?" - Jim
"That's not my favorite topic." - Taylor
Taylor takes Jim to the waterfront (did anyone else know they were on an island? Does anyone else hope it's a special island? With a glowing core?) for a fishing trip. While there, they discover an individual campsite thrown asunder. Jim heads back home, and Taylor tracks the injured party to realize that it is the soldier he banished from Terra Nova -- he has been attacked by a gila monster, or something. Taylor fights off his predator and nurses him to help, and promises to consider allowing him back into society...with a favor in exchange: Taylor gives him a secretive mission to, so it seems, find his long-lost son.
Taylor seems to know what we do: his son isn't "lost," he's gone. He split out of malice or rebellion or some crazy calling. Whatever reason, this better come into play soon. The most promising thing about Terra Nova is the potential in this Lucas Taylor story. Taylor, Jr., has something in the works -- something big, and some crazy in his eyes to boot. This show can't last on Josh's will to see his girlfriend alone. Either they work this big storyline into the episodes soon, or there won't be much will to keep watching.
Steve and Terri Irwin are crocodile relocators in Far North Queensland Australia. They spend a lot of time well relocating crocs--saving a baby kangaroo and charming a few snakes along the way. But all that's about to change. A U.S. satellite has exploded in space and its black box has re-entered the atmosphere and ended up in the gut of a nasty 12-foot croc the Irwins are about to relocate. The FBI CIA and goodness knows what other agencies are out to find the box at any cost because it contains data that could change the world's power structure. When the agents cross paths with the Irwins they become convinced that the two croc hunters are actually spies mainly because as one agent says toward the end of the film "You don't make that kind of money in cable television." That's for sure and that's probably the reason the producers turned The Crocodile Hunter cable show into a movie. It definitely wasn't because the script was irresistible: The plot is as transparent as shed snakeskin and the acting (if it can be called that) is as stiff as the spikes on a croc's back. I'm sure this is the kind of movie that a critic shouldn't take seriously but from its lizard-pooh opening to its crocodile-pooh finish The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course really stinks.
Director/story writer/producer John Stainton was working with Irwin long before The Crocodile Hunter TV show became an international hit. In fact he wrote a movie script for Irwin in the mid-1990s that was scrapped because he didn't think Irwin should be acting. It's a shame he didn't take that thought process one step further; we'd all have been spared an agonizing guided tour of a good idea gone very very bad. The film's stars while appealing enough in the one-hour documentary format simply can't sustain a full-length motion picture and Mr. Irwin would have done well to heed his own advice--"Don't muck with it." Granted at least Stainton was smart enough to present the Irwins doing what they do best--enthusiastically working with wild animals while talking straight into the camera. The task of plot development is left to the other cast members--mainly Australian actors doing caricatures of Americans--who overdramatically play out the goofy spy plot in scenes that are completely separate from the Irwins' animal antics until the last 10 minutes of the film. The Irwin family dog Sui is probably the best actor of the bunch--and the smartest too. Most of the time she looks like she'd rather be just about anywhere else which is the most intelligent thing anybody in this film does.
As if anybody needed it The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is proof that what works on TV doesn't necessarily make a good movie; the Crocodile Hunter documentary routine quickly grows frustrating in the film because the Irwin scenes do nothing to further what little plot the movie actually has. Plus the reason why the Irwins continually talk into the camera goes unexplained until the very end of the film--and when someone finally mentions the fact that the Irwins have been "filming" their show throughout the movie it's so offhand that it's easily missed. At the same time the spy storyline that drives the plot is trite and because of the movie's bizarre structure it's played out by actors the audience couldn't care less about rather than by the ones they came to see. The spy scenes separate the Irwin segments like commercials--and like commercials when they come on you just want to get up and go to the bathroom grab a snack or feed the dog. The best thing that can be said for Stainton's direction is that at least he's not afraid of the film's ridiculousness. Bad though the movie is in every way Stainton puts it all out there as enthusiastically as Steve Irwin wrestles crocs and that's saying something. The film also gets across the Irwins' admittedly important message about conservation loud and clear but that probably won't be enough to keep its audience from becoming extinct.