April 18, 2013 7:45pm EST
Hemlock Grove hits Netflix April 19 and there's very little known about the brand new horror series, aside from the fact that the NSFW trailer scared (and grossed) the hell out of everyone in the Hollywood.com offices. Producer Eli Roth really does have a way with blood... and guts... and maggots... and bones protruding from skin. You get the idea.
But we generally know what the series is about (werewolves), who it's from (Roth), why it's a big deal (Netflix's original programming slate), but who are all of these sexy (but also kind of terrifying) people bringing the book-to-series adaptation to life?
Stars As: Olivia Godfrey, matriarch of the wealthy Godfrey family.Notable Qualities: Cold, disarming stare; Apparent insatiable lust, which probably makes her a bit of a MILF.I Know That Face...: Yes, you definitely do. She's the mutant who stole Wolverine's heart in the X-Men movies: Jean Grey.Crush Potential: She's a hot mom with a dark side. Do the math.
Stars As: Roman Godfrey, son of Olivia and Dr. Norman Godfrey.Notable Qualities: Good at smoldering; often found fighting with his lusty mother; not averse to teaming up with presumed werewolf gypsies to solve murders.I Know That Name... Right?: Sort of. Bill is brother to True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård and son to Stellan Skarsgård. He's also got four names (Bill Istvan Günther Skarsgård) and was in 2012's Anna Karenina with Kiera Knightley.Crush Potential: He's practically got a pedigree as the younger brother of Alexander, plus he's pretty damn handsome. Yeah, you'll be crushing.
Stars As: Peter Rumancek, a gypsy and quite possibly a werewolf.Notable Qualities: He's 17, considered "trailer trash" and a gypsy, and he teams up with the town's richest guy his age to solve a murder? You can bet his life is going to get all kinds of rough. It also means he's totally going to have sexual tension (and – we're guessing – then some) with Roman's sister.I Have No Idea Who This Guy Is: He's Canadian, so you guessed it! He was on Degrassi as Declan. American audiences may know him a little better at the son of Jason O'Mara's hero on the short-lived Fox Sci-Fi series Terra Nova. Crush Potential: Tortured werewolf? Duh.
Stars As: Letha Godfrey, another of the wealthy Godfrey brood.Notable Qualities: Pretty, blonde, likely to attract scruffy gypsy boys like Peter.I Have No Idea Who This Girl Is: The lovely Australian lady hasn't done much stateside, so this is a bit of a break for her. However, (fun fact) her cousin Radha Mitchell has had some success in the U.S. and is presently starring in ABC's Red Widow. Crush Potential: Look at that gorgeous face. Yes, dudes, there's crush potential.
Stars As: Dr. Norman Godfrey, husband of Olivia and father to Roman and Letha.Notable Qualities: Ruggedly handsome; he yells a lot in the trailer, so we're assuming as the patriarch of a wealthy family, he's seeking order in a world that's about to go completely nuts; owner of a biotech facility that could have something to do with the murder Roman and Peter are trying to solve.I Know His Face...: Do you like Drew Barrymore movies? Even the ones where she messes with history and fairy tales and murders a British accent while playing a French girl? Then you probably recognize this rascal from Ever After, Barrymore's strange twist on the classic Cinderella tale.Crush Potential: He seems a little sinister so far, but hey, whatever floats your boat.
Stars As: Lynda Rumancek, gypsy mom extraordinaire to Peter (could this casting be any better?).Notable Qualities: She's a gypsy and her son is telling people he's a werewolf. Prepare for sass. I Know Her Face...: You'd netter know her face, she was in such classic films as Mystic Pizza and Say Anything... plus she was a regular on Six Feet Under (if you didn't watch it, scurry over to Netflix right now, slacker). She also introduced the founding members of the band Veruca Salt to one another, so, you're welcome.Crush Potential: She's a pretty lady, but my guess is that's not what she's here for.
Stars As: Shelley Godfrey, youngest daughter of the wealthy, aloof Godfreys.Notable Qualities: She's apparently incredibly creepy, which is appropriate because you can bet the name "Shelley" (with an E) is an homage to Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. I Have No Idea Who This Girl Is: You wouldn't. This is her first acting gig.
Stars As: Peter's former friend Christina Wendall.Notable Qualities: She's a teenage girl who's mad at her best friend, who's a hot 17-year-old guy; the sparks will most certainly fly.I Have No Idea Who This Girl Is: This is her first project of note, through from the looks of the trailer, it may the start of many more.Crush Potential: She's pretty, she's young, why not?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
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November 15, 2012 8:42am EST
The wait is over! At last the nominations for the least authoritative awards show of all, the People's Choice Awards, are here. 93 million votes were tallied by phone, Interwebs, and even in-person polling at Walgreens (seriously), to determine the contenders for the 2013 kudos fest. It turns out that these guys Adam Levine (six nods), Channing Tatum (four), and Justin Bieber (five) are really popular. I have a Y chromosome, so I wouldn't have known. 2013 People's Choice Awards host Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) announced the nominees this morning in Los Angeles at the Paley Center for Media, along with country star Jason Aldean, Anthony Anderson, Casey Wilson, Jason O'Mara, and executive producer Mark Burnett. Check out the full list of nominees below, and, remember, if you object to any of the picks, you only have America to blame.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS 2013 NOMINEES:
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hunger Games
Snow White and the Huntsman
FAVORITE MOVIE ACTOR
Robert Downey, Jr.
FAVORITE MOVIE ACTRESS
FAVORITE MOVIE ICON
FAVORITE ACTION MOVIE
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hunger Games
Men in Black 3
FAVORITE ACTION MOVIE STAR
Robert Downey, Jr.
FAVORITE FACE OF HEROISM
Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises
Emma Stone, The Amazing Spider-Man
Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games
Kristen Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman
Scarlett Johansson, The Avengers
FAVORITE COMEDIC MOVIE
21 Jump Street
What to Expect When You're Expecting
FAVORITE COMEDIC MOVIE ACTOR
FAVORITE COMEDIC MOVIE ACTRESS
FAVORITE DRAMATIC MOVIE
The Lucky One
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
FAVORITE DRAMATIC MOVIE ACTOR
FAVORITE DRAMATIC MOVIE ACTRESS
FAVORITE MOVIE FRANCHISE
The Dark Knight
The Hunger Games
FAVORITE MOVIE SUPERHERO
Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man
Chris Evans as Captain America
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Christian Bale as Batman
Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man
FAVORITE ON-SCREEN CHEMISTRY
Emma Stone / Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man
Jennifer Lawrence / Josh Hutcherson / Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games
Kristen Stewart / Chris Hemsworth, Snow White and the Huntsman
Rachel McAdams / Channing Tatum, The Vow
Scarlett Johansson / Jeremy Renner, The Avengers
FAVORITE MOVIE FAN FOLLOWING
Potterheads, Harry Potter
Ringers, The Lord of the Rings
Rum Runners, Pirates of the Caribbean
Tributes, The Hunger Games
FAVORITE NETWORK TV COMEDY
The Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother
FAVORITE NETWORK TV DRAMA
Once Upon a Time
FAVORITE CABLE TV COMEDY
Hot in Cleveland
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Melissa & Joey
FAVORITE CABLE TV DRAMA
Pretty Little Liars
The Walking Dead
FAVORITE PREMIUM CABLE TV SHOW
Game of Thrones
FAVORITE TV CRIME DRAMA
FAVORITE SCI-FI/FANTASY TV SHOW
Once Upon a Time
The Vampire Diaries
The Walking Dead
FAVORITE COMEDIC TV ACTOR
Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Neil Patrick Harris
FAVORITE COMEDIC TV ACTRESS
FAVORITE DRAMATIC TV ACTOR
FAVORITE DRAMATIC TV ACTRESS
FAVORITE DAYTIME TV HOST
The Ellen DeGeneres Show: Ellen DeGeneres
Good Morning America: George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer, Robin Roberts, Sam Champion
Live with Kelly & Michael: Kelly Ripa & Michael Strahan
The Today Show: Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Natalie Morales
The View: Barbara Walters, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, Whoopi Goldberg
FAVORITE LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST
FAVORITE NEW TALK SHOW HOST
FAVORITE COMPETITION TV SHOW
America's Got Talent
Dancing with the Stars
The X Factor
FAVORITE CELEBRITY JUDGE
FAVORITE TV FAN FOLLOWING
Little Liars, Pretty Little Liars
Oncers, Once Upon A Time
TVDFamily, The Vampire Diaries
FAVORITE NEW TV COMEDY
Ben & Kate
Guys With Kids
The Mindy Project
The New Normal
FAVORITE NEW TV DRAMA
666 Park Avenue
Beauty & The Beast
Emily Owens, M.D.
The Mob Doctor
FAVORITE MALE ARTIST
FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST
FAVORITE POP ARTIST
FAVORITE HIP HOP ARTIST
FAVORITE R&B ARTIST
FAVORITE COUNTRY ARTIST
FAVORITE BREAKOUT ARTIST
Carly Rae Jepsen
“Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen
“One More Night,” Maroon 5
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift
“We Are Young,” Fun. ft. Janelle Monáe
“What Makes You Beautiful,” One Direction
Believe, Justin Bieber
Blown Away, Carrie Underwood
Overexposed, Maroon 5
Some Nights, Fun.
Up All Night, One Direction
FAVORITE MUSIC VIDEO
Boyfriend, Justin Bieber
Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen
Gangnam Style, Psy
Part of Me, Katy Perry
Payphone, Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa
FAVORITE MUSIC FAN FOLLOWING
Beliebers, Justin Bieber
Directioners, One Direction
KatyCats, Katy Perry
Lovatics, Demi Lovato
Selenators, Selena Gomez
What do you think of the nominees?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: WENN (3)]
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March 27, 2012 8:08am EST
After Terra Nova was canceled by Fox in early March, rumors circulated that Netflix was interested in picking up the series to produce further seasons. The video-streaming company has been working toward making a name for itself in original programming, and Terra Nova was one of the several discarded series in which it had invested interest, including Arrested Development. But news is that Netflix has decided to pass on picking up Terra Nova, leaving the fate of the science fiction series anything but optimistic.
20th Century Fox has not yet entirely abandoned Terra Nova, but the Netflix rejection seems to solidify a lack of future for the show. No other network has expressed interest in reviving Terra Nova, likely in light of its low ratings and high production costs. Major stars of the program Jason O'Mara (hero Jim Shannon), Allison Miller (love interest to Jim's son) and Christine Adams (a primary antagonist) have found work on other developing projects, leaving Terra Nova without three of its most important characters. Considering all this, Terra Nova's second season dreams are likely extinct.
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December 20, 2011 7:07am EST
Terra Nova is the epitome of “high-concept.” When word started to spread about the show, it seemed like it was using all of the key words to hook us: time-travel, dinosaurs, futuristic society, Steven Spielberg. If there was one thing the series did not seem to be, it was simple. But where Terra Nova didn’t quite excel over the course of its inaugural season was its fleshing out of everything it presented to us. Combine that with the fact that the series still doesn't have a second season order and we're forced to wonder: can Terra Nova really work as a continued series?
Last night's season finale leaves us with a cliffhanger, but we wonder if it's one that will ever be satisfied. Beyond the initial thrill of the concept of humans living among dinosaurs, we don’t get a lot. The science-fiction aspects are swept under the rug. The human interest aspect is played up, but we’re never given much of a reason to invest in the characters. Terra Nova’s most interesting moments actually came from its inspections of the politics and ideologies of the society, but we’d need more of this to really hang our hats on it.
Most of what Terra Nova gives us is surface value. There isn’t much to the huge-selling dinosaur aspect other than the fact that occasionally, we get to see a dinosaur (pretty infrequently, actually). Coming from the man who made the greatest dinosaur movie there ever was, we should have expected more. Terra Nova’s corrupt governments and hostile takeovers filled the pilot, finale and a few odd episodes in between, but everything surrounding this was primary filler material. We got some very basic television drama stories: the amnesia episode, the not-who-he-says-he-is episode, the trapped-in-a-small-location episode. All the while, it seems as though we’d have been better served learning about how the past and future worlds can coexist, the inherent flaws in a society run by one man, or how the world of the 2100s came to be the way it was.
The season did have its higher points. The idea of a mole in society was interesting. The delicate relationship between a previously imprisoned father and his three children seemed like ready material for stories in the Shannon household. But Terra Nova seems to embrace so fondly the “everything should work out neatly” mentality, which sort of robs the characters who might otherwise be interesting of some of their value.
We might be seeing a second season of Terra Nova—the decision has not yet been made. But if we do, hopefully the series will work toward enriching its characters, its world, and the laws of its reality, and not just kind of pass the time with stories about Zoe’s school play until the explosion-filled finale.
Does anyone think Terra Nova can carry a second season? What might it have in story for adventures to come?
December 19, 2011 7:27pm EST
S1E11/12: Well, there you have it. A season of buildup—scattered hints and occasional insights into the master plan of the renegade son of the prehistoric society’s hard-boiled autocrat—all culminating in a very eventful two-hour season finale of Terra Nova. In short, Lucas, his business associates from the 2100s, and the Sixers wage warfare on Terra Nova and prehistory in general for a handful of motivations. Mira just wants to go back to the future so she can reunite with her daughter. The ecophobic businessmen just want to mine all the resources they can (apply your own political/capitalistic allegorical connotations). And I’m convinced that Lucas’ primary, if not sole motivation, is just the mere drive to undermine and destroy his father.
In fact, the episode is actually a little too eventful. That is to say, I think the story and gravity of the events would have been better served if we had spread all of what we get in the finale out over a few weeks. Sure, the sheer volume of tonight’s activity might heighten the intensity, but this comes at the price of comprehensibility. A show like Terra Nova rarely boasts the quality of being too complicated. But the finale teeters on that line. There is a whole lot going on—so much so that I’m really only going to focus on the broad strokes in this recap. And perhaps this wouldn’t be as big a problem if the show paid more attention to how it delivers its plotlines and characters. But we’ll get to that.
“Last thing I remember is the explosion.” – Jim
“That was three days ago, Jim.” – Liz
If you had forgotten that this was a Steven Spielberg production, this episode does a mighty fine job of reminding you. First of all, it opens with the eleventh pilgrimage delivering a man with a bomb strapped to his torso. When the bomb explodes, we get as dedicated an homage to Saving Private Ryan as I’ve ever seen, with Jim Shannon taking on the role of a deafened Tom Hanks. It’s also moderately important to note—even though it is barely mentioned or even alluded to much after the scenes to immediately follow—that Josh’s long-awaited girlfriend Cara also shows up on this pilgrimage, and is killed by the explosion. But that’s probably just so the show can ship Josh and Skye guiltlessly. Nice work.
Jim finds himself in a the bed of a rundown hospital, three days later—by the count of his wife, who intercepts him leaving the building in a bewildered run-in with two armed soldiers. Liz explains to Jim, and to us, that Lucas, Sixers and co. have overtaken TN in the interim period (we even get a visual of Mira standing on Taylor’s veranda throne), and she bends her new level of authority a bit to send her husband home to see their children. This poses a bit of a problem for the viewer, especially once Mira shows up at Jim’s hospital bed demanding to know where he is. It is pretty unbelievable that such lax security would be the M.O. of a tyrannical militant society three days into its hostile (and well-funded) reign over enemy territory. But whatever, we’ll live.
“They’re the Phoenix group. Private military. Killers for hire.” – Washington Jim sets out on his ad hoc investigation. His first stop: Washington, who is given a hell of a lot more character depth in this episode than she ever had before. Washington was left in charge by Taylor before he set off to oversee the arrival of the 11th, with Jim and the armed forces. After that, Taylor disappeared, extending Washington’s reign. She was forced to surrender when the invaders began killing civilians, and has been in a drunken stupor at Boylan’s as a means of coping with her handing over of the society to this tyrannical movement. But Jim knows how to rally. The mission to strike back is engaged. “You know, you have your father’s eyes.” – Washington While Terra Nova hasn’t always been fair to its minor characters, the season finale seems a lot like an apology letter to each of them: Washington, primarily an expositional character up to this point, is fleshed out and made the episode’s biggest hero when she helps the Shannon family escape from the guards who are hunting them, sacrificing her own life (she is shot dead by Lucas) to ensure the preservation of theirs. Malcolm is redeemed for all of his petty, cowardly and occasionally deceitful behaviors in the actions he takes to prevent the bad guys from following through with their mission…albeit via some pretty passive-aggressive tactics, like working as “slowly as he can” to repair their portal technology when he is forced into their employ. In fairness, he does blow something up, eventually. Then there are the soldiers—the gunmen and Reilly, the bomb-defusing expert—who all have their moments in the sun at one point or another in the episode. The rough-around-the-edges Reilly even gets to display her softer side when she allows Reynolds a break from his shift to spend time with Maddy (which—and I don’t mean to sound like a total jerk here—in a time of climactic guerilla warfare is pretty damn irresponsible). And Skye does everything she can to make up for her malfeasance…it’s hinted that she even engages in some kind of sexual act with the enamored Lucas, who, incidentally, keeps calling her his sister to save Josh’s life after he beats up Emperor Lucas for being inappropriate with her. By the way, what is with TV and incest these past couple of weeks?! Exhibit A (spoilers). Exhibit B (super-spoilers). And now this, kind of…COME ON! “You’re a highly suggestible hypochondriac, Mr. Weaver. I suggest you see a doctor about that. – Liz” But of course, nobody is allowed to steal the show from the Shannons and Taylor. Liz has her moment of badassery when she cons the sleazy businessman of the future into retrieving her kidnapped husband (held by an ever-maddening Lucas) by tricking him into believing she has poisoned him, and then injecting him with a sedative after he has complied. Jim saves the day by outrunning two explosions, one Tyrannosaurus Rex, and singlehandedly taking down an entire troupe of trained military soldiers—he also cuts off all ties with the 2100s (or so we are led to believe, for now) for all of Terra Nova society, which is kind of a double-edged sword. And Taylor finally faces off with his son. Just to make sure we understand that he’s really evil, the show has Lucas manipulate his father with crocodile tears about his mother’s death and the guilt he has shouldered because of it…just before stabbing Taylor when he is at his most vulnerable. The stab is not fatal, but neither is the gunshot wound Lucas incurs courtesy of a nearby Skye (Taylor’s surrogate daughter, who probably just won his favor back).
“That’s what this place is about. It’s about hope and a second chance. We cannot let them take that away from us.” – Liz So, when the episode leaves off, the future and the past are separated indefinitely, Lucas has hightailed it off someplace, and the Sixers have retreated to the mysterious badlands, from whence Jim and co. discover part of a 19th century ship…next season’s mystery: what the hell is going on in the badlands? But more or less, everything turns out okay back in the past. “A thousand people is all we’d have to restart civilization.” – Jim “A thousand people. That’s a good round number.” – Taylor That being said, the show’s Achilles heel is especially prevalent in this episode: it has a lot going on—it has its science fiction aspects, its ecological message, its family-trying-to-survive story, its political themes…but it doesn’t deliver most of them with enough sincerity. When actors are forced into really shallow scenes, spouting really hackneyed dialogue, it ruins the sincerity of what the show might otherwise be very successful in doing: telling a relatable story in a fantasy world. If we see another season of Terra Nova, we have new, more promising mysteries in store. Hopefully, the show will make an effort to bulk up some of its writing to better suit these new, potentially exciting storylines. So what might have brought the ship to the badlands? If there is another time portal, how did it get there? Where does it take you? And who is operating it? And how do the Sixers know about it? And, if they do know about it, why haven’t they tried to activate it previously? I hope you enjoyed this season of Terra Nova! Watch out for sonic waves!
December 12, 2011 7:39pm EST
S1E10: In its own way, tonight’s episode of Terra Nova is actually a pretty interesting story about the evolution of the Terra Nova governing system and the man who upholds it—Nathaniel Taylor. The two entities are one and the same; while anyone in his or her right mind understands that one man having near-absolute power over a society of dozens (hundreds? It can’t be more than a couple hundred) is wholly uncivilized and entirely idiotic. However, the only person on Terra Nova who seems to recognize this flaw is Lucas, Taylor’s banished son who is working on his own two-way portal to head back to the future…where, as we’ve seen—unfortunately—they actually still do need roads.
“The two of us suffer from a Shakespearean relationship that borders on Greek tragedy.” – Lucas
Taylor and Jim are on the hunt for the mole, and they’re zeroing in on Skye. We learned a few weeks back that Taylor has a special place in his heart for Skye, and that he believes her parents are dead. We also learned that Skye is providing intel to the Sixers in return for them treating her very sick (but not dead) mother with their special non-Terra Novian medicine.
Developments this week: Lucas takes over the interactions with Skye, cutting out the middleman of Mira. Lucas is still working on his two-way portal, and needs Skye to use TN’s “The Eye” to pinpoint a specific coordinate or something that seemed like a whole lot of meaningless last-minute pseudo sci-fi in order to put the finishing touches on his device. And she gets him his special piece of data. And everything works out hunky dory. For the “bad guy,” that is.
“He’s a man. Not a god. But don’t tell him that, you’ll hurt his feelings.” – Lucas Beneath the surface of Terra Nova, the Taylor/Taylor’s missing son storyline has been a pretty hot driving force. We never knew exactly what happened between them—although we find out this week that Lucas always blamed his father’s for his mother’s death back in Somalia—and little by little, we’d find out exactly what led up to their current state of separation. Tonight, we finally see present-day Taylor face off with present-day Lucas. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as dramatic or emotionally amplified as we might have hoped. There are stare downs. There are dramatic speeches. But none of it rings as true as it should, considering the fact that this is the primary enmity in the series. As for Skye, Taylor and Jim find out why she has been acting as mole this whole time: the Sixers have her mother. Jim seems to instantly “forgive” Skye, understanding (or at least suggesting that he understands with his drastic change in facial expression) that the girl did what she had to in order to keep her mother alive and safe. The begrudging Taylor is less willing to forgive, although he does resist the banishment of Skye. Additionally, Taylor welcomes back the murderous soldier he expelled into the woods a few weeks back—during Taylor’s recent wilderness trek, he reconnected with the soldier, and employed him as his own mole in the Sixers operation. He managed to bring Skye’s mother to the safety of Terra Nova, where the brilliant Elisabeth so conveniently figured out how to duplicate the Sixers’ meds in order to save her. To me, this kind of seems like a huge plot hole. If this procedure was always available, then why didn’t Skye (who works in the hospital and should know about it) just alert TN to the whereabouts of her mother? If it just became available…then, well, that’s also silly. Either way, the more forgiving, less erratic side of Taylor shows a growth in both the man and a beneficial evolution of the Terra Nova law system: no more throwing people out because you’re in a bad mood.
“Control the past, control the future.” – Lucas (Was it just me, or did anyone else think of “Save the cheerleader, save the world” when Lucas said that?) So, Lucas has managed to develop the two-way time traveler. And, as many of us suspected, the rationale behind it is far more sinister than just “mining for resources.” Lucas ominously tells Skye, “Control the past, control the future,” before completing his device, and shouts to his father, “The next time we meet, I won’t be alone!” right before shooting way back to the 2100s. Next week is the season finale, which means we’ll be seeing more epic showdowns, heightened stakes, and probably a team-up between rivals Jim and Malcolm. But here are the things I’m really wondering: What, beyond the mining of resources, does the future want with the past? How can changing the past effect the future in the reality of this series—if at all? They mentioned in the pilot some theory that averts the well-preserved belief (in sci-fi films) that going back in time and changing anything can be catastrophic. But this can’t be foolproof, if at all accurate. Further, will we see the Sixers team with Terra Nova, like the Mia/Taylor bond we saw a couple of episodes back might have foreshadowed? And, most importantly, will there FINALLY BE SOME DINOSAURS ON THE SHOW FOR MORE THAN, LIKE, A SECOND?
November 28, 2011 7:44pm EST
S1E9: Well, the question is answered. On this week’s episode of Terra Nova, we finally find out who the traitorous Sixer mole is. And no, it’s none of the people I’ve rattled off as suspects in my past recaps. And yes, the choice is a bit more interesting than anyone I predicted. But somehow, I am left feeling unsatisfied by the reveal. Further, I am feeling even more unsatisfied by everything else that goes on in the episode “Now You See Me.” Mainly because, for all intents and purposes, it seems kind of like a whole lot of filler.
“I figure, there’s a parallel universe out there, somewhere, where we are allies.” – Taylor
“I’ve had that thought.” – Mira
The episode opens with a pairing we haven’t really seen before, and one I was kind of excited to explore (before I realized, come the opening theme, that we wouldn’t be seeing much of at all this week): Taylor and Skye, who apparently take annual walks together at the memorial of the latter’s late parents in commemoration.
Just as soon as we are introduced to this unlikely duo are we whisked away from it—Taylor heads out into the wild on a secretive mission, and entrusts the Number One position with Jim—Washington is doing something else…they explain it in passing…I don’t know. Just roll with it.
Taylor’s quest in the wilderness is to examine his renegade son’s rock drawings in order to see if he has made any progress in the development of a two-way time portal: he has. But that’s not all the bad news Taylor gets. He has a run in with Mira (de facto head of the Sixers), who takes him captive and treks him back toward her hideout. And bad news further still: there are a couple of dinosaurs who aren’t too fond of Taylor and Mira traversing through their territory. Long story short, there’s nothing like a dinosaur attack to bring two sworn enemies together.
“It’s no small thing knowing you’ve done right by your child.” – Taylor
The rule of television is, when two characters (especially two characters with a very extreme relationship) are pitted alone together in one location for the entirety of an episode, their opinions of one another will shift quite notably. As Taylor and Mira begin the episode as enemies, this experience causes them to end up admitting a mutual respect for one another. Plus, they bond over the devotion they have to their children—as well as their shared self-denotation as failed parents. Taylor banished his son into the wild when he found out he was a traitor. Mira left her daughter to grow up without her back in 2100, hoping someday to return to her with the financial means to raise her properly (this ties back into the whole “mine prehistory for resources” thing we learned about last week).
Of course, they both get home safely, and with a newfound reverence for each other’s ideologies. And as big a fan as I am of enemies uniting and character-driven episodes, this subplot seems a bit hokey, obvious and without a good deal of real substance.
“How did it feel, wearing the commander’s cap while I was gone?” – Taylor
“I wouldn’t want to do it every day.” – Jim
In other, more extended unlike-duo news, Jim takes his daughter’s soldier boyfriend Reynolds on as his Number Two this week. At the onset of the episode, Jim and Reynolds investigate a scene they believed to be a base of operations for the Sixer’s traitor (which they concluded by tracking down a communications signal leaving from the building). What’s more, Jim and Reynolds find some broken glass and a single drop of blood left in a beaker of some chemical liquid. Jim brings the liquid to his wife, and then to a reluctant Malcolm, in hopes of identifying the subject, but things go a bit awry.
When Liz retrieves the blood beaker from the lab the next morning, she realizes that it has been compromised. This allows them the suggestion that the Sixer’s culprit is someone who has access to the lab. The little information the team can derive is that the subject is a female. These two clues leave only forty-seven possible suspects as the Sixer’s spy.
“Remember. We’re the only ones with the cure.” – Sixer
But of course, we know who it is. We are told quite early on the episode, as a matter of fact, that it is Skye. So early do we find out, that it doesn’t even seem like she could be the spy. Never has such a long-awaited solution to a TV riddle been offered so anticlimactically (except maybe when we learned the identity of Mysterion). But what’s more perplexing is why Skye, of all people, would be working with the Sixers.
Oh, wait. We find that out, too. See, her mom is dying. And the Sixers have her. Apparently, the Sixers are the only ones “with a cure” to save her mom (I take this to mean that they’ll send her back to the 2100s once the technology is available…they don’t have much else in the vein of medical advancements). Skye brings them medicine and information, and they care (liberally) for her mother.
A few weeks back, I made a point of praising Terra Nova for its ability to make us care about two central characters who commanded a subplot of one episode—Skye and Hunter. Back then, I really felt for both of them. But this week, I don’t really have the same attachment to Skye, even though her plotline is more significant and more logically compelling. Skye seems to lack some of the charm that makes her a likable character in other episodes. Maybe she’s too caught up in furthering the plot. But if the plot doesn’t concern characters we love, then it’s not worth furthering.
We find out who the traitor is. Jim progresses in the investigation. Taylor and Mira form some sort of bond, and we learn more about their backstories. All signs point to this being a great, interesting episode. Yet, there’s something missing. The characters may be doing interesting things, but they themselves are not interesting to me this week. In fact, my favorite part of the episode is Reynolds’ nervous professions to Jim about how much he cares for Maddy. That seemed real (cartoonish, but real), and human. We need more human moments in this series, and from that, stories will develop.
November 21, 2011 7:07pm EST
S1E8: I’ve been pretty hard on Terra Nova for some time now. Specifically, I’ve found flaw with the simplistic self-contained plotlines—like Elisabeth getting temporary amnesia, or Maddy getting stuck in a tree with her brawny boyfriend (I also don’t know why I can’t make mention of the character Reynolds without highlighting his physique—not too sure what that’s about). I have also chastised the far-too-thin running story arc of Josh pursuing the retrieval of his girlfriend via the Sixers’ two-way portal. Plus, the dialogue. Oh…the dialogue. So, yeah. Maybe I’ve been a bit hypercritical of Terra Nova. But in all honesty, this week’s episode, “Vs.,” is an hour of television that—while still bearing it share of flaws (some new, some in Terra Nova—I genuinely enjoyed. It’s a little busier than usual. New subplots spring out after every commercial break. And it sure does up the ante on the campy during its “time-killer” moments. But I have to admit, “Vs.” is a fun watch, and a positive step for the series—exemplifying the lengths it is taking to instill both its characters (specifically, Taylor), it mysteries and its whole universe with more than we might have expected.
The episode follows in the recent vein of making us question the governing body of Terra Nova, in two specific ways: one very overt, one very subtle. The central plot of the episode follows Jim’s investigation of Taylor himself for murder of an unidentified individual. After Jim looks in on a delirious Boylan, who has been interrogated and psychologically tortured by Taylor for suspected treason with the Sixers, he finds out from Boylan that Taylor murdered somebody and buried him beneath a tree in the nearby woodlands, five years ago. Jim battles with his own doubts, a contentious Malcolm, and, eventually, Taylor himself in the deliberation over whether or not Terra Nova’s leader could be a murderer, let alone what to do about it.
"If they didn't, then the dragonfly will lead us right to the spy's front door, just as you suggested yesterday." - Malcolm
"If they didn't, and if the dragonfly could fly, but the fly can't fly." - Taylor
In the meantime, Taylor and Malcolm are investigating a prehistoric dragon fly that has been trained to fly a microchip from the Sixers to their TN-based spy, following a specific sound frequency to reach its destinations. After Malcolm figures all of this out and nurtures the bug back to health (it was injured by Reynolds when it flew near a group of young children—its incapacitated state allowed for Malcolm to figure out just what was going on with the bug anyway), he sets it back out so that he and Taylor may track on its quest to the sound frequency and find out who the TN-based mole is. But here’s the thing: at this point, Taylor knows that Jim is onto him, so he sets up a mechanism to deliver the same sound frequency in Jim’s home so that he has grounds to arrest him—now that is government corruption.
"If the people of Terra Nova knew that all of the blood, sweat and tears they put into building this place was built on a lie, and would probably come to absolutely nothing...well, they might as well lay down and die and forget the whole damn thing." - Taylor
The whole ordeal is made pretty much moot by the fact that Jim and Taylor are, like, best friends. Taylor confesses everything to Jim while he’s in custody—without all that much provocation, by the way—and then allows him to go free. This is really a “Coming to his senses” scene, but considering the lengths the man went to, it seems a little bit like a “Did he just forget what he was doing?” scene. Anyway, Taylor admits some pretty pertinent information—flashback: his son Lucas comes back to TN on the second pilgrimage, but his intentions are to develop a two-way portal so that the 2100s could mine TN for resources (or so Taylor says…I have a feeling something far more diabolical is afoot). The government then sends back Taylor’s mentor, a 2100s General, to replace him and cooperate with their paradise-paving ploy. Unbeknownst to the one-armed general, apparently, his handicap is a pretty big detriment in close-range duels. He draws a gun on Taylor, but Taylor is quicker and manages to shoot and kill him. Subsequently, Taylor banishes his own son after realizing his malfeasance, telling him he never wants to see him again.
So now we know the “What happened with Taylor and his son” backstory, which has been pretty much the biggest driving force of the series. The drawings on the rocks are also explained: they are Lucas’ plans for a two-way portal, which he draws on rocks in the woods to taunt his father (or so Taylor assumes).
"Good friends, family, loved ones...we're all in this together. Without all of you, I'd have nothing." - Taylor
We still don’t know who the Sixers’ mole is, but my hunch is the same as it was from the get-go: Washington. There might be a few things that contradict this, most notably her capture by the Sixers in an early episode. But there’s something about the way she pops into frame in this episode, twice—both in scenes when the spy is sort of, but not too obviously, being discussed. I’m going to have to go with my gut on this one and favor the language of the camera over logical in-universe signs. And anyway, there aren’t too many other major characters available as possibilities. With Boylan out, Malcolm too easy a choice, and Reynolds not really interesting enough to be a Sixer spy, Washington remains my bet.
The Harvest Festival framing is a genuinely interesting way to illustrate the theme of this episode (plus, the whole thing ends with an elaborate fireworks show...which really, can't at all be a bad idea in a society surrounded by dinosaur-infested woods). The Terra Novans celebrate Taylor as the messiah: he is their savior, their leader, their pioneer. But, as only the ones with names know, he’s also a really messed up, emotionally damaged, anything-but-infallible head case with a power trip and a god complex and a whole bunch of other reasons why he shouldn’t be a totalitarian leader (including the one simply fact that no one should ever be a totalitarian leader). Taylor is married to his mission to preserve Terra Nova, and his understanding of how to do so allows for no substitutes as its absolute leader—this is trouble, no matter where his heart lies. And although things wrap up nicely for Jim and Taylor this time, I predict that will not always be the case from now on.
portal that two-way portal should be ready any time now.
November 14, 2011 8:15pm EST
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.
November 07, 2011 8:40pm EST
S1E6: Oh, Terra Nova. You’re nearing the point where I can no longer “focus on the positives.” To be fair, this week’s episode is not completely without its strengths—there is one particular thing that “Nightfall” offers that I find to be a noteworthy plus. But surrounding that is a pretty substantial sum of negative. Now, I know it’s in poor taste to be this dismissive of a show, especially one as ambitious and high-concept as Terra Nova is. But it seems to me that the series is banking all of its energy on maintaining the air of said high-concept (a bunch of people from the deteriorating Earth of the 2100s travel back in time through a one-way portal set up by the otherwise oppressive government to start anew amongst the dinosaurs in a socialistic autocracy led by a rage-aholic with a dead wife and a renegade son who is somehow linked to the terroristic Sixers who live off in the woods and attack once in a while via help from their man on the inside, all in a space-time continuum that somehow can’t alter the future, unless it can—we’re not really sure), while not investing any real strength of creativity in the characters or their storylines. I will attempt to elaborate below.
“Sonic wave. SONIC WAVE!” – Taylor
A meteor takes out all the power in Terra Nova. Naturally, every single member of the Shannon family is in as compromising a position as can be imagined: Jim and young Zoe are trapped in the Eye (basically a subterranean interactive IMAX theater). Maddy and her hulking soldier boyfriend Reynolds are stranded out in the woods—his car and gun are also dead. Elisabeth is amid a risky surgery on Hunter, friend of Josh and his will-they-won’t-they Skye (who remains by Hunter’s side). And Josh himself gets pretty much no screen time, “helping” his seedy bartender boss fix a power chip that can create other power chips (meta), which can be then distributed amongst TN to supply the civilians with powered-up electronics.
Jim and Zoe, Stuck Underground
Jim actually rubs me the wrong way in this episode. Before the meteor, his intention is to take his youngest daughter—the one who barely knows him—to experience a special, educational, inspirational day with him. Once the power is out, he figures that one of them (the smaller one) needs to crawl through a tight passageway under the room to the outside and open the door. I won’t get into the fact that Jim basically manipulates his six year-old daughter into crawling through a shaft of unknown hazards from which he would not be able to rescue her. But this story would be better suited if the show attacked the idea that Zoe still isn’t too familiar with her father, who has been in jail most of her life. Perhaps he could try to comfort her, and she could resist, earning anxiety and anger within him for his time spent away from his family. It’s a longshot to hope for these things, I guess…but they’re certainly better than Zoe Faces Her Fear of Potential Spiders storylines.
Maddy and Reynolds, Sitting in a Tree
I don’t know how to feel about a subplot that literally has two people, sitting in a tree, kissing…the fact that they are covered entirely in mud, and anticipating death by raptor makes up for it a bit. Maddy and Reynolds have their moments of sweetness together—and it all feels more worthwhile due to the fact that we were made to understand that Maddy was pretty socially inept in 2100s society. But when you have two people spending an entire episode together, hiding and talking, and don’t progress anywhere with their characters beyond the fact that they finally kiss, it seems all for naught. Call me a TV traditionalist, but two people stuck in one place for an entire episode should lead to some deep reveals or harsh realizations about one another. A kiss can be the tag on any old episode.
Liz and Skye, Performing Surgery on Hunter
And here is the episode’s saving grace: Skye and Hunter, the latter of whom you probably barely even remember from previous episodes. Hunter contracts a pretty disgusting parasite and needs to undergo surgery—due to the whole no electronics thing, he can only receive a local anesthetic, so he’s awake the whole time. This is the best part of the episode because it makes headway in the significance of the Terra Nova community: I actually care about Hunter and Skye, a suffering boy and the friend who cares for him (and for whom he cares in a much different way), despite having spent minimal time with them. They are not members of the Shannon family, nor of the TN upper echelon, like Taylor, Washington and Malcolm. They’re just two average kids without much else in this crazy world but one another. And it works. I care that Hunter loves Skye and I care that she only thinks of him as a brother, but needs him desperately to fill this brotherly role. These characters actually work, because there is pain in them. The Shannons are all pretty well off, and more or less work to further the central sci-fi/political/mystery plots. But Skye and Hunter tug on the heartstrings. Even if it has to be attached to two minor characters, I hope to see and feel more of this in future episodes.
Taylor vs. The Sixers
Remember that box that Taylor and Malcolm acquired from Mira and co. a couple of weeks back? Well, it’s important now. And when the Sixers realize that TN has no power, they use a dinosaur-attack decoy to sneak in and steal back the box. The payoff: Mira actually gets the box and delivers it to Taylor’s estranged son, who lives alone in the woods. We don’t know what exactly they are, but the box displays computer images of his “beautiful” plan. The kid has gone nuts, hates his dad, and is hell-bent on completing his project. But honestly…he’d better get to it soon, because my interest in the destruction/preservation of this basically characterless world is slipping.