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TV Wasteland: Steven Spielberg Presents Land of the Lost
Otherwise known as Terra Nova…
By Rob Vaux
September 25, 2011
The biggest gamble of the season lands on Fox Monday as Steven Spielberg unveils a new dino-centric series that could make or break genre programming for years to come. Terra Nova posits a time-travel scenario where future residents of a ravaged Earth journey back to the Cretaceous Period and attempt to eke out a new “future” for mankind. There’s a lot to get excited about – putting the words “Spielberg” and “dinosaurs” together creates a magic tingle, and the presence of Avatar bad-ass Stephen Lang in the cast sets a lot of concerns at ease.
On the other hand, the show also raises some troubling questions. How convincing will the effects be? Will they overwhelm the storyline? Conversely, will budgetary constraints leave us with nothing but people shouting at each other amid the ferns and palm trees? Then there’s the show’s supposed centerpiece of an “ordinary family” in these surroundings… prompting hideous visions of dating issues and workplace rivalries while velociraptors run rampant around them.
The biggest concern is that Terra Nova is on Fox, which does not treat struggling genre shows kindly. A nightmare scenario entails a great show, middling ratings and a time slot that bounces from day to day before an agonizing cancellation watch midway through the season (aka Firefly redux). As we said, it’s a risk: for the show, for the network and for any fans who tune in. But it also qualifies as something a little different in an era when the Big Four Networks are hedging their bets in every conceivable way. In the spirit of good television, we wish it all the best. We’ll all see what it has to show us this Monday night, September 26, at 8:00 PM EDT.
Terra Nova (Fox, 8:00 PM EDT)
It’s Spielberg! It’s dinosaurs! It’s people in jungles looking vexed! It’s all those things and more! But mostly it’s dinosaurs. See the top of the article for more.
Alphas (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Syfy caps an evening of Alphas reruns with a new episode, featuring increased Red Flag activity against the Department of Defense.
Death Valley (MTV, 10:30 PM EDT)
One of John-John’s family members becomes a zombie – bummer – and the local vamps come up with creative new ways to get their O-positive fix.
The Wolfman (Cinemax, 8:15 PM EDT)
Benicio Del Toro always looks so pained in his movies. Must be what makes him such a good monster.
Hatchet II (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
As I said, I haven’t seen Hatchet I, so I have no idea if this is worth a second dip. Anyone got the word on it? Is Kane Hodder ready for prime time?
Hard Candy (IFC, 7:00 PM EDT)
Keep your mitts off the wee ones, Internet pervs, or Ellen Page will show up with spiked drinks and castration tools. Seriously.
American Psycho (IFC, 9:15 PM EDT)
Just avoid eye contact and smile vacuously when he starts gushing about Huey Lewis. It will be better for everyone that way.
Alice in Wonderland (Starz, 7:00 PM EDT)
All that is great and all that is horrible about Tim Burton can be found here in equal amounts. Also, Helena Bonham Carter sports an enormous head.
Eureka is all over. Warehouse 13 is off this week.
The Mummy (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
My, that Brendan Fraser is swashbuckling, isn’t he?
Inception (Cinemax, 7:30 PM EDT)
You need 3D in order to ensure that a film is a hit… especially if it’s intellectually challenging and not based on previous material. Otherwise, no one will ever see a movie like that.
Independence Day (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
In the midst of all the snickering about the aliens in this film being Mac compatible, we lose the equally risible development that involves their massive ship being taken out by a freaking crop duster…
Enchanted (Disney, 8:30 PM EDT)
Amy Adams is awesome. That is all.
Predator 2 (FMC, 10:00 PM EDT)
It’s still making the rounds; maybe they’ll bring out the original Predator at some point to remind us all why we cut the sequel so much slack.
P2 (Syfy , 7:00 PM EDT)
Workaholics: please note that staying too late at the office may put you in disturbingly close contact with Wes Bentley. Fairly warned thee be, says I.
The Devil’s Advocate (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Syfy really likes this one, and there’s good reason too… if only they didn’t remove all the objectionable language. Al Pacino and the word “fuck” have a really beautiful thing going.
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Hawaii has ghosts? What do they do, hover over the luaus and put everyone off their poi? In any case, the team head off to investigate in between lounging on beautiful white sand beaches.
Push (Showtime, 7:00 PM EDT)
Chris Evans leads a fairly good cast in a simple but underrated effort about people with psychic powers being hunted by the government. Not a showstopper, but worth a look if you haven’t seen it before.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (IFC, 7:00 PM EDT)
Shall I quote something for you, or do you wanna do it yourself?
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
There’s nothing sadder than a would-be blockbuster that bombs like the Enola Gay.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EDT)
Amy and Leonard hook up for a wedding date, while Bernadette once again faces down Howard’s mother in her den. No word on any cool guest stars this week.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
In an attempt to cash in on that sweet Boardwalk Empire karma, The Vampire Diaries heads back to Prohibition to see what its resident bloodsuckers were up to back then.
The Secret Circle (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
“Adam gets jealous when Cassie brings a hot date to the dance.” So says TV Guide. Just makes you want to start burning people at the stake doesn’t it?
Alien Resurrection (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
Sigourney Weaver is terrific. The rest of the film? Not so much. (Okay, there’s Ron Perlman too.)
Hereafter (HBO, 9:00 PM EDT)
Clint Eastwood has made a staggering number of terrific pictures. This is not one of them.
Dawn of the Dead (Syfy, 6:30 PM EDT)
Zack Snyder does justice to George A. Romero’s masterpiece, though twenty years from now, I know which version I’ll still be watching.
Dead Silence (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Ventriloquist’s dummies are really creepy. Really REALLY creepy.
Fringe (Fox, 9:00 PM EDT)
Okay, how’s this for funky: the team hunts a serial killer in the parallel universe with help from his “real world” counterpart (who presumably isn’t crazy at all).
Nikita (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
Nikita makes contact with Owen again: on the hunt for Division’s hidden mastermind. Also, she kills some people.
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
Sam is freely hallucinating thanks to the busted wiring in his skull, even as Casiel discovers that limitless power isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Haven (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Season 2 comes to an end as the dead return to Haven and clear up various bits of unfinished business.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon, 8:00 PM EDT)
I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but Jar Jar makes an appearance this week. Just sayin’.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold (Cartoon, 6:00 PM EDT)
The Caped Crusader cashes in some favors to help track down the Atom, who is missing.
Young Justice (Cartoon, 6:30 PM EDT)
Artemis and Robin have to defend the team’s headquarters from an unknown attacker.
The Shining (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
The little girls in this movie are so creepy that 30 years later (with this week’s Dream House), horror movies are still copying the technique.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Cinemax, 8:10 PM EDT)
Except for a brief cameo in The Rundown, I believe this was Schwarzenegger’s last film before he became governor.
Cloverfield (MTV, 10:00 PM EDT)
Annoying characters aside, this film is far better than it has any right to be.
Piranha (Showtime, 9:30 PM EDT)
This one too.
Doctor Who (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
The Doctor is scheduled to die and River Song gets married? Sounds like a red-letter day. Check out our blog, Confessions of a Neowhovian (www.neowhovian.com) for the skinny.
2001: A Space Odyssey (Sundance, 7:30 PM EDT)
They simply don’t get any better than this: Stanley Kubrick’s epic masterpiece about humanity’s capacity to transcend its brutish nature.
TRON: Legacy (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
It’s not 2001, but Disney’s sequel to their world-inside-the-computer movie continues to hold me in its thrall.
I Am Number Four (Showtime, 9:00 PM EDT)
This well-meaning teen sci-fi mash-up has some good things going for it, but can’t quite assemble them into a coherent whole.
Valentine (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
Syfy’s usual Saturday night crap fest kicks off with a derivative slasher film about a killer who goes on a Valentine’s Day-related rampage. Denise Richards is in it, for those who care.
My Bloody Valentine (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
This remake of the 1981 slasher film, on the other hand, is kind of fun… though without the “comin’ at ya” 3D effects, it loses a lot of its charm.
The premiere of Terra Nova repeats tonight at 8:00 PM EDT on Fox, in case anyone missed it the first time.
Dexter (Showtime, 9:00 PM EDT)
The serial-killer-with-a-heart-of-gold series returns for a sixth season, involving Dexter’s high school reunion and the possibility that his antics may serve a higher purpose.
Se7en (AMC, 7:00 PM EDT)
Seriously, AMC? You’re going to try to sanitize this one so our dainty little minds aren’t too traumatized? Doesn’t that miss the whole freaking point?!
Sweeney Todd (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Tim Burton scores his best film in years – and gets Johnny Depp another Oscar nomination – in his adaptation of the grand guignol musical.
Teeth (IFC, 10:30 PM EDT)
If you’re in the mood for something different, check out this brilliant little horror film about a chaste young Christian girl who discovers serrated teeth growing in her… well, that would be telling.
Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Apocalypse (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT)
No one will mistake them for high art, but the Resident Evil films have a simple, gritty appeal that’s earned them more than their share of fans over the years.