TV Wasteland: Steven Spielberg Presents Land of the Lost -

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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 ( 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.


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Dazzler 9/26/2011 4:26:13 AM

I guess it is a Land of the Lost rip.  I will watch anyway.  

axia777 9/26/2011 5:17:32 AM

 This show will kick all mighty ass. We will watch every episode like addicts. We will LOVE it. Then after ONE season it will be CANCLED. Why? Fox execs are ASSHOLES. They hate things that are not main stream because Fox is run by a bunch of conservative dillhole Republicans. Why do you think a show about rebellion like Fire Fly lasted one season but a show about a do gooder govenment guy like 24 lasts forever even though it is CRAP? FUKK YOU FOX. I hope Fox goes bankrupt.

Brown coats forever!!

jackwagon 9/26/2011 5:25:30 AM

I won't even acknowledge axia's absurd post with a response.

Except to say, that while Fox has a history of treating sci-fi shows badly, are they really any worse than NBC (The Event, Knight Rider, Bionic Woman, etc), ABC (FlashForward, Invasion, etc), or CBS (Threshold).  I've never really understood why Fox should be singled out among the Big Four as the crappiest of the bunch. 

karas1 9/26/2011 5:54:56 AM

The difference is that The Event, Knight Rider and Bionic Woman sucked and Firefly did not.

The problem with Fierfly is that it was ahead of it's time.  It was so different from anything else that the TV execs didn't know what to do with it.  They wanted Whedon to repeat his success with Buffy and Angel and the show they got was so unexpected that they were flumoxed by it.

Not that this is an excuse.  But I think Fierfly is more of an acquired taste.  They were expecting a Big Mac and got fillet with lobster butter and chopped wallnuts instead.  They didn't think their fast food audience would want foodie fare.  They could have had the next X-Files and wound up with a bad reputation instead.

Wiseguy 9/26/2011 7:07:54 AM

axia, weren't you the one crying and threatening to leave because people were talking politics ? I guess your senseless diatribes are exempt

Fox actually has green lit some of the most daring "genre" shows for a while, if the ratings don't meet expectations then the axe will fall. It isn't wether they're good or not, it's wether or not people watch them. Terra Nova is a big gamble because of the cost to produce the show, so yeah if it isn't a decent hit I'd expect it to be canned.

isgrimner 9/26/2011 8:09:12 AM

Well, I hope the future of genre TV doesn't rest on Tera Nova.  The premise doesn't really hook me that much,  I'll give it a shot though. 

All the networks seem to cancel shows I like, even the pay ones like HBO cut short Carnivale right after I discovered it and got into it.  At least Fox has kept Fringe on even if they did move it to Friday.

millean 9/26/2011 9:42:03 AM

First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.





jackwagon 9/26/2011 9:43:09 AM


Well put.  I actually gave Firefly a couple episodes when it premiered, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.  Admittedly, I never was much of a Whedon fan either, but I went into it with an open mind.  But it still failed to lure me in.

Also, I think it's worth noting that Fox nearly did cancel 24 halfway through the first season, but they chose to stick with the show.  It didn't really catch ratings fire until about season 4, which if memory serves was similar to The X-Files when it moved to Sunday nights.

millean 9/26/2011 9:46:34 AM

Oh yeah, hope Terra Nova does well, but it doesn't really seem like a show I would be that into.  Maybe I'll check it out and give it a chance.

On a semi-related note, I have all of the Falling Skies episodes on my DVR.  Is it worth watching or should I just delete them and move on?  (I thought the first couple of episodes were only so-so).

karas1 9/26/2011 10:01:23 AM

Millean, watch Falling Skies.  I agree that the first coupld of episodes weren't spactacurlar.  But I found that it get better with each episode.  They left it on such a cliffhanger that I can't wait till next summer to see what happens.  And we don't have to worry about it coming back.  It apparently had great ratings and is already renewed.

Jackwagon, I actually didn't much care for Firefly at first either.  I wanted too.  I loved Buffy and Angel.  I watched several episodes but it didn't grab me.  Only after watching the series rebroadcast on Syfy did I become a fan.  Having seen all the spisodes now, the very first one I saw is my least favorite and not quite of the quality of the others IMHO.  And the ones that Fox never got around to broadcasting were definitely the best of the bunch.  C'est la vie.

Going to watch Terra Nova, hope it's good.

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