Terra Nova -104 “What Remains”
I am trying really hard to like Terra Nova, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park meets Avatar tv show but after four episodes I am pretty close to throwing in the towel. My god…the writing. It hurts my brain.
Whats been surprising about Terra Nova which showed signs of promise in its pilot is that after two further episodes, they seem to have absolutely no idea what to do with the setting and have resorted to the most contrived and tired plot devices to carry the show. Episode 3 had a flock of bats, bats!, harassing the Shannon family and this week we got the dreaded amneisa episode. Nothing says that you’re going through the motions more than an episode of a show where a character has amnesia for 40 minutes.
Almost everything about this show is terrible. They seemed to have lucked out and actually got a couple of likeable people playing the roles of Jim and Elisabeth Shannon but they are given very little to work with. After spending about four hours of airtime with these people, I challenge anyone to describe their characteristics beyond their occupation and what they look like. They’re really, really bland.
The entire family is infuriatingly uncurious about their surroundings. You just travelled 50 million years into the past and live in a community surrounded by dinosaurs and by episode two of this series no one is shown to be the least bit curious about their surroundings. Even the daughter who is given the Lisa Simpson character and is meant to be book smart and academic seems disinterested. She just rattles off facts that she knew already and chases boys. Are you really going to make a show that has goddamn dinosaurs in it and have the stories taken up with amnesia, bats and other crap that you can do in any show? The son is sneaking out of the compound not to see if he can check out a cool dinosaur but to find a way to reunite with his girlfriend. Goddamit, Spielberg.
Homeland – Pilot
I started watching Homeland, a Showtime production that is a remake of an Israeli television show. It tells the story of an American prisoner of war Nicholas Brody who is discovered in 2011 and returned home to be showered in glory by an adoring nation. He is particularly useful to the American military who find that after the death of Osama Bin Laden, the case for a strong military prescense in Afghanistan is becoming less and less popular. Meanwhile, a CIA operative Carrie Mathison, played by Clare Danes, suspects that Brody is in fact a plant who has been turned by a terrorist cell who intend to use him as part of an attack on American soil.
What a pleasant surprise and breath of fresh air this show has been. It’s a wonderful tonic when watched immediately after Terra Nova. The tone and overarching story is presented very early and the will he/won’t he mystery regarding Brody is intriguing one that is hard to predict. The show has some really interesting characters – not least of which are the two primary ones. Damien Lewis is fantastic in his portrayal of Brody as a man who is struggling to adjust with life after prolonged captivity. His trauma, twitches and idiosyncracies are all believable and engaging to watch. As for Carrie Mathison, she is not your typical secret agent protagonist. Mathison has some serious baggage. She has a drug dependancy that she hides from her work, she sleeps around and is rather short with people. Although well-meaning she is certainly not entirely likable.
There are two primary concerns regarding this show. The central conceit of whether Brody is a terrorist is one that, if handled poorly, will effectively kill the series dead. The eventual revelation at the end of the season could potentially end up like The Killing, another Showtime show from earlier in the year which had an absolutely awful red herring ending. The other concern is that some of the writers and producers of 24 are behind Homeland so there is every chance this show could go down the path of mountain cougars, multiple kidnappings and other stupid shit. Lets hope there’s a producer there who’s able to handle the reigns and reel in any silliness that gets suggested.
The Curse of Being A Late Adopter
I know there are a lot of critically acclaimed shows that I intend to get around to watching but hardly ever do. And sometimes, the sheen of a promising new show can wear off and I’ve effectively missed the bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong, although I was late to watching The Wire, it was still an incredible show and age has done nothing to dampen its quality over the years.
However, there are other shows that start off promisingly but I believe have overstayed their welcome and my lateness in watching them mean I’ve missed the boat entirely. I remember hearing a lot of good stuff about Prison Break but never got around to watching it during the first season. Now that I know that dude broke in and out of prison four goddamn times, I can’t be bothered to watch the show at all. Or Dexter. A show about a serial killer sounds really fresh and original. What’s this? He’s been serial killing for six freaking seasons and is in contract negotiations for Season 7? Well that kind of takes the suspense out of it. Breaking Bad has a terminally ill man who desperately resorts to making drugs. Well, he’s been terminally ill for four seasons and is in line for a fifth (and possibly sixth). Was he misdiagnosed or what?
Of all the shows that I hear talked about nowadays, I think its Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire that intrigue me the most. I better get moving and start watching before I miss the boat again.