EPISODE REVIEW: Terra Nova: “Nightfall” (Episodes 6)

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Last week, as you’ll recall, the show was actually *GOOD.* For this, they were rewarded with six and a half million viewers, down almost two million from the week before, but up one and a half million from the week before that. Baseball and Halloween have played merry hell with their ratings, and given the insane budget on this show, it’s anyone’s guess whether it’ll stabilize at a high-enough level to justify a second season.

But let’s not concern ourselves with that. Was last week a fluke, or has the show finally found its feet?

Sadly, nope.

PLAY BY PLAY

It’s your normal morning in E.P.C.O.T. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WZW4groJro
( Not to be confused with Epcot ) - seriously, is it just me or does Terra Nova feel like a theme park? Disney’s Dinosaur World and Tennis Resort, Opening Soon in Longboat Key, Sarasota Florida! They make a point of showing everyone in the Shannon family split off, so, of course you know something’s going to happen that will *keep* them isolated. How many times have we seen this kinda’ thing?

So: Maddy slips out of town with her boyfriend Matt; Mom goes to the hospital, ‘cuz that’s her job; Josh goes to work at the bar, ‘cuz that’s his job; Jim goes to the library computer to kill time ‘cuz really he doesn’t have a job. He’s just this guy, y’know? He just hangs out with the boss for some reason.

The disaster strikes: Big meteor falls from space and explodes. This creates an Electromagnetic Pulse, which I’m pretty sure is impossible. This, then, causes all electronics in Terra Nova to fry, regardless of whether or not they’re on or off, which, again, I’m pretty sure is impossible.

So Maddy and Matt have to sneak back into town, and end up spending the night in a tree together. Josh does nothing, really, because, ehm, well, he’s kinda’ dull. Jim, meanwhile, is trapped with Zoe in the library computer, and has to make her get all David Hedison and stuff so she can crawl through an air vent and rescue them. Meanwhile, some guy we’ve never heard of before, but it supposed to be everyone’s best friend, has a thirty-foot intestinal parasite. Since they’ve lost power to their biobeds, they have to grab the thing and pull it out like you’re winding up a kite string. A really long, gooey kite string.

MEANWHILE, in the actual real plot of this episode, which has been laying in wait while a ton of unrelated crap was going on for 40 minutes or so, Mira and the Sixers stampede the gates with a dinosaur while her folks sneak in to steal The Box. This they then do, and a big fight ensues in which Boylan kills one attacker, and Jim utterly fails to stop the other one from getting away. He’d be an embarrassment to his job, if he actually had one. Taylor resolves to look for the mole. Meanwhile, Mira meets up with Taylor’s prodigal son, who’s been holed up in the jungle for several years, and gives him The Box.

It opens and projects some nonsense displays. He takes it, and leaves saying Taylor will have to choose between him or the colony.

The End

OBSERVATIONS

Yeah, that was pretty disappointing. It didn’t feel so much like a story as it did several bits of other stories that got chopped, and ended up bundled here. Counting them, we’ve got (1) The EMP thing (2) The Parasite (3) Stuck in the woods (4) Jim trapped in a room (5) Mira’s attack. Each is relegated to subplot-length, which is to say none are really developed, and some of them are oddly truncated. For instance, the Jim/Zoe plot is resolved way too easily and way too quickly, and has no consequences. The Maddy/Matt plot (In which nothing happens) disappears for five or ten minutes at a time, before they remember it’s going on. The Mira/Box plot, which is really the only interesting thing in the episode, likewise gets less than ten minutes of screen time, and half of *that* is a fight sequence. So, structurally, it’s kind of a mess.

None of which I’d *mind* so much, if it weren’t for the stupid intestinal parasite thing. Firstly, it’s too gross for a family show (One of my kids ran from the room, another closed his eyes during those scenes), and secondly it…goes…on….forever. It gets at least ten minutes. Of course it doesn’t *matter,* it’s just something they keep coming back to in order to fill time. Which they don’t need to fill because they’ve got plenty of stuff (Mostly useless) going on elsewhere in this ep. So every other story gets short shrift so we can keep coming back to the most boring character on the show helping out a character we’ve never seen before, but that everyone claims is great, all so Skye can get a few lines.

Imagine it’s Star Trek: TOS, and they decide to spend 1/4th of an episode following the adventures of Yoeman Rand and Mister Kyle, while more or less ignoring a plot about a Romulan Attack, and you’ll get an idea how frustrating this is.

Granted: Skye really is neato, but c’mon, folks! Story, please.

In the reality check department: meteors don’t cause EMP. EMP doesn’t generally knock out things that are turned off, either. It seems extremely unlikely to me that they’d have electronics for *everything* up to and including guns. I was a little surprised they didn’t say their hunting knives had chips in ‘em. Just the same, the whole Y2K misadventure was pretty easily resolved, again with no real consequences. The whole episode just kinda’ feels like makework.

Ok, so because of the EMP, they’ve lot power, and electronics. When they get the chip and plug it into the biobed, why does it turn back on? They’ve *Still* lost power, right?

I’m certainly hoping there’s a point to “The Eye” library computer. It seems a conspicuously pointless thing to bring up otherwise.

Actually, despite its general uselessness, the Maddy/Matt plot was the best of the bunch. It was kinda’ sweet, it didn’t feel terribly forced, there was some chemistry, and while a couple lines were over-written (“I can die now!”), it was just sort of laid-back fun. At least compared to endless scenes of parasite-wrapping. Of course when they kissed, my daughter said “Eww! Now they’ve got mouths full of mud!”

Back during the premier, I said that Guzman was the mole. Since he hasn’t been seen since then, I retract that guess. I’ve been assuming Boylan is the mole, but now I’m thinking he might just be a scheming opportunist playing all sides against the middle. Up until this episode, I didn’t like him, but his ramble about erecting a statue of himself riding a Pegasus and holding a bottle of booze, then saving Taylor’s life had just the right note of dash to it. He shows promise.

Once again Taylor gets in a big fight. I’m not saying he isn’t wiry, or anything, and the “He’s a big bastard, isn’t he?” like was really funny, but come on, the dude’s like sixty, and he appears QUITE a bit skinnier than he did in Avatar. Somewhat less imposing. I’m not saying he couldn’t kick my ass five ways from Sunday, but I’m just saying that having someone’s grandpa beat up guys half his age every week is perhaps straining credulity a bit. That said, I *DO* like that he’s such a badass that he doesn’t even give it any thought. Going into the fight with that tiny little knife, for instance.

Taylor’s son has scars running up the back of his head into his hairline, an obvious nod to the character Stephen Lang played in that movie.

Uhm…yeah. I think that’s it. I thought I had something else to say, but…oh! Yeah! I remember! In the dinosaur attack, one of my kids said “This is CGI, right? It’s not a rubber suit monster? ‘Cuz Godzilla is more realistic than this.” While he’s overstating it, both he an the republispouse agreed that the dino not only looked fake, but it looked embarrassingly so.

I’m pretty sure the mole is either Malcolm (Which presents logical problems) or Taylor’s executive officer chick.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Yeah, sure, why not.? Go for it.

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