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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Terra Nova: Birds of a Feather, Flock Together ... Then Try to Kill You!

Terra Nova
Episode 103

We're back with the Shannon family travels in the Terra Nova colony.   Just a side note/rhetorical question, but how long do we think it'll be before the interactive Terra Nova ride is unveiled in Orlando? 

Some people are giving the show flack over its CGI and rubbery looking dino birds but, c'mon, the show is still light years beyond what TV has traditionally put out in this genre. Also, we're not talking about a Summer blockbuster release, we're dealing with an episodic endeavor on broadcast television. A little suspension of disbelief is in order.  Let's discuss the episode after the jump...

Overview.  The Terra Nova colony is being overrun with little pterosaurs (I guess they're miniature Pterodactyls?) who have returned to get their sweet, sweet love bird making on only to find the colony has been built on their breeding ground.  And they're pissed about it.  After attacking and killing the members of a returning supply truck, the nasty birds really wreck the mojo of Jim and Elisabeth who are trying to get their freak on any chance they can get nuisance Zoe out of their bed.  Stupid kids.  Anyway, nerd scientist Malcolm Wallace is working with Elisabeth to engineer a secret love potion for the birds which will drive them crazy and allow them to be led away from the colony.  Badass Incorporated (made up of Cmdr Taylor and Jim) drive the pheromone concoction out into the woods, well away from the settlement and some how make it back without being pecked to death by the horny birds.   

The Adult Shannons.  Jim has been tasked by Cmdr Taylor to ferret out the Sixer mole(s) in the colony.  He also is trying to return to normal marital relations with Elisabeth, who is willing, but is being stymied but Zoe constantly crawling into bed.  After the screeching birds interrupt his Al Green CD for the second night in a row, Jim, followed by Josh, trying scattering the birds with yelling scat like their cats on a fence from an old cartoon) and throwing rocks.  This rock throwing really pisses off the birds and seems to serve as a catalyst for the birds becoming aggressive from this point on. Elisabeth meanwhile is dealing with Taylor's demands to figure out what these birds are, what they want and how they can be stopped.  I thought she was a medical doctor, not a dino vet person? Shouldn't they have brought one or two long during one of the 10 pilgrimages?  I guess Dr Malcolm Wallace qualifies. He also is an old flame of Elisabeth's and, as Jim learns later on, specifically recruited Elisabeth to Terra Nova. Jim deduces that Malcolm thought Jim would still be in prison and Elisabeth would look to Malcolm for some rekindled romantic comfort.  Jim is at first jealous but clearly moves into an "amused, I can totally kick you ass" place over the course of the episode.  And he's right, Malcolm is a total weenie and I don't think we're going to have to worry about Elisabeth being tempted.  At the episode's wrap-up, Jim's triumphant return from the pheromone race with Cmdr Taylor serves as just the right kind of turn on for Elisabeth; when they return home to find their kids sleeping all over the living room, she takes him into the boudoir for a little bow-chicka-bow-bow which, I think is fine but it is the middle of the day and the walls of the house are translucent and your kids are going to totally hear you doing it.  So, nice Jim and Elisabeth. Just get a room at the Terra Nova Sheraton and do your business there.

The Shannon Kids.  Josh is still a weenie teenage but he's better this week. He is totally responsible for tipping the dino birds over the edge by throwing a rock at them. On top of that, he is also trying to score a 21st century guitar from the Terra Colony flea market but (i) has no money), (ii) doesn't understand the Terra Nova economic system; and (iii) has only his super special necklace from his super special girlfriend who he abandoned in the 2149 year wasteland.  Super hot Skye continues to like Josh, for some reason, and even tried to engineer a cheesy bet which would allow her to front the money for the guitar without damaging his angsty teenage boy honor.  She's hot but clearly has issues.  Maddie is still a nerd and is a total gunner during survival training led by Cmdr Taylor's right hand woman Lt. Alicia Washington (who is referred to as "Wash", we will too) and Maddie's crush, Reynolds.  If Reynolds is some kind ranking Terra Nova military officer, his Maddie googly eyes are a little creeper, no?  Zoe ... is a kid that plays with dangerous Venus fly trap plants and ruins her parents sexy time.  She also almost gets her brother killed when she doesn't get hide in the bedroom at the climax of the episode thereby forcing her brother to out and get her and fight off the attacking dino birds.

So, this was an example of what I think most episodes will be like; a crisis of the week driven by a dino threat or Sixer attack, with light mythology reveals (I think most meaty mythology reveals will come in mythology explicit episodes), that will be reflected in the individual story lines of the Shannon family (e.g., bird attack while Josh is with Skye, or Reynolds with Maddie, or Zoe playing with the killer animal or Jim having to fight it or Elisabeth cure whatever ill it brings forth).  There has been a lot of talk on other sites about the lack of show me, don't tell me storytelling with respect to some of the purported action scenes.  I can see where people want to see Jim and Taylor dropping off the pheromone payload in the forest with the dino birds in hot pursuit but I am not so worried about this issue. I think the show did a did a decent job of conveying the worry in Jim returning from the mission with Elisabeth's body language and creepy Malcolm trying to comfort her.  And as far as action scenes go, I think the show proved in the pilot that it could do action scenes (e.g., the Slashers attack against the idiot teenagers while they were hunkered down in the rovers).  And I think the dino bird attack of the colony (while Josh and Skye were discussing how his future girlfriend is kind of like Skye, smooth move Josh - girls love being compared to other girls) was pretty well executed (they should have avoided the up close shot of the dead dino bird since it looked so Halloween decoration rubbery).  I can deal with that level of action every week as long as the show makes up for it with good character development and dialogue.  For example, in LOST, I didn't need to see the smoke monster eat the pilot, but I needed to see the affect it had on the LOST-aways. Good character storylines and dialogue will make people overlook a lack of action scenes.  That'll work for me anyway.

See you next week!

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