Fox on Monday unveiled its summer primetime schedule. It includes “Masterchef” on Mondays and Tuesdays, “So You Think You Can Dance?” on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and “Glee” reruns on Thursdays. But it does not include that promised late-May two-hour pilot screening/sneak peek of its long awaited, much-delayed, highly hyped orgy of special-effects excess from Steven Spielberg, “Terra Nova.”
Back in May, when we were a carefree young columnist frolicking around Manhattan like a lamb in springtime as the broadcast networks unveiled to advertisers their plans for this current TV season, we reported that Fox promised advertisers it was going to foist “Terra Nova” upon an unsuspecting public some time during this 2010-2011 television season.
Of course, Fox also promised, that same day, it was going to cut back the “American Idol” results show to 30 minutes this season.
By August, as a more mature TV Columnist who was beginning to suspect some rannygazoo was going on, we reported Fox had announced at Summer TV Press Tour 2011 it would instead launch “Terra Nova” with a two-part sneak peek at the two-hour pilot – the second hour of which would air right after the final performance night of “American Idol” – just like Fox had done with such success in ’09 with “Glee.”
The series itself would join Fox’s schedule in the fall of the 2011-12 TV season.
“It was mainly due to the scope of what this show is going to take,” we watched with jaundiced eye as Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly explained to the press.
“We got into it knowing it was going to be ambitious – knowing that we had enormous…groundbreaking digital effects we were bringing to it,” Reilly continued.
“We had to create an entire world and mythology. But, frankly, even locking in a location has had a unique set of challenges. blah, blah, blah…explored everywhere from Lousiana to Hawaii to Australia, to Orlando…blah, blah, blah…It really became apparent, to do this show right, we were going to need the time. So we decided to make a virtue of out of it, slow it down…blah, blah, blah…The two advantages of doing the spring [sneak peek] are this: blah, blah, blah.”
And now, on Monday, a thoroughly jaded TV Columnist brings you word that those hellhounds at Fox have scrubbed “Terra Nova” from our May dance card and have no intention of giving us even a whiff of the series until the start of the 2011-2012 television season – more than one year after they began promising it.
This time, special effects are taking the blame.
“ ‘Tera Nova’ is one of the most ambitious television series ever produced,” Kevin Reilly – still Fox’s programming chief -- said modestly in a statement.
“The cutting-edge visual effects used to create the world of ‘Terra Nova,’ which is of massive scope and scale, require more time to be realized. This aspect of the series is essential so we are pushing back the special early preview date to give the visual effects team the time needed for their groundbreaking work.”
Anticipating your next question: No -- it just seems like Reilly gets paid by the word.
“Terra Nova” is about a family living in the year 2149. Earth is overpopulated and horribly polluted – unlike now. The family members join a band of settlers who travel back in time to pre-historic Earth in order to fix this and that in the future, which, unfortunately, leaves them too busy to focus on fixing the runaway cost of TV series production in the year 2011.
The price tag on the “Terra Nova” pilot alone has been guesstimated at anywhere between $10 million and $14 million, depending on your source.