“Terra Nova,” one of the most expensive and hyped shows of the new season, premiered Monday night on Fox. In his capsule review for the fall TV preview, television critic Hank Stuever gave the show a grade of B, writing:
“Literally the biggest thing on TV this fall (for more on that, read my colleague Jen Chaney), ‘Terra Nova’ has it all: time travel, misguided utopianism, ‘Swiss Family Robinson’-style cohesion and lots of hungry dinosaurs. It’s all pretty dazzling, but with so much time spent on special effects, the characters seem to be factory-direct. The script gets wordy, as the cast hurriedly speak in bursts of dialogue meant to give viewers all the background that, frankly, we don’t need. Even with a lavish two-hour premiere, ‘Terra Nova’ could stand to slow down and admire the world it has taken us to — Earth, 85 million years ago. Still and all, it’s a dazzling debut, with a variety of compelling mysteries to get itself going.”
In a longer review, Stuever expressed frustration with the show’s serious tone and flat characters.
The dinosaurs are fine, reflecting how skillfully the culture industry has mastered the art of staring at computer screens. I’m more worried about ‘Terra Nova’s’ humans, who don’t do dialogue so much as they do exposition in service to plot.
The Post’s Jen Chaney wrote about the price tag for the “Terra Nova” pilot, which cost a reported $10-20 million. The investment, Chaney writes, demonstrates that a network is still willing to spend big on a show it things can be a hit.
“But given its positive early buzz, the visual effects required to bring all those carnosaurs to life and the involvement of a dozen producers — including some guy named Steven Spielberg, who knows a little something about dinosaur stories — “Terra Nova” stands as perhaps the most closely watched go-big-or-go-home drama of the new season. The key question it faces: Can a series with the production values and sensibility of a summer blockbuster win enough fans to justify the network’s investment?”
Chaney also added up the ways that “Terra Nova” compares to “Lost.”
“(I)f you’re a ‘Lost’ fan and watched the pilot for ‘Terra Nova,’ you undoubtedly experienced a few episodes of Dharma deja vu. Here’s a list of the ‘Lost’ similarities that bubbled up in the first installment of ‘Terra Nova,’ reminding us of a certain island filled with confused, flawed and impossibly attractive castaways.”