Monday, October 3, 2011

Terra Nova: Season 1 Episode 3 - Instinct

Hello prehistoric bird watchers, welcome to Terra Nova - Comedy Edition!  I can't even sugarcoat it folks. That was one painful episode of television to endure.  I know, you don't usually hear this coming from the "I love everything I write about!" blogger.  But, I never had to endure the first post-pilot episode of Terra Nova before tonight either!  I guess they realized that they spent all of their budget for 2 seasons worth of episodes in that pilot, and this is what we get in return for the 3rd hour?  Yikes.  A lot less action and a lot more of the cheese that we were willing to overlook last week.  Don't get me wrong, I was laughing the entire hour, but it was for all of the wrong reasons.

The minute that Jim and the Mrs. were getting interrupted from their "night-time festivities", I think we all could have figured out how the episode was going to end!  But, don't let me spoil the big twist ending for you guys! We'll get there in due time.  A fair warning to all of you hardcore Terra Novians out there, there is no way that I can recap this episode in any kind of serious way.   I am aware that there are going to have to be episodes like this scattered across the 12 episode order of season 1, and I am optimistic that they will counter-balance episodes like this with more mythology expanding episodes.  But when we stumble upon a stinker like this one, there is only so much that I can say!   So, with that in mind, let's get to it!

The Main Story

Okay, so where to begin?  Right, the lizard birds!  A legion of Pterosaurs are peeved at the human race because they set up Terra Nova on top of their breeding grounds.  So, they attacked a bunch of red-shirt Terra Novian militia in the jungle and then it's up to Mama and Papa Shannon and Commander Taylor to save the colony!

So, the episode followed the standard determine the issue, discover the problem, invent something to solve the problem textbook storyline.  Jim found a claw on the victim and then he got attacked by another pterosaur himself getting a similar claw mark.  There's your issue folks!

Jim was assigned to hunt the pterosaurs and instead of showing us an expensive jungle scene, we cut to commercial and came back with Elizabeth discovering that these pterosaurs were born right where Terra Nova was built.  And they have the pheromones to prove it!  So Elizabeth and her med-school ex-boyfriend have to recreate a large supply of these pheromones and plant it somewhere far beyond Terra Nova.

Drama ensues as they try to create this masterpiece.  The Shannon family somehow finds a way to be couped in their house with their love interests and appear to be the only house where the pterosaurs found a way to bash through the vent.  Bad boy Reynolds (aka the guy that likes Maddy) gets knocked unconscious so it's up to Tyler errr Josh (sorry, can't get V off the brain) to save the girls.  He knocks out a flying lizard to rescue his baby sister Zoe and get her back to the bedroom with Maddy, Skye and knocked out Reynolds.  Naturally, Jim has a man to man chat with Josh telling him to "take care of our girls" when the fight was practically over anyway.  Uhh, dude, I already did!

Anyway, Jim and Taylor take the barrel full of pheromones in one of the Terra Nova armored vehicles and the pterosaurs follow them away.  They come back all scarred up for the women to stare at them in awe as Dr. Malcolm Wallace just stares jealously.  And if that wasn't enough of a debacle of a plot line to just leave it be there, Taylor had to give the worst line of the night.  "You think those things are noisy when they're coming at ya? Well, you wouldn't believe the racket they make when they start...."  and the innuendo provided by his facial expression was all we needed to be able to hear all 9 million or less collective eyes rolling at one time across the country.   And one blogger was sitting on his couch laughing and thinking "What on earth was I thinking with this show!?!?!"   But don't worry!  I'm not giving up just yet!

Side Plots
Josh and Skye
  • There was some ridiculous sub-plot that involved Josh trying to impress Skye with his guitar playing.  Except the Terra Nova Pawn Shop guy wanted 60 lizard skins (seriously?  You want me to remember the actual monetary unit he said?) for the guitar.  By the way, it was nice to know that basic 3 chord songs had not gone the way of the errrrr dinosaur???  in 2149.  

  • Apparently, the necklace that Josh wears is not to prove how feminine he is.  It was a gift from his girlfriend Kara who he seems willing to move on from with all of his Skye crushing.  Come on, we all still know how this is going to play out, right?  Kara will sooo be in the 11th pilgrimage but Skye will already have sunk her claws into Josh.  Josh also told Skye that Kara was a lot like her with her tough side.  Man, they aren't very subtle around these parts, are they?

  • Josh and Skye made some cheesy bet while fighting off the winged mini-beasts that would give Josh the 60 lizard skins to get his guitar.  Yay!  Now he's going to be so much cooler! 
  • Don't forget, Skye planted a smoocher on Josh's cheek.  Love is in the air folks! 

Jim adjusts to family life 

  • Jim was tasked with family chores while Elizabeth worked late.  He had to cook, make Josh do his homework and give Zoe a bath.  Of course, Maddy threw him a curveball when she asked how to know if a boy likes her.  Of course Mr. Shannon had to have some cheesy lines like "you're 16!  Boys don't like you and you don't like them!"  and Josh had to say "Welcome back to the family, Dad!"   Golly gee guys, this is just the swellest show on the television.  Shucks, my face is getting all red! 

  • In the end, Jim got out of cooking and giving Zoe a bath.  And he thought 2 times that he would get lucky with his wife.  The first time, thwarted by the pterosaurs and then Zoe wanting to sleep in bed. 2nd time, those darned pterosaurs again.  3rd time, oh yes...thy will be done!  While, I knew 5 minutes into the episode that was how it would end, I couldn't help but think that one of those pesky lizards would still be hanging out in the house hoping to become the house pet.  Oh and Elizabeth having to say the word "bed" to get the point across?  That's like Darth Vader having to say "Nooooooo!" in Return of the Jedi to let us know why he's giving the Emperor the shaft! 

  • Did I mention that they spray painted the Dharma Barracks to look like Bumble Bees?  Eh, must've been just me! 

  • Oh right, and of course when Reynolds switched shifts with some dude to be able to watch over the Shannon kids, Jim had to tell his daughter, "That's when you know a boy likes you."  Awwwwwww!    So let me get this straight, we're mixing family fun with a show that has sexual innuendo and situations and the leader of the group calling the pterosaurs SOB's?  This show needs an identity pronto!

High School called and they want their love triangle back 
  • Oh don't for a second think that I forgot about the ultimate catalyst behind getting the Shannon family to Terra Nova.  Dr. Malcolm Wallace was lonely and wanted his ex-girlfriend back!  Oh that's right, he played all stupid to Elizabeth like he didn't know she was coming and he certainly didn't expect to see Jim "jailbird" Shannon with her.  

  • I mean, the whole "jealousy" subplot with Jim interrogating Elizabeth, Taylor and then eventually Wallace to get to the bottom of it all was just outright painful!  And then Jim delivered some mad awkward lines to Wallace like, "Oh come on. I saw your face when you saw me!"  and something like "I'm going hunting.  Wanna come?  Yeah...didn't think so."   Naa naa neee boo boo.  Sticks and Stones Jim.  Sticks and stones.  

  • In the end, Jim got the last laugh.  But considering this guy is the whole reason they're all there, I don't think we've seen the last of this pain-inducing non-chemistry. 

Potential Mythology-Expanding Moment

There was one semi-decent scene between Jim and Taylor when they were out investigating the initial pterosaur attack.  Of course, even that scene was littered with an "Awww shucks, you're making me blush" type line.   

  • Jim was worried about the Sixers wanting to take out Taylor, so he asked Taylor to take some precautions while they were out investigating.  (cue aww shucks line)
  • Taylor has requested some additional duties of Shannon.  Apparently, Mira has a leak within Terra Nova and he wants Jim to do some of his old school cop investigation work to sniff it out. 
  • Well, with a producer of 24 involved in this show as well, of course there has to be a leak!  The question, of course, will be who is it?  I've already stated last week, it would be unwise to rule out the fearless leader himself.  Yeah, it's probably not him but what better way to throw a man off the scent than by making the accusation in the first place?   It could be Reynolds, Skye, one of Skye's minions, Taylor's right-hand man in the pilot, or that female security officer that was featured a lot in this episode, or it could be someone we haven't met yet.  Something tells me it will be someone that will impact the Shannon family directly.  Someone like Skye would make for some sappy teenage drama which seems to be something this show wants to exploit! 
Other than that, no additional information provided on the Sixers, the sketches that Taylor's son made, or even Taylor's son himself.  I'm sure it's all coming and those threads are pretty much the only thing I'm interested in right now with this show.  That and any potential elements of altering time which is still unclear if they're going to head in that direction with the whole probe business and all.

So, that's really all I have this week, kids!  I don't think you can blame me for not coming up with more.  Maybe you guys got other things out of the episode so feel free to share.  And, while you're at it, get watching FRINGE and joining the recap discussion.  That show is in dire need of some attention and it truly deserves it!  In a couple weeks time we will also have The Walking Dead to discuss as well which should be a good time.  So, even if Terra Nova doesn't pan out, we still have good TV out there!  

End Credits
  • This season I will be recapping Fringe, Terra Nova, The Walking Dead and Alactraz.  If one of these new shows ends up not doing well, I may bail on it quickly.  This could make room for a show that DOES end up doing well!  
  • As always, there are other shows that I watch as well and would be happy to discuss with all of you. For a complete list by day, you can check out my "FALL TV" post.  


Anonymous said...

I did not see last night's episode but figured I'd read your review since I am on the fence about this show. As I said last week, I feared that this show was going to end up being a typical family drama where the prehistoric angle was merely a backdrop and, from your synopsis I don't see anything to change my mind. I will keep reading your reviews to see where this show is going. Perhaps I will change my mind in a few weeks.

Just wondering, did you ever check out Jason O'Mara's last series, "Life On Mars"? It got cancelled after one season but had a final episode that closed the loop and answered most of the questions. So, if you ever decide to check it out you only have to watch a seasons worth of episodes to see the whole thing. I won't bore you with the premise of the show, I am sure you can get that on Wikipedia.


Mike V. said...

@Bill - I never saw Life On Mars but am very familiar with the premise and the show. Just never got into it. If it ever ends up on netflix it might be a good treadmill show for me! lol

As far as Terra Nova, that episode was a total waste, but I have a feeling there will be episodes that focus more on the mythology. They went into this season knowing that it was going to be a 12 episode season so I'm sure they mapped out some stuff. But, if it is going to be a weekly show of what I saw yesterday, these recaps may not last a few weeks! lol Maybe I'll just post a quick post that says "FAMILY EPISODE: Discuss at your leisure" if it's not an interesting episode! lol And if it gets into some good stuff, then I'll write more. We'll see! I just don't want to waste my time if the show isn't going to take its audience seriously! And hey, Terra Nova's twitter account was retweeting fan reactions to last night's episode that said how awesome it is. So maybe some people out there like what they're doing!

Mike V. said...

Totally forgot to mention and just read it in comments somewhere. You would think in 2149 that they would have perfected teeth straightening so teenagers wouldn't have to wear retainers! lol

Leslie said...

Hey Mike ... I started watching Terra Nova because of your anticipation of it. I'm still having LOST withdrawals, so I figured I would give it a chance. So, I'm gonna just say it, I totally enjoyed last night's episode! But, what made it enjoyable were the scenes taken from Hitchcock's The Birds. If you haven't seen it, watch this clip and tell me if you don't see the connection:

There were several moments taken straight from the movie, and yes, it was laughable, but that's what made it fun! No, it wasn't as meaty of an episode as the first two hours, but not painful at all! I'm still going to tune in next week.

Mike V. said...

@Leslie - Thanks for your alternate perspective on the episode! I'm not giving up on the show just yet. I know there are gonna be episodes like this. And you and I are both going through LOST withdrawals along with many others! I have never seen The Birds but I'll definitely have to check out that scene later. Not working where I am right now!

I know the show is supposed to be fun and lighthearted at times. And that's cool....but I liked it when the balanced it with some meatier mysterious stuff. This one was just a stand-alone mess in my opinion. But I'm glad you liked it! I appreciate your different take on it and I'll try to keep an open mind going forward! But when there's an episode like's tough to approach the recap with any kind of seriousness. I'll try though. :-) Thanks again for the comments!

MJ said...

Eh - the ep wasn't that bad I thought. Sometimes it's nice to give the brain a break. LOL All new shows have to sort of find their footing. Besides - I'm looking at it as a miniseries since i doubt it will get a second season.

Just saw a trailer for a new show that will come out on Fox eventually. Touch - with jack Bauer himself. Have to say - looks highly recappable Mike. ;-D

I LOVED Life on Mars - both the Brit version and our version. Was sad the american version did not last.

Being Human is another brit show that I enjoy, and the american one didn't suck.

Revenge has been a surprisingly guilty pleasure - didn't think I'd enjoy it but checked it out for the heck of it.

Mike V. said...

Yeah - I don't think it will get renewed either. I don't mind giving the brain a break...and I probably would've enjoyed the episode more if I wasn't thinking "how on earth am I gonna recap about this?" the whole time lol That's basically where my complaints were coming from. Oh, and the fact that it was super cheesy! lol

Yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to Touch, Awake and Alcatraz. I haven't watched the preview of Touch yet but I was planning to. I'll let you know what I think! It's definitely bad timing that all of these shows are starting right when my first born is umm....born! lol I'm gonna be pretty busy with that so I have a feeling recapping might take a back-burner. But maybe during the "adjustment period" I'll be able to post my very rare "Quick thoughts" on these shows and then when I'm adjusted I can get into some recapping (pending the show warrants it! lol)

I've been hearing that Revenge is pretty good too. Didn't watch any episodes TV slate is pretty full so I don't know if I'd even have time!

BTW - I forget if you recommended Warehouse 13 to me (I know someone did)...but the first 2 seasons are streaming on Netflix after my 6 episode Walking Dead rewatch, I may dive into that. I'm halfway through the pilot episode. It's not AWFUL lol

Excited for Fringe tonight! But with the Phillies playing at the same's looking like I'll be watching first thing tomorrow morning lol

Mike V. said...

For anyone wanting to catch up, Netflix just got the rights to stream The Walking Dead! 6 episode first season and season 2 begins next Sunday!

Mike V. said...

Forgot to mention that I checked out American Horror Story. Wasn't sure if I was going to get into it or not but I hit play on my DVR last night and got sucked in. Definitely out there and very bizarre, but I found myself enjoying it! I see a lot of potential!

MJ said...

I still have not heard anything about Awake except from you. I will have to search that one out.

AHS was fun. Very nutso - the guy in the leather suit and the maid is all I will say in this family blog. LOL

Yeah - I do watch Warehouse 13. It takes time to grow on ya. Some of the silliness does settle down, some of it. But the eventually dive into some back story and have some arcing stories too.

Just saw the Walking Dead webisodes. Was it me or was the first for out of order ? They were pretty good. For those who don't stream netflix AMC is running the 6 eps the day of the premier I think, cause I'm gonna watch #6 TS-19.

Yeah - once your little one is born you are gonna be one tired guy ! LOL

Wow - my word verification is fringr. As in Fringer.

MJ said...

Wow - just looked at the promo for Awake. That looks great - and it's malfoy's dad ! LOL Of course he was in Brotherhood first.

Mike V. said...

On one of my older blog posts, I think I put a trailer of Awake (it might be on the EVENT recap where I didn't recap the show but talked about other shows lol) But there should be like a 4 minute preview on NBC or Youtube somewhere! Well, I see you saw it now....yes it is Lucius Malfoy...but I always knew him from The Patriot first. He just plays such a good villain it's gonna be hard seeing him in a different role. (he also played Javert in the Les Mis movie..non musical version lol)

Ahh yes...the Gimp! Doc Jensen has a theory that this WAS the dylan mcdermot character...but we'll see I guess. The maid and the leather man....well was very crazy!! lol I did enjoy the show though...was surprised the critics have given it such a hard time.

I think the webisodes were intentionally out of order. You a very pulp fiction/Lostian way. We saw one thing happen, and then we went back to see how other things developed. Kind of like this Zombie in the first place. We saw her in the series premiere episode and this webisode series showed how she came to be there. Good stuff! Thanks for the tip on AMC running TWD also! Such a good show. I hope it doesn't lose steam with Frank Darabount being de-helmed! lol They still of the author involved so that'll be good.

I'm already used to lack of sleep from the LOST blogs! So I'll just have to get used to it on a 24/7 basis :-) lol

Very nice with the word verification!!

Mike V. said...

Just watched the trailer for TOUCH. Looks REALLY good. The one thing that scares me is TIM KRING being attached since Heroes became such a debacle. But, this story seems a little more focused than Heroes was. lol Looking forward to it!

David S said...

I enjoyed the 2-hour pilot a great deal but was also pretty disappointed in this episode. Besides all the things you all have mentioned, I was also turned off by what a jerk Jim turned out to be and the whole attitude the show took towards man-of-science vs. man-of-action. Instead of being hailed for finding a solution, Malcolm is portrayed as a selfish coward, while Jim gets all the credit for being the he-man hero for basically being not much more than a delivery man.

Another eye-rolling moment was the preview for next week. Really? A mysterious virus story already?

On a different note, I am confused by the issue of whether the Terra Novans can communicate with the 22nd century Earth. It's made clear that the trip is one-way. And they can't leave a message to be found millions of years in the future since they are in a different timeline. Taylor finding out about Jim's history doesn't prove anything - once 22nd century Earth saw Jim go through the portal, they could easily have ID'd him and sent the info on to Terra Nova to warn Taylor without being asked to do so.

Mike V. said...

David, glad I'm not the only one that was disappointed in the episode! I agree with most of your comments as well. I'm hoping Monday's "virus" story has more meat to it. We'll see!

As for the communication to the future, we definitely don't know HOW they're able to communicate but they definitely ARE able to communicate. Taylor was able to get background information on Jim when he arrived and they also are able to communicate back and forth on the candidates for each pilgrimage as they need to assess their needs. (they needed a doctor, they recruited Elizabeth) Taylor also said that he has not told the people "back home" about the Sixers yet because he's not sure who to trust. So, I don't think there is supposed to be any ambiguity on their ability to communicate with them. The TRANSPORTATION is definitely one way. But how they're communicating? No idea. And I'm not sure if that's something they'll address or not!

David S said...


Yeah, your right - how dumb of me to forget that Malcolm was supposed to have sent for his old flame - that bugged me at the time as it didn't make sense. Thanks for setting me right!