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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: The frustrating sci-fi drama “Terra Nova” finally shows signs of life

Television
by Matt Zoller Seitz
November 23, 2011 12:16 AM
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Stephen Lang and the dinosaurs: Those are the only two reasons to watch Terra Nova. And that’s depressing when you consider that the Steven Spielberg-produced science fiction series is the most expensive show on TV right now, and that it’s still considered a long shot for renewal even though more worthy network shows — including NBC’s Community and ABC’s Pan Am — have effectively been canceled.

Last night’s episode was solid and surprising, but arriving eight episodes into the series’ run, it’s meager compensation for viewer loyalty. Lang’s character, Commander Taylor — the first explorer to step through the time rift that let inhabitants of a polluted Earth to colonize an unspoiled, alternate, prehistoric version of their planet — finally confirmed what viewers suspected and hoped: that he’s not such a great guy after all. (Of course he isn’t! Why cast the frequently chilling Lang in an unambiguous nice-guy role?) We learned that, like so many colonies throughout real Earth history, Terra Nova is founded on a lie and a crime. That it’s a well-meaning lie and a desperate crime doesn’t mitigate the feeling that Taylor is one dark hombre, and that the Terra Novans’ enemies, a splinter group known as The Sixers, are less an evil force than principled opposition. (I love how they communicate with a spy within the Terra Nova camp via a big dragonfly outfitted with a data chip; here and elsewhere, the series displays a knack for showing you things you’ve never seen before, anywhere.)

You can read the rest of Matt's review here at Salon.

A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for Salon.com and a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in criticism. He has worked as a movie critic for The New York Times, New York Press and New Times Newspapers and as a TV critic for The Star-Ledger of Newark.

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