Angry migratory pterosaurs? Memory-erasing viruses? Living in Terra Nova blows. The
third fourth episode of Fox’s big-budget drama had more problems for the citizens of pre-Earth and even more problems for the series. “What Remains” already used up Terra Nova‘s obligatory virus episode, and we’re only on hour four. Is this show running out of ideas already?
When Terra Nova was announced we all had reasonable hopes that it would have some bite. We saw the jungle setting and fooled ourselves into thinking–for just a second–that it could be the next Lost. We saw dinosaurs and prayed for some of the wonderment we got from Jurassic Park. Instead, we got a bland show with absolutely zero interest in pleasing sci-fi fans. As we’ve seen from the going-through-the-motions first episodes, it doesn’t seem to care about trying to please anyone. Are script rewrites more difficult because of the effects? Are they trying to squeeze effects in just to have effects, therefore ignoring the importance of engaging stories? Are they just going with the first plot that comes to mind in hopes that the setting will satisfy us? Whatever is going on here, it’s obvious Terra Nova isn’t even trying so far.
Here’s what happened last night: a scientist at an outpost was tinkering with the gene that causes Alzheimer’s by creating a virus that’s designed to stop memory loss. Except it does the exact opposite. Oops! Forgot to carry the one, did we Mr. Scientist? Taylor says the problem is a tech situation, not a science situation, so he brings doctor/scientist Elisabeth? Okay, sure. Elisabeth and Taylor (Elizabeth Taylor LOL) head over to the outpost to figure out why the crew there isn’t responding to communications, and you’ll definitely guess what happens next. They get infected with the memory-wiping virus! So Elisabeth and Taylor end up losing memories of the last 20 years or so and can’t figure out where they are. Elisabeth reacts to this by thinking she’s back in University, and Taylor has the idea that he’s back in Somalia, which is still a bad place to vacation. Both of them react to seeing Jim by shooting him. Elisabeth can’t remember Jim but does remember fellow scientist Malcolm, who she used to date back at school. Jim orders a piping-hot plate of jealousy, while Malcolm paws at Liz. Taylor, filled with flashbacks of bad Somali times, heads to camp where he’s a danger to kill everyone, infect everyone, or some combination of both. There’s more danger, dinosaurs eat some wires and cut the power, but eventually the day is saved because baby Zoe got Jim sick with a virus that stops the other virus. So Jim gives Elisabeth the virus with a kiss. I’m assuming Jim then made out with the rest of the camp so no one else would lose their memories.
Meanwhile, on One Terra Nova Hill, Josh and Skye kiss to some sweet guitar-based adult contemporary background music, but Josh feels guilty about it because he promised his girlfriend Kara back in the future that he’d tear her away from her family and have her teleported 85 million years in the past to pursue a teenage love that let’s face it, will probably fizzle out by next semester. Skye says she can help make that happen, because she’s either the most selfless person in the world or she just wants to be Kara’s homewrecker in person. Skye brings Josh to Terra Nova’s bartender (Terra Nova has a bartender?) who doesn’t mind sharing super-secret illegal information with a couple of randy teens, one of whom is the son of Terra Nova’s only cop. He’s smuggling supplies for the Sixers, who can get relay information back to 2149, including one order for a teenage chick. Maddy is still smart and crushing on some guy named Mark who is crushing back in the series’ most ill-placed and unnecessary storyline, and adorable little Zoe, who is by default my favorite character because she’s not stupid, is playing with toy dinosaurs.
This Kenny G of the guitar music is making me so horny!
I don’t usually like to recap things in articles because the details are generally a waste of time. However, I decided to run through the events of “What Remains” so you could relive the ridiculousness of the episode. It was just a string of things that happened, ways to kill time until the writers could reveal the entirely convenient ending that one virus suppressed the other virus and use it as an excuse to get Jim and Elisabeth to makeout with each other. At least we could poke fun at the previous episode’s lizard birds and its goofy effects, this was just bad in a torturous kind of way.
There was a light at the end of the tunnel when the Sixers came back into play, and the series needs to return to that story as soon as possible if it wants any chance at redeeming itself. I know I’m more of a fan of serialized television shows, but I don’t think anyone is interested in watching the Shannons overcome a new prehistoric problem (killer plants! a killer sandstorm! a killer meteorite!) each week. Thankfully, next week looks like a Sixer-centric episode. I just hope it’s not derailed by a swarm of killer slugs.
If I seem a bit angry, I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m so disappointed in this series. Though it was billed as a big-budget sci-fi adventure, Terra Nova is obviously going the family entertainment route. I’m okay with that. But in trying to appeal to the broadest audience possible it’s forgoing any semblance of intelligence. It’s not remotely science-fiction, because the science of it is entirely remedial and unimportant. It’s non-threatening family fun times with a fantastical backdrop. It’s the television equivalent of bland baby food. It can keep you going, but you won’t enjoy it.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom