A fancy new restaurant opens up in your town.
The chef is a guy you've seen on countless Food Network specials, a true genius known for making every dish into a work of art.
The restaurant was also designed by an interior decorator who has been the focus of shows on Bravo and TLC, legendary for making the smallest space into a spectacle.
But just days before the restaurant is ready to begin serving, you notice some interviews with the people behind the restaurant, the financial backers or whatever, and they're saying some weird things.
"Yes, people might talk about the food and design, but what we'd like to emphasize is our unobtrusive servers. There are lots of places people can go for a good meal and some fine ambiance, but we think diners will truly be impressed by how frequently their water glasses are refilled and the smooth removal of finished plates."
That comment may make you stop and pause.
And it'd be similar to the reaction you might feel listening to the producers of FOX's "Terra Nova" talk about their new show.
You've heard about "Terra Nova" because of Steven Spielberg's involvement. You've heard about the ambitious shoot on locations down in Australia. You've heard about the motion-capture dinosaurs and special effects so special they've required months of extra development and implementation time in order to get "Terra Nova" on air at all.
And then you see the "Terra Nova" producers at WonderCon or Comic-Con or you read or watch interviews with them from myriad media events. And over and over and over again, they seem to be saying the same thing: Well, sure there are dinosaurs and time-traveling. But really, what "Terra Nova" actually is, is a family story. We want people to come and stay for the family.
That's what the party line appears to be.
If this "Terra Nova" review gets one message across and one message only, it would be this: Do not watch FOX's "Terra Nova" because it's a family story. There are good family stories on TV and if you don't feel there are good family stories on TV, just start rewatching your "Friday Night Lights" or "Gilmore Girls" DVDs. But don't come to "Terra Nova" thinking you're going to get a gripping (or even marginally engaging) family drama and that anything else will be gravy. Tune in to "Terra Nova" because it really isn't like anything you've ever seen on TV before. The scope and special effects are exceptional and for all you've heard about the cost of the pilot, you won't wonder where the money went. Yes, there's a family story and that family story could improve as "Terra Nova" progresses, but it's the dinosaurs and the giant insects and the waterfalls and the lush scenery (real and digital) that will hook audiences.
And it's not like FOX doesn't know this. Note how advertising has focused more on marauding carnivores than dinner table conversations.
There's no particular shame in any of this, necessarily. "Terra Nova" does spectacle well. Why not own that? Why try to own "intimacy" and "domesticity," which it doesn't do nearly as well?
Full review after the break...