TERRA NOVA: Jim (Jason O'Mara, R) and Taylor (Stephen Lang, L) protect the colony in the "Nightfall" episode of TERRA NOVA airing Monday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Brook Rushton/FOX
OpinionTelevision & Film

Debbie Won’t Fall for TERRA NOVA

banner_recapTERRA NOVA
Season 1, episode 6: “Nightfall”
Watch out for those SPOILERS!

[All TERRA NOVA photos: Brook Rushton/FOX]

“I watch this so you don’t have to.” – my new official recap slogan.

Welcome to my weekly recap of TERRA NOVA, the least offensive and most plodding family-oriented show on television, unless you count the occasional scene where someone gets eaten by a hungry dinosaur. But dino-munching doesn’t happen nearly enough, IMHO (and not once in this episode, sadly). I started out hoping that the executive producer’s promise of a Red Shirt getting eaten once a week was true. Now I find myself hoping that as many of these cliché-filled characters as possible will become a dinosaur’s dinner. However, I’m not sure even a dinosaur could stomach that bland of a diet.

Once again three divergent storylines are edited together into one patchwork quilt of a show. So let’s go:

Skye brings her sick friend Hunter to the Infirmary for a date with a fancy medical diagnostic bed. Poor Hunter, he drank some unfermented cocktails and now has a 30-foot intestinal parasite growing inside of him. (Lesson number one: Always wait until fermentation is complete before you go on a drinking binge! Better to die from alcohol poisoning than parasitic worms, kiddies.)

Jim takes littlest daughter Zoe on an excursion to “The Eye”, Terra Nova’s liquid memory core and the depository of all of Terra Nova’s knowledge, for some more Daddy/daughter bonding time. In other words, the computer library.

Reynolds takes Maddy on a secret picnic OTG to see some pretty flowers in a field. Yeah, really. They almost kiss…but wait! A meteor hits! Looks like Reynolds and Maddy are now trapped OTG because their vehicle’s power source is fried. Silly kids, they forget all about kissing and decide to walk back to the compound.

Oh the pretty, pretty flowers. Maddy and Reynolds go on a picnic outside Terra Nova. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Brook Rushton/FOX

But Terra Nova has lost all power as well, due to the over-used sci fi scenario of a meteor’s resultant electromagnetic pulse or EMP. However a nicely rendered CGI sonic wave soon blasts through the compound almost making me forgive the writers for not taking out anybody with the meteor strike. All circuits in the electronic equipment, chips and backup chips are now fried. Taylor becomes worried about keeping the local wildlife out of the compound since the electronic Gate no longer works either.

Of course, electronic locks don’t work now, either, so Jim and Zoe are trapped inside The Eye room. Jim finds an access hatch and asks Zoe to crawl through it and open the Eye’s door from the other side because the access tunnel is too small for him to squeeze into. (Now, I ask you, why would the compound’s designers build an access tunnel that is too small for a grown man to gain access to? This makes no sense whatsoever.)

Terra Nova’s fancy-schmancy Chip Fabricator (think STAR TREK food replicator, but for electronics) is fried as well, and it turns out that Black Market Bad Guy Boylan is the only one who can fix it. (What?! There’s no one else in this whole community of scientists who can fix electronics, they need to get THE GUY WHO OWNS THE BAR? Unbelievable.) He wants to haggle over price, but Taylor twists his arm, literally. (Lesson two, kiddies: Brute force is always the answer when technology goes all kerflooey. So don’t forget those visits to the gym right before the apocalypse.)

Doc Liz must operate on Hunter the old-fashioned way – with a scalpel, oh noes! – and slowly starts pulling out the parasite by wrapping it around a big stick like kite string. Ewww…icky. Skye helps because Hunter is like a brother to her. (Nope, not gonna go there.)

Elisabeth enlists Skye to help treat Hunter. ©Fox Broadcasting Co.

Taylor struts out to the Gate to survey the vast non-working-ness of everything, announcing that he wants the Infirmary up and running first once they can make chips again. (I’d be more inclined to get the majorly necessary Gate defenses back up first, but forgive me, I’m only being sensible.)

This is PRIMEVAL’s Conner and Abby up a tree hiding from dinosaurs. Remind you of anything?

Stuck OTG, Reynolds and Maddy give each other Stinkweed body mudpacks to camouflage their tasty human scent from any hungry dinosaurs, but end up climbing a tree to spend the night in order to evade some non-fooled Nicoraptors (Can you say PRIMEVAL?). And Maddy asks to be kissed “before she dies”. (Oh, the sappiness. Kill me now.)

The Eye is still working only because “it is shielded and has its own power supply”. (Hey, the EYE room might have been a better place to store that vitally important Chip Fabricator then, mightn’t it? Duh!)  Zoe doesn’t want to climb through the shaft because she afraid of spiders. Dad Jim sings a made-up “Go Away Spider” song for her. (I think this is supposed to be cute, in some horribly saccharine way.) Zoe succeeds in climbing out and opening the door. (Go, Zoe! I like you best of all! Probably because you had the least amount of crummy lines in this whole episode, lucky girl!) Jim goes off to report to Cmdr. Taylor.

Mira and the Sixers (that sounds oddly like some 1960s girl group, doesn’t it?) discover somehow that the TN Compound is now without power. They shoo a large, nasty-looking carnivore towards the TN gate as a sneaky diversion to get inside and steal the mystery Box mentioned in the last episode. It was discovered that there is a DNA response system governing the “Box”, so that only one person, presumably Mira, can open it. (But I wonder…)

Not the actual dinosaur scene. But really close.

The big ol’ stegosaurus-like dinosaur breaks through the trees in a carefully backlit scene straight out of KING KONG, and heads for the Gate. Jim and Taylor shoot flaming arrows (yes, I said flaming arrows) outside of the Gate’s perimeter to light a sort of firebreak and dissuade it from coming any closer. (Because only lead actors in a series are capable of such uncanny archery skills, obviously. Nope, don’t use any of those highly-trained soldiers who spend all day and night actually guarding the Gate for a living. They probably don’t have any useful skills at all, right?)

A bit late, because the diversion has already worked and those nasty Sixers have grabbed the Box and started a fistfight ITG. Some really terrible fake fighting commences. (Amazingly, simply getting smacked sideways in the face with a metal tray makes a Sixer stuntman fly three feet upwards into the air and backwards into a handily placed non-bolted down shelving unit. And glass walls in the Compound are not unbreakable – why is this?? 2149 technology and they use fragile glass as lab dividers??)

Jim and Taylor protect the colony with flaming arrows. I kid you not. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co.

Taylor and Jim pound on a bunch of the Sixers to lots of resounding and overdone sound effects. Taylor gets shot in the arm, which doesn’t seem to affect his power punching abilities one bit. And Boylan of all people shows up to save the day by shooting a Sixer with the last bullet in his old-fashioned non-chip revolver.

Mira ends up escaping with the mysterious Box, anyway. (Fat lot of good all that punching did.) Taylor thinks Mira was informed where the Box was being kept by the still-unknown compound spy and rants some more about wanting to hunt the guy down. (Pssst, try asking the most obvious suspect in the room , that guy named Malcolm, you idiots).

Josh suddenly shows up to take the first newly fabricated chip to the infirmary where it is snapped into place inside some equipment as easily as I put a new memory card into my digital camera, and Liz saves Hunter’s life. (I’d let Hunter get Skye if I were the writers, he’s shown far more guts than Josh ever did. No pun intended!)

The sun rises and Reynolds and Maddy crawl down from their tree and head home in safety at last. (What, so all prehistoric dinosaurs are nocturnal hunters? NONE of them want some human breakfast?)

Mira gives the stolen Box to a mystery man out in the jungle. (I think this must be Taylor’s son at last.) He says it’s for his “work” and opens it, whereupon it projects pretty diagrams onto the air, similar to the mysterious hieroglyphs back on the rocks at the falls. She calls him “Lucas”. And yup, he is Taylor’s son. (Since the writers have been setting up his appearance for the last SIX episodes you’ll forgive me if this doesn’t exactly come as the surprise revelation that it was obviously intended to be. Yawn.)

My take? Well, umm…I liked the CGI sonic wave blast in the beginning. The rest of the episode was so drawn out that it felt like I was watching molasses run. I suppose this is a good speed for snails and small humans, but I suspect any adults still in the room might have fallen asleep before the end credits rolled. Only my double espresso kept me awake for this one! (Lesson number three: Brew bigger pot of coffee next week. And buy some biscotti.)

[Official Show Site on FOX]

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