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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Now You See Me" on Terra Nova

     In "Now You See Me," the latest installment of FOX's Terra Nova, Taylor (Stephen Lang) heads off into the jungle to look for his son, Lucas (Ashley Zukerman, Rush), only to be captured by Mira (Christine Adams) instead. Taylor turns the tables on Mira, but soon both must work together to escape a deadly prehistoric predator. Back at camp, Jim (Jason O'Mara) grows closer to uncovering the Sixers' mole, who viewers learn is Skye (Allison Miller). Not to worry, though, as the sweet young girl is only feeding the bad guys information so they will continue to care for her ailing mother.

     There is no doubt that the Sixers are bad. They stop giving Skye's mom her medicine when communication breaks down, and Skye is a little late feeding them the latest intel. This is not the act of someone who has any compassion at all. So clearly, the vast majority of the Sixers are one-dimensional villains that fans of Terra Nova will not be sad to see killed. It certainly makes things simpler when they are black and white, but far less interesting to the viewer.

     Skye's decision to help out the Sixers is predictable as soon as the facts are in, and of course she's not a bad guy. After all, she has been shown to be helpful and caring towards Josh (Landon Liboiron), so the series writers won't write her off quite so easily. Honestly, though, it would be far better if the mole were a complicated character whose loyalties are truly in question, rather than a scared little girl hoping to help her mother. Thus, another failure in "Now You See Me." And now, no one really wants Jim to catch the mole, and the urgency for him to do so is gone, making the plot kind of moot.

     In fact, the only really good part of "Now You See Me" is Taylor and Mira's interaction. It's totally stale and done before that two enemies can find common ground in the field of battle. Still, as the two discuss how, under different circumstances, they might be allies, it's hard not to appreciate it. Adams is a terrific actress, and giving her character a sympathetic little back story goes a long way towards making her likeable and intriguing. Now the only question seems to be, what will it take to convince Adams to switch sides, possibly against her own, evil group. Though, she could lead the others Sixers to reconciliation, if she is as strong a leader as she appears to be, and they are the sheep they come across as.

     The other subplot in "Now You See Me" involves the youngest Shannon, Zoe (Alana Mansour) wanting to keep a baby dinosaur as a pet. Everything about the story, from her sneaking it very obviously under her shirt, to the far-too-perfect reunion of baby and mama, or a dinosaur that is willing to act as its mama, is over the top sappy.

     Yes, Terra Nova wants to be a family show, along with its other qualities, but does it lack all originality? Every thing the series does so far has a rote feel to it, as if it's copying everything else in pop culture. It is enjoyable enough, sure, but it's fluff, rather than serious drama or deep story. It needs to take chances and try something new! There are a lot of really cool ingredients being used here, but it feels like the show gravitates to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to appeal to everyone. Which will backfire by appealing to almost no one. Considering the budget required, Terra Nova would be wise to try to make itself something special soon, if it's not already too late. Hopefully, this is possible.

     Oh, and Reynolds (Dean Geyer) is already declaring his intentions to marry Maddy (Naomi Scott). Seriously?! They just started dating! Ridiculous!

     Terra Nova airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

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     Catch up with streaming episodes of Terra Nova.

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