Thursday, March 15, 2012

Postmortem: The Firm and Terra Nova

Last week, FOX announced its intentions to drop Terra Nova.  And last month, NBC semi-canceled The Firm.  Yet, for both shows, the end has not yet come.

Terra Nova is likely to be picked up either by another network or by Netflix.  I'll never understand why a network would choose to cancel a profitable show, but should we expect less from FOX, the network that screwed over several good shows such as Firefly?  I would love to see another entity make money off of Terra Nova and show FOX how it's done.

Granted, Terra Nova wasn't perfect.  It had inconsistent delivery.  It's only awesome episode was the very first one.  The rest of the episodes held my attention, and the finale left me wanting for more.  But with most of the energy spent in building the world, shows like this don't become great until the later seasons when the world has already been established.

This show targeted the family crowd.  This guaranteed no cool gruesome dino-deaths (except for what happened off the screen).  But it also guaranteed the writers would spend more time in developing story.

The science was questionable.  For example, one episode had this animal being attracted by an inaudible 32.8 Hertz sound.  Any amateur scientist/musician (at least one who's studied how to tune) knows this is the lowest C on the piano - easily heard by the human ear.  I think they meant 32.8 megaHertz.  If they do continue the show, I hope they'll do more research and stop bombarding us with bad science.

Then again, the science is just icing on the cake--something to help make everything look cool.  Once or twice, they used science to drive the plot (such as their iPads needing a very rare expensive battery, which caused the kids to get into interesting situations), but on the most part the characters drove the plot, and that's what I liked about the show.

Whoever picks up Terra Nova: I'll keep watching.  This show has potential, and it would be great to see where Season 2 leads.  Buy the show!

The Firm, on the other hand has no chance at all in being renewed anywhere.  Or at least it shouldn't have another chance.  The show is practically cancelled by NBC, but since it was sold so cheaply they may still show all 22 episodes (now showing on Saturday).  Though, it's not being shown this coming Saturday as NBC experiments with seeing if it can get higher numbers with a different show.  We may not get to see the remaining twelve episodes.

I only made it through "Chapter Eight" and I couldn't take it any more.  When I wrote my review of the first episode, I had high hopes, but my main concern came to fruition.  Each episode continued the bipolar plot device: one part chasing/guns/conspiracy and one part "case of the week."  I suppose this device is fine when used properly, but when one part sucks, the whole device fails.

The first episode began six weeks in the future showing Mitch McDeere on the run.  Each successive "chapter" brought us one week closer.  Every week, Mitch had a different yet totally unrelated case (which could be hit or miss on the interesting scale).  Each "chapter" gave us another piece of the puzzle as to what pushed Mitch to run.  "Chapter Eight" brought us to the present, and the revelations helped me to realize that the chasing/guns/conspiracy story basically sucks.

Why did Mitch run and think that people were out to kill him?  Because he saw a couple of suspicious looking characters and his imagination (serendipitously) went away with it.  And when his partner sprung him out of jail, Mitch decided people really aren't trying to kill him?  And things went back to normal?  Yeah--right!

Plus, did Helfer and her gang really think (as competent lawyers) that McDeere would believe that idiotic drug addiction cover-up story?  Did they really not think McDeere might have made a copy of those numbers?  And would McDeere and company really have gone that long without realizing those 9-digit numbers might be employer identification numbers?

With "Chapter Eight" bringing us to present, I expected an episode entirely devoted to the chasing/guns/conspiracy, but they still had to get in their "case of the week."  Then I realized, that's what the show is really about--those "cases of the week."  All that stuff we loved in the decades-old book and movie is nothing but glue to take us from one episode to the next.

I loved all the acting by McDeere and his team.  They actually had some good chemistry going.  But I still can't stand Helfer's attempt of acting.  I can't stand the idiotic setup of the chasing/guns/conspiracy story.  It moves too slowly and relies too heavily on competent people making idiotic decisions and missing simple solutions.  If I had time to watch more episodes, I would, but I don't.  I figure someone can tell me how it ends.

Update 7/16/2012: Evidently The Firm has garnered a sizable following, and several are checking to see if anyone else will pick up the show.  I know I reamed it above, but I sympathize with you guys.  I know what it's like to lose a favorite show.  And like I said above, Team McDeere is full of some fine actors.  But unfortunately, as of today, there is no news that this show will be saved by anyone.  I wish you luck, though.

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