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40° Good Afternoon

'Terra Nova': To the Badlands? (Or trash heap?)

The Shannon family, of

The Shannon family, of "Terra Nova," is pictured here: Jason O'Mara, Landon Liboiron, Naomi Scott, Alana Mansour and Shelley Conn. Credit: Fox

"Terra Nova,” perhaps the most ambitious commercial TV show in history, ended Monday night, and the question remains: For this season or forever? (The show was seen by more than 7 million viewers last night -- not bad, not great.)

But as Fox weighs a decision, the question of diminishing returns asserts itself. Can something so expensive continue to exist with such middling numbers among young adults? That's certainly not bad but you have to wonder if it's good enough considering the show's expensive on-screen ambitions.

Last night's finale? I thought it was quite good: well done special effects (they usually are); reasonably bad bad guys who met their demise in a way that was entirely satisfactory and appropriate to the show's theme (dinosaurs do eat  people sometimes). Of course, Lang's son apparently pulled a Michael Myers and ran away after getting shot a few dozen times.

That's what you a call a “just in case” deus ex machina -- just in case Fox renews and needs Young Dr. Evil as a worthy antagonist next season. The Phoenix Group -- those who would pillage the world 85 million years ago for their own financial gain in 2049 -- also disappeared into the so-called  “Badlands.” They had no place to go anyway with “Hope Plaza” (the time machine portal) in ruins. And what great mysteries lie in the Badlands? Well, for one thing, 18th century sailing ships that must've taken a wrong turn on the “Lost” set.

But here's the thing: “Terra Nova” did two things last night. It plausibly set up a full and fairly satisfying conclusion; it also dangled the possibility of a new season. The third possibility -- which should also be considered -- is another two-hour movie to really wrap.

Here's my pitch for series' continuation: “Terra Nova,” which could be dramatically clunky at times, is good for the medium of television. It does something most series don't try to do because they are told not to do: spend money on the screen. It tells people that exciting stuff can actually happen on a commercial TV network. It pushed the boundaries of what is possible with computer-generated imagery -- when most production houses said “it couldn't be done” (dinos in seven days!) -- producers like Brannon Braga, René Echevarria, Craig Silverstein, Kelly Marcel and so many others said: “Yes it can!”

And by the way, I loved the dinosaurs.

It could be better. Of course it could. It tended to droop in the proverbial soup too often when cornball speeches were made, or silly family drama ensued, or what-have-you.

But so what! Make it better, Fox! But keep the show. It deserves another season. Plus -- darn it -- I want to see the Badlands.  

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