Thank goodness. If there was ever a show that had so much promise and faileld so terribly, this was it. It was actually a show I was excited to try out and, by the end, it just made me angry.
For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the plot: A bunch of people go back in time to the age of Dinosaurs. How cool is that? So many great possibilities.
No idea why they’re going back to that specific time but they’re escaping a world filled with pollution and depressed-looking people and as far as I can tell, no McDonalds. Do they send back prisoners, like some sort of futuristic Australia? No, cause that would be cool. Instead they send back all the most boring people in the world. Not a bad, practical idea but doesn’t make for good storytelling.
After going through some mysterious portal (I would have preferred a huge phonebooth but whatever) the so-called pilgrims are taken to a fortified compound with armed guards and giant holes under the walls that teenagers can sneak through should the writers run out of plot ideas.
The compound is led by commander Taylor, played by Stephen Lang, the same guy who I actually rooted for in Avatar. Is it a democracy? A dictatorship? A commune? A Orwellian world where some animals are more equal than others? An insightful examination of what type of government would be needed to flourish in a hostile and alien environment?
It’s a bunch of boring people going about their own business, with some people (*cough*teenagers*cough) sitting on their butts like there is nothing to do because clearly in a world populated by big growly dinosaurs, where the colonists would have to grow and process their own food and water and shelter and fix the damn holes in the fortified wall, people (*cough*teenagers*cough*) have a ton of time on their hands.
Into this well-thought-out utopia come the Shannon clan. Dad, an ex-cop slash ex-con, a super pretty wife slash medical biologist, a son slash must-do-something-stupid-each episode teenager, and two daughters. Oh, I can feel the drama. What if daughter one can’t get her nail polisher to work?
But wait, the writers realized this and have added more conflict. Like they sat around the table and after six martinis and it suddenly occured to them that you couldn’t really have a show where the dinos are baddies since the t-rexs are not that organized and the wall pretty much stops them from eating everyone’s faces.
Shhooo, we getz the sixers, some lame group of previous pilgrims who believe in something bad. Not sure what. Not sure the writers ever knew either because by then they had moved on to coke lines.
Anyway, there are episodes where the teenagers have to be utterly stupid for any sort of plot to happen, or the sixers are up to something or there’s a plague of little beasties or big beasties. There are family problems and will-the-boy-like-me problems and all sorts of script problems.
Don’t get me started on why all the armed guards have guns that can’t kill a dinosaur. I mean, it’s like 2141 and they don’t have something that can kill a big beastie? It’s like they all arrived and went, hey, dude, did you know they had dinosaurs here? And even if that came as a big freaking shock to them, they could have phoned back home and said, eerrr, send bigger guns.
Or what about the CGI, pretty much the one thing they had to get right? Jurassic Park, was about 20 years ago, (1993) and they did a much, much better job.
No, this was an epic fail from day 1 and it had so much potential. But a swiss family robinson show with dinosaurs was not the way to go. Not in today’s market. Not by a long shot.
Personally, I think the picture says it all. Dad looking confused as if to say, oh for the love of all that is holy, are all the good writers dead? Or Taylor looking on, thinking, I should just shoot them all, while the rest of the family is wondering why they are just cardboard cut outs.
Not surprisingly, the show was cancelled and has not been picked up. Perhaps the best reason example of why is the very last episode, the one that could have, should have, saved the show.