May 17, 2011

THE SKED: 1st Pre-Look At FOX’s New Dramas

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Written by: Mitch Salem


DISCLAIMER: These initial impressions are based on the clips (usually 3-5 minutes) released by the networks to use in their Upfront presentations and for promos.  They’re chosen to sell the show, not to accurately represent it.  So take the reactions below with a large satchel of salt–we may well feel differently about these shows once we see the full pilots.  That being said, it’s also true that these clips are carefully selected to give the best impression possible of a show–if it still doesn’t look great, that may not bode well.

Clips are available, among other places, at  

TERRA NOVA (FALL Mon 8PM):  It looks quite spectacular, as well it should considering the millions apparently poured into the pilot.  Although technically the show is set in 85 Million BC, the real premise is clear:  Jurassic Park the TV show.  Lots of action, great CG backdrops, glimpses of dinosaurs.  The danger of a trailer for a show like this is identical to that of a cool trailer for a Hollywood blockbuster movie:  it could be the TV equivalent of a “false positive”.  TV series don’t survive based on their visual effects–for one thing, after the pilot is done, at some point the budget has to come down to Earth.  They need solid scripts and strong characters.  Will Terra Nova be the next Battlestar Galactica or Earth 2?  We’ll see. 

ALCATRAZ (MIDSEASON Mon 9PM):  The Lost team is in full force on this one:  not just Executive Producer JJ Abrams, but also writer Elizabeth Sarnoff and star Jorge Garcia.  It has a very intriguing premise, with hundreds of hardened Alcatraz convicts who vanished from the prison decades ago suddenly appearing, without having aged, in the present-day, while our heroes have to stop the criminals and also figure out just where they’re coming from.  Abrams and his production teams know how to tease out longterm mysteries, and as long as the episodic plots don’t get too formulaic, this has a chance of reaching beyond a cult audience.
THE FINDER (MIDSEASON Thurs 9PM):  On this one, we have the benefit of having seen the entire pilot, since it ran as a spin-off episode of Bones (there’s little connection between the worlds of the 2 shows–the David Boreanaz character on Bones is an old colleague of Finder‘s hero–so this is essentially a separate entity).  The pilot has something of a USA Network feel, with Geoff Stults as a war veteran who turns detective because he can find anything that’s been lost, and Michael Clarke Duncan and Saffron Burrows as his insistently colorful sidekicks (it may or may not be notable that the trailer doesn’t mention Burrows’ name, although she’s in the footage shown).  It took Bones much of its first season to find its comedy-drama footing, so writer Hart Hanson deserves some time to see if he can make the cast and storylines click.
TOUCH (MIDSEASON ???):  This supernatural mystery hasn’t even shot a pilot yet, but it stars Kiefer Sutherland and is from the writer/creator of Heroes, and that was enough to get it onto the FOX midseason schedule.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."