March 6, 2012

THE SKED: “Terra Nova” Becomes Extinct

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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FOX did what it had to do today, shutting the time-travel portal on TERRA NOVA.  The show (which, because of its CG postproduction, would have needed an early renewal to be ready for air in Fall 2012) was enormously expensive, and its ratings trajectory was steeply downward, ending its run at a level barely over a 2.  Creatively, the series never jelled–too much bad dialogue, not enough dinosaurs–and there was no indication new viewers would have any interest in joining the show in a Season 2.  While there was hope that potential international and ancillary value could make up for low US ratings because FOX’s sister studio 20th Century Fox Television produced the series, clearly the studio and network couldn’t make the economics work.

The spin is that Terra Nova will now be shopped to other networks, but while its genre could certainly work on a cable network like Syfy or even TNT, there’s no way those networks would pay a license fee equal to FOX’s for such damaged goods, and unless the studio is willing to take an enormous deficit (in which case, they would have done it for their own network), or there’s a way to sharply cut the show’s cost, it seems unlikely to find a savior.
Some side notes:  Steven Spielberg is having a productive but not terribly successful season.  THE RIVER is overwhelmingly likely to join Terra Nova on the scrap-heap, UNITED STATES OF TARA was canceled, and apart from the modest cable success FALLING SKIES, that just leaves SMASH, which has a very good chance of renewal, but not because it’s a hit in the ratings.  (WAR HORSE and TINTIN haven’t given him much joy on the big screen, either.)

And with Terra Nova dead, THE FINDER shipped off to Fridays and ALCATRAZ showing little promise, FOX’s only serious chance for a renewed drama this season is TOUCH, if that show can live up to its “special preview” ratings.  And with HOUSE officially nearing its end, the network will clearly be in need of new 1-hours for fall.  Which, in circle of life fashion, is good news for the producers of this development season’s drama pilots. 

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."