Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Episode 1101: Oh Gossip Girl, How You've Fallen!

Yes, we're back on the subject of TV tonight. Let me be clear about something right off the bat: I was and still am a Gossip Girl fan. When it started out, the show was soapy, the people beautiful, and the comebacks snarky, all wrapped up as high school drama. Quite unlike anything that had been on TV, apart from The OC, I guess. Arguably, it also started the wave of book-to-TV adaptations that still shows no sign of ending, although the lacklustre ratings for The Lying Game and The Secret Circle suggest that even if an author's previously adapted book series becomes a smash TV hit and cultural phenomenon (Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries respectively), trying to replicate the magic isn't always as easy as finding another sets of books to riff on. Having watched the Season 5 premiere of Gossip Girl though, and as much as it pains me to write this, I have to concede that of the two shows, 90210 is now undoubtedly superior to its East Coast cousin. It just feels breezier and more carefree, whereas I'm now inclined to agree with those who have long criticised the cast of Gossip Girl for just going through the motions. While its ratings mean it could limp through a Season 6, I'm not sure what the point would be. It's always a bad sign when your newest main cast member features only in the last five minutes of your season premiere. The writers really need to step up their game.

Also a disappointment, Fox's Terra Nova. While not exactly a flop for the network, compared to the ABC/CBS/NBC trifecta, this show is definitely not punching its weight, considering it's one of the more expensive shows to produce this season (damn those cheesy SFX and CGI dinosaurs!). The two-hour pilot had 9 million viewers, and I'm predicting the show will shed anywhere between 2-3 million next week. The problem isn't that Terra Nova isn't enjoyable. The problem is that it recycles too many stock motifs and tricks, right down to its stirringly epic soundtrack. That and it's plagued by a predominantly average-looking cast, except possibly lead actor Jason O'Mara, who gets a shirtless scene, so you know the network wants you to think he's hot. (What did I say about stock tricks of the trade?) The premise - colonists being sent back 85 million years to an alternate timeline from a 22nd century Earth on the verge of ecological collapse - is only marginally original, and strongly reminds me of UK show Outcasts. (Yeah, no one watched that either, even though I personally liked it.) Basically, Terra Nova looks like it's going to be Jurassic Park: The Series, a chance for Spielberg to rehash one of his most successful efforts. Mark this one down as my first cancellation prediction for the 2011/12 season. Let's hope it lasts longer than Lone Star, which was a mighty fine show that would likely have fared better somewhere like USA or FX.

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