As Netflix Talks End, Terra Nova Looks Officially Over
(TV Guide) The dinos of Terra Nova are now even more extinct. Despite an 11th hour attempt by Netflix to keep the show alive, a deal could not be reached and the show’s producers are ready to throw in the towel.
Netflix was interested in the show, and talks had been ongoing with 20th Century Fox TV to keep Terra Nova alive. But sticking points began to emerge — and not just production costs. As a result, at least two insiders have confirmed to TV Guide Magazine that it’s all over for Terra Nova.
According to one source, international broadcasters may not have been keen on the idea of Netflix serving as the sole U.S. “broadcaster” of Terra Nova. Netflix, still new to the original programming game, doesn’t carry the same marketing heft or cache that a TV network does, and international outlets perhaps weren’t sure they wanted to commit to another season without an actual broadcast or cable channel attached. While a studio source pointed to Futurama as an example of a show that was resurrected down the road, such a move is unlikely for Terra Nova.
Even after Fox finally decided to cancel Terra Nova, the prehistoric time-traveling drama’s cast and crew were holding out for a dino-sized miracle. “[Fox] will regret the decision,” lamented one person with ties to the show. “We felt with some changes, the show could live up to potential and be something unique.”
Netflix began an investigation into saving the Steven Spielberg series from extinction, but it appeared to be a long shot from the beginning. Such a deal would represent another pricy programming play for Netflix, which is spending $100 million for two seasons of the Kevin Spacey original drama House of Cards, and will fork over millions more to resurrect Fox’s long-canceled Arrested Development. Netflix is also said to be interested in rescuing ABC’s The River, but that show hasn’t even been officially canceled yet.
Terra Nova costs at least $4 million an episode, which is why a cable home was unlikely. “We’ll certainly try,” one producer said early on of shopping the show. Terra Nova’s cast remains under contract, but as days dragged on after the Fox cancellation, they began to look at other work. Most notably, star Jason O’Mara signed on in second position to star opposite Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis and Carrie-Anne Moss in CBS’ untitled 1960s-set Ralph Lamb pilot. Terra Nova series regular Allison Miller was also cast as a “guest star” in the NBC comedy pilot Go On.
Stephen Lang, who plays Commander Nathaniel Taylor, called the cancellation “myopic” and compared Terra Nova to the initially troubled Hubble Space Telescope: “Even in its flawed first season, each episode was full of marvelous moments and beautiful images,” he said in a statement.
While Terra Nova didn’t live up to the hype or its major marketing campaign, the show averaged a decent 2.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 7.5 million viewers. “It was an exciting bet to take, and I think it’s proven that it was worthwhile,” Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said in January. “We made money on it, the studio made money on it, the audience loved it, the show looked fantastic.”
Sources inside Terra Nova say they believe Reilly grew wary of the drama’s early production problems and lost interest as the show struggled to find a creative footing. Terra Nova tried to be all things to all viewers — sci-fi show, dinosaur thriller, family drama, police procedural and teen soap. “The show was hunting for itself creatively through the season,” Reilly said.
But just as Fox was about to abandon Terra Nova, it roared back with a splashy season finale in December: The portal between the future and the past was blown up, creating a whole new scenario for season two. “That allowed us to hit the reset button and go any way we wanted to go,” says one insider. “What is it like in this place when it’s totally cut off from the future? It changes things in a dramatic way.”
As the show’s producers pitched several different scenarios for next year, a contingent inside Fox fought for the renewal and a decision kept being pushed back. Fans also began bombarding Reilly with toy dinosaur figurines (which he later donated to a kids’ charity). The longer Fox waited — execs originally planned to give producers their decision in January — the more it looked like a cancellation was imminent.
By the start of March, producers say it was probably already too late to get Terra Nova on the fall schedule. “Kevin took it to the last moment, and beyond a couple weeks when we could have even hit fall,” says one insider. “Once we couldn’t hit fall, he wasn’t sure he wanted to bring us back much later. The indecision became the decision.”