July 12th, 2011
05:33 PM ET
The news came out recently that “Terra Nova,” the new sci-fi series that’s set to premiere on Fox this fall, will only have a 13 episode season. This comes after plans to air the pilot back in May had to be scrapped.
The reason for the delay and shortened first season seems to be production issues, specifically that the show is REALLY expensive. Creating a CGI-dominated prehistoric world can do that.
It’s still entirely possible that “Terra Nova” will be a good show, but I’m not sure it can ever live up to expectations.
The problem is that we know too much about it. This is a show that’s been on the public radar for at least a year. But we know the CGI on the pilot couldn’t get done in time for a May sneak preview. And we know there are already production concerns affecting the length of the season.
A similar thing happened with the failed “Wonder Woman” pilot. Audiences were able to see advance images of the costume and read a copy of the pilot’s script online, and the reaction was… less than pleasant. I find it hard to believe that didn’t play some role in NBC’s decision not to pick up the show.
Series pilots get reworked all the time before they premiere. Roles are recast, scripts are rewritten, plot lines are tweaked. At the time, I felt sure that NBC had invested so much in “Wonder Woman” that it HAD to at least give the show a shot.
But with so much negativity connected to it in advance, what are the odds that "Wonder Woman" never would have succeeded? There’s no sense for a network to waste space on its schedule with a series that people are predisposed to think is a trainwreck waiting to happen.
You can’t put the genie back in the bottle in terms of advance information being available to the general public. Movies and TV shows are shot months, sometimes years before they’re released. Scripts, casts, photos: they’re going to leak out and they’re going to get discussed… a lot.
Frankly, the industry of pop culture is as much of an industry as pop culture itself. We care that Cheryl Cole was hired-then-fired as a judge for “The X Factor” before anyone saw a second of the show. We care which pilots do and don’t get picked up. And we care when it's announced that “Terra Nova” will only have a 13 episode season.
I’m not arguing that fans should temper their passion or avoid information about shows or movies that interest them (unless it’s spoilers, but that’s a different conversation entirely). What I am advocating is that producers, networks and fans (we have to take some responsibility here, too) be aware that passion can over-inflate expectations.
No one ever talks about how great things are in the run-up to a premiere. What we hear about are the struggles and challenges along the way. But downplaying the possibility of success by focusing on the potential for disappointment too often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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