Terra Nova will not be going to Netflix

A couple weeks back, we reported that the Producers of Terra Nova were making a pitch to Netflix to pick up the big-mystery dinosaur adventure show. Those talks concluded with no deal made.

Fox recently decided against renewing Terra Nova for a second season, mostly due to the production costs associated with the show.

Since it wasn’t cancelled due to ratings – the cause of most lost shows – the producers thought it might be possible to find a new home.

The big three wouldn’t touch it, however, and the cable networks wouldn’t have the budget to make the show properly, so Netflix seemed to be the last chance for the show.

Short of some television miracle, like HBO deciding to pick up the project – they’d probably want to add more naked breasts and blood, though – this is the end of Terra Nova

While it seemed an unexpected move to even try for Netflix, it does make a certain amount of sense all considered. Netflix is a major player in the Internet streaming business, with Hulu+ its only real competitor in the paid market, and even then, the services have a wide success gap. YouTube, of course, blows both services out of the water, but it relies on advertising only for income, and doesn’t really produce original television format content.

With Netflix’s reliance on subscribers, and their precedent, though short, of picking up defunct Fox shows (Arrested Development), it would not have been entirely surprising had it worked out.

One of the stars of Terra Nova, Stephen Lang, who plays Commander Taylor on the show, recently commented on the cancellation. According to Lang, the show’s second season offers quite a lot of potential, and won’t be as much of a risk as the first season. Taylor went on to compare the flaws in pacing and characterization the show suffered mid-season to the limitations of a recently launched space telescope.

“Terra Nova is analogous to the Hubble Space Telescope. Within weeks of a much-publicized and ballyhooed launch in 1990, the Hubble was found to have a serious flaw. Yet even with an improperly ground mirror the Hubble delivered extraordinary images. When the flaw was corrected the Hubble delivered images of transcendent beauty and value for many years. So too Terra Nova,” he told Deadline.

“Even in it’s flawed first season each episode was full of marvelous moments and beautiful images. With correction, and given the chance, Terra Nova can and will deliver seasons of transcendent images and storytelling. Failing to renew Terra Nova is shortsighted, as myopic as it would have been to scrap the Hubble. Terra Nova is the Hubble telescope of television.”

Apt, if not a bit dramatic. Unfortunately, unlike the Hubble project, television shows are required to turn profits, and Terra Nova just couldn’t pull the wieght of its development. It was a grand experiment, but these kinds of production values just don’t make sense in television yet. Production costs continue to drop each year, though, so maybe in a few more years this project, or one similar in scope and value will be possible.