The issue of family-friendly scripted television is particularly troubling to Melissa Henson, director of communications for the Parents Television Council, a Los Angeles-based watchdog group that most recently called for a boycott of NBC's "The Playboy Club," recently canceled. Pointing to films like "Dolphin Tale," "Real Steel" and Disney's re-release of "The Lion King" in 3-D, Henson was vexed over television's apparent lack of choices for families.
"Not everyone has the luxury of taking their kids to the movies," she said. "Being able to find something at home that families can watch at home is very important. There is a real hunger for programs like that.
I wish Hollywood would be less worried about being edgy and more focused on stories and characters instead of controversy," she added.
That appetite was a prime motivator in prompting Fox to develop "Terra Nova," said Terence Carter, Fox's senior vice president, drama development.
"Filling that need was absolutely part of our programming and development," Carter said. "Before the season, all of the executives talk about what might work. We looked at the negative space on TV and saw a real void there. 'American Idol' is one of the last great family shows, and we wanted to reclaim that in the scripted field. The arena we targeted was family adventure, as opposed to a family soap, which might skew much older."
"Terra Nova" was designed like a film that would play "on the biggest TV in the house" and hopefully would inspire the family to watch as a unit, he added.
"We wanted to reclaim that attention from theatrical venues," Carter said. "It's an opportunity to get those eyeballs back."