Fox's cancellation of Steven Spielberg's pricey time-traveling dinosaur series "Terra Nova" is certainly disappointing to fans but can't be too surprising in view of the world-famous director's track record on the small screen.
Despite a résumé studded with instantly recognizable film hits that have collected both critical acclaim and box-office treasure, Spielberg's forays into television have often been problematic, especially when it comes to science fiction.
Putting aside his career start directing episodic television and movies of the week, Spielberg's first major crack at prime-time TV came with the 1985 anthology series "Amazing Stories." Though Spielberg was at the height of his producing powers at the time ("Back to the Future" and "The Goonies" were released in theaters the same year) and his name attracted top-drawer filmmaking talent (Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood both directed episodes in the first season), the show struggled mightily in the ratings. NBC bought two seasons' worth of episodes at $750,000 apiece without ever seeing the pilot and canceled the show as soon as they were aired.
Spielberg had more success with his animated endeavors, including "Tiny Toon Adventures" in 1990 and "Animaniacs" in 1993. But he went back to the sci-fi well in 1993, serving as executive producer of the underwater series "SeaQuest DSV."
The series, which also aired on NBC, was set in the near future and starred Spielberg's "Jaws" hero, Roy Scheider, as the captain of a hi-tech submersible ship named SeaQuest DSV. Fights between the show's producers and the network coincided with a steep decline in ratings. Though the series premiered as the second-most-watched show on its night (to an audience of 16.8 million), it soon dwindled in popularity, sliding to 78th place near the end of its first season.