LA BREA – Review by Susan Granger
Having grown up in Los Angeles, I have always been a bit terrified by the La Brea Tar Pits. This nationally registered Landmark is an active paleontological research site where natural asphalt has seeped up from the ground for many centuries, preserving the bones of trapped animals.
NBC’s sci-fi drama La Brea imagines hundreds of modern-day Angelenos suddenly surrounded by a massive sinkhole that drops them back to 10,000 B.C.
Just resuming after its fall finale in mid-November, the plot follows one family’s adventure in this prehistoric era. Disappearing as she’s driving teenagers to school are Eve Harris (Natalie Zea) and her son Josh (Jack Martin), leaving her semi-estranged husband Gavin (Eoin Macken) and daughter Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) searching for answers – which seem to be linked to a mysteriously glowing gash in the sky.
Since former-pilot Gavin has experienced cryptic visions of just such an occurrence, the Department of Homeland Security is eager to question him. One thing leads to another during the first season, as Gavin and Izzy find a portal to transport themselves back in time to reunite with Josh and Eve, along with Eve’s lover, Air Force pilot Levi Delgado (Nicholas Gonzales). That’s when things start to get a bit too cheesy.
Meanwhile, there’s an ever-growing cast of characters milling around a communal clearing: Ty (Chike Okonkwo), a psychiatrist with an incurable brain tumor; Sam (Jon Seda), a former Navy SEAL-turned-surgeon and his med-student daughter Riley (Veronica St. Clair); anxiety-riddled, perpetually stoned Scott (Rhan Mirchandaney); drug-dealing Lucas (Joah McKenzie); and LAPD detective Marybeth Hayes (Karina Logue).
Created by David Applebaum, this primeval fantasy desperately tries to be another Lost but becomes just too weird as the inexplicable, soap-opera-like absurdities mound. A saber-tooth tiger appears and disappears, followed by howling wolves. A huge bear corners Eve in a cave, and there’s a huge herd of stampeding bison heading for the clearing – all depicted in cheap CGI.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, La Brea sinks to a far-fetched 5, streaming on NBC, Peacock and Amazon Prime.