LA BREA – Review by Susan Granger

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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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.