“Terra Incognita” is a new reality adventure series on SyFy. Sort of. It’s the real-life adventures of ex-Special Forces officer turned anthropologist Brendan Walker [Stargate: Atlantis’s Joe Flannigan] as he travels to the world’s last “unknown lands” and invariably gets into far more trouble than originally intended.
So the basic idea is Indiana Jones gets a Discovery Channel-style documentary series. Flannigan’s on board because he does a passable Harrison Ford impression and looks a lot like Drake from the “Uncharted” game series. The whole thing is shot like a documentary — a certain number of staged shots, and a lot of shaky-cam as things get crazy. The show can also make use of some of the mockumentary editing used in shows like “Arrested Development” and “The Office” — the talking head cam, fake archival footage, etc.
All the sci-fi elements are either ambiguous or happen juuuust off-camera, but it’s mostly the classic regional cryptids — the Yeti, the Mothman, etc. Lurking in the background (literally in the background — the viewers pick up on it before the characters) are pieces to a bigger puzzle . . . the Unified Field Theory of Weird, if you will. And over time, the adventure-of-the-week format feeds into this larger mythology. Something big. The Illuminati.
The promotional opportunities are endless. Walker could have a Twitter account. The website could have some real-time in-character Q&A (like that Old Spice guy). All of the ads for the show could play along with the idea that this is just an exceptionally awesome version of “Survivorman” and the characters themselves could make reference to the fact that they are on right after “Caprica” or whatnot.
Now what we really need is someone cool to play the cameraman/sound tech, who will be the only other regular character, and who I think will often be seen and not heard. Still thinking about that. We need a character actor type, maybe a twitchy tech support guy (Flinkman from “Alias” or Jonathan “Short Round” Ke Quan?), maybe an unflappable ex-war correspondent, but basically a little comic relief.
Guest stars will abound, however — like Indy, Walker has an old buddy or old enemy wherever he goes.