At first glance, Terra Nova seems like a opportunity for Spielberg to show off some Jurassic Park stories that he never got around to filming and to use some unused CGI assets left over from ten years ago. In reality, Terra Nova is a halfway interesting science fiction filled with a delicate balance between drama, action, and preaching.
The show starts out in the 22nd century. The Earth is on the brink of environmental collapse. Citizens must use personal respirators as the air is too toxic to breathe. Children don’t even know what the stars or the sun look like as the pollution has covered the atmosphere for years. The government has imposed a mandatory 4 person limit on family size, with additional children an actual crime. It’s a bleak world to live in for sure, and while there are some undertones of “this is where we are headed,” the writers thankfully chose to not beat us over the head with it too much.
Somehow though, their saving grace is the ability to send people 85 million years back in time to the dawn of the dinosaurs, in order to restart civilization again and hopefully do a better job this time. So far, things are going well, but we soon find out that not all is what it seems in Terra Nova. For starters, it seems that the 6th pilgrimage was intact not as they seemed. Somehow, they were sent back to take the civilization on a different path, and are more or less a separate nation now, with regular skirmishes into Terra Nova. It’s an interesting though, that an entire pilgrimage would be able to work its way into Terra Nova and try to undermine it. The question is, what is their ultimate goal though, and why were they sent?
The story lines in general though, revolve around the Shannon family. The father, Jim (Jason O’Mara) an escaped fugitive imprisoned for attempting to save his daughter, and his wife Dr. Elizabeth (Shelly Conn) bring their three children along though the portal. Josh (Landon Liboiron) is the headstrong rebellious teen while Maddy (Naomi Scott) is the brainy daughter. Finnaly Zoe (Alana Mansour) is the youngest daughter, and the one who allows us to live though the show with eyes of wonder at how different things are. She is always there as a constant reminder to the viewer that our world might be similar to theirs today, but we soon might be seeing the world of the 22nd century. Other characters in Terra Nova include Commander Nathaniel Taylor (Stephen Lang), the tough but fair leader of the settlement, and Skye (Allison Miller) the headstrong teenager with the nack for getting into trouble.
The characters of the show all fit the various stereotypes that make a drama what it is. We have the rebellious son following around the headstrong girl. We have a brainy daughter, and a mother and father who just want to start a new life again. There isn’t a lot of new concepts here, but the character chemistry is decent when they don’t have terrible dialog to say.
It’s hard to say how good the series will be in the long term as the opening two hours spends a lot of time introducing characters, factions, and scenery to the viewer. A huge budget went into the VFX for the pilot, with plenty of majestic sweeping shots of Terra Nova, the jungles, and the foreign sky. Obviously though, the most talked about feature will be the dinosaurs, which thankfully don’t look completely out of place. They spared no expense to make this whole experience a fully cohesive environment for the viewer, and it will play off if they can back that up with good story telling.
Overall, I’d say that Terra Nova isn’t quite on the cancelation bus yet, but we’ll see how things play out.
- It drives me totally crazy that a society advanced enough to travel though time can’t not destroy their environment
- The Sixes obviously have an agenda, but the question is does their agenda serve humanity or some faceless corporation?
- How does wood fences stop dinosaurs?
- What is that meteorite ore?
- They somewhat addressed the nagging time travel loopholes by going with “differentiating timeline” where they are creating a whole new timeline.
- Didn’t the dinosaurs get wiped out by some cataclysmic event?