Terra Nova Review: A Family is Five

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Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, and FOX's Terra Nova. What do they all have in common? Sure, they are all projects that Steven Spielberg is attached to, but more importantly to me, they are all epic in scale and in idea.

When you mentioned Terra Nova to anyone prior to the series premiere, the immediate response was "Oh that Dinosaur show?" Or "Jurassic Park for television?" While Terra Nova is not Jurassic Park, it shares that one shiny detail: dinosaurs.

The Shannon Family

In no way does the inclusion of dinosaurs make a series great - or even watchable for that matter - but it does have a way of getting the audience's attention. It got mine from the jump off, and as "Genesis: Part 1" began, I was only sucked in further and further as the episode went along.

Anything apocalyptic in nature is sure to have me on the edge of my seat. So when the series kicked off, and the world as we knew it was on the verge of destruction, my eyes opened wider. The futuristic elements are great, with all of the technological advances, but add that to the ridiculously historic atmosphere that the show turns to after the first half hour or so, and it is a recipe for success.

All great television series are filled with great characters at their roots. In the premiere, we met the Shannons, who didn't put forth a Raylan Givensian (Justified) first impression, but certainly proved to me that this show isn't going to simply be a dinosaur action flick on the small screen.

I never watched Life On Mars, and couldn't tell Jason O'Mara from Jason Jones, so I had my doubts about him as the episode began. After Jim Shannon and family made it to Terra Nova, and the father began to interact with his baby Zoe for the first time since going away to prison two years earlier, all doubts were gone.

The man has charm, and little Zoe announcing that she remembered his name was "Daddy!" only made me fall in love with this family even more. Elizabeth was relatable and the older daughter, although I can't remember her name, was funny in how much she was dorking out over all of the time travel and science aspects of their new life in Terra Nova.

But it was Josh that really made me the most riled up. Every show benefits from having someone you can't stand. Someone you want to see screw up. Someone you can root against. Josh is already that for me, and I love it. From the hatred he has shown towards his father, to the ridiculous idea to sneak "OTG" on his first day in the Cretaceous period, Josh had me shaking my head on a number of occasions.

The Shannons

It was not simply a character study on the Shannons though. The opener gave us adventure: Josh and his friends exploring "OTG." It gave us romance: both in Josh and Skye, and the older daughter with her new man-friend. It gave us a whole lot of action: You do not want to mess with the Slashers! And it definitely gave us intrigue: What are the equations on the rocks all about? What's Taylor's son doing with them? And how will they play a role in the near future?

I'm not here telling you it was a perfect premiere. I mean, as fantastic as some of the special effects were, the green screen during Jim and Taylor's scene on top of the rocks was awful. It was Ringer-esque! Also there were a few times when I just said "really?" The fact that they were even attempting to keep it a surprise to the audience that it was Zoe in the giant backpack was hurtful, and the fact that Jim so quickly got in Taylor's circle of trust even though he was a fugitive, were two of my biggest problems.

But the positives outnumbered the negatives by a country mile, and I am excited to see where this tale goes from here. The ending of the second hour, with the gigantic moon in the distance, reminded me once again at what an epic story this was. Will the rest of the series continue to live up to that scale? We'll have to tune in again to find out.


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (261 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


A really good show! But I don't get what all the fuss is about. They went back 85 million years ago, in a different line apart from the present time (2149). Which means if they figure out a way to destroy the Yucutan Meteor, the Dinosaurs will walk the Earth and stuff that has been accomplished before the meteor will stay.


I watched the two hour pilot and like the first half better than the second half. By part two I could sense the rot setting as cliches started to show. I think the dinosaurs aren't too bad, I agree with the point made by someone earlier about the dreadful green screen work on the mountain - very blurry and very 1960's! Totally shameful in this day and age - doesn't anyone check the thing for quality control before it airs anymore? The kid in the suitcase was ridiculous, talk about an elephant in the room - you call that hand luggage? Come on, the backpack was huge! I imagine that as the series progresses, assuming it's even given the chance to, we will see less in the way of CGI and more in the way of tent bound talking heads. I like Jason Omara, he was very likable in Life on Mars and he is equally likable in Life on an alternative Earth in the past. His annoying teenage son is also a cliche. It reminds me of a mixture of Jurassic Park, Stargate and Outcasts (which in my humble opinion was much better written) In a nutshell, I'd love to see it do well but I suspect it won't be given the chance to - let's see if it actually deserves to do well first though.


People seem to be misunderstanding the scale of time going on here. In no way is the planet "about to be hit by a meteor". They went back 85 million years. The meteor hit 65 million years ago. 20 million years is a long time. It equates to about 10 times the length that man has been on earth (as far back as we can trace). The concept of an alternate time-line was introduced during a scene which described the probe that was sent through the rift. They left the probe expecting to find it in the place it was left 85 million years ago. But, no trace of the probe was found leading to the conclusion that the rift crosses a time-line. This means that no amount of interference can lead to people 'fading from existence' because there is nothing paradoxical about their presence 85 million years in the past. They are simply inhabiting a separate timeline to the one that they came from. The real question is, how could those from the future know that going back is safe? We've already been told that once you go through the rift you cant go back and that since the world through the rift inhabits a different timeline, you cant leave messages for the future people to find. So where does the communication come from between past and future? It could lead to some intriguing plot development. Or it could be painfully frustrating and never explained. We'll just have to wait and see.


Does anyone know why it jumped from the premiere last week to episode 4 this week. Did I miss something?


I loved it. It was entertaining and took me away for a couple hours. I wish people stop whining about stuff just because they have sad little lives....IT'S A TV SHOW, it doesn't have to be entirely accurate, it just needs to be believable enough to enjoy. It's something new and fun so just let it be and enjoy it for what it is. If you don't like it, fine, don't watch it. Let us that do love it watch it in peace.
BTW for those complaining about civilisation being wiped out by a meteor... they're in an alternate timeline... that meteor may not even exist...The writers can do whatever they want. So pipe down.


maybe they are planning to deflect the meteor with modern technology brought through the time anomaly and change the course of evolution as a whole but the presence of humans in Terra Nova will ensure that human will exist. besides, as it was said many times, it's either this or nothing, i guess they figured that they have to try, after all they can't choose which period of time to go to. my only question is: if they are there and they will change the course of living of human beings, then what happens if in their time everything changes so much that some or all of this people will not get to be born, will they start disappearing?


Are people with blond hair even allowed on Terra Nova?


Premise of dropping the settlers back in the time of the dinos? How would it be possible to re-boot humanity from a time about to be obliterated by the Yucutan meteor. What you might call a 112 mile wide crater sized plot hole!


The first thing that struck me about the show was that the producers obviously believe that we are currently poisoning our planet and that the trend will continue until it looks like their version in 2149. While radical environmentalists continue to promote the idea that our air and water continue to deteriorate in quality, the reverse is true. We have learned from past mistakes and our air and water quality have improved tremendously in recent years. When the show transitioned to the new world, the "Utopia" presented was a communist society with everything provided for the settlers by the authorities, everyone had a job, and no one lacked for anything. It's amazing to me that anyone with half a brain would still believe that communism could ever be any kind of Utopia when it has failed miserably whenever it's been tried.


@Kelly- Okay, "smoke monster." Regardless, bad graphics. Not the point. Idiot.

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Terra Nova Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Step 1, Dad breaks out of a maximum security facilit. Step 2, Dad breaks into a maximum security facility. Piece of cake.


He'll find a way. He always does!