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.


When will TV producers finally realize to use common sense on shows. This show is 150 yrs in the future. No major gains in tech....damn 150 years ago we had civil war tech. Dino's that are bullet proof....give me a break. Was hoping for a new show that could push some new tech, ideas and story line....What we got was same old stuff, bad guys with an agenda, bullet proof monsters, and look a hidden secret....too bad....


A bit too slow for my liking. Sad, because I was really looking forward to a great series. Scratching this one off my list of must-sees.


where was the daughter for two years prior to abduction & wouldn’t she be affected As I understand it the daughter wasn't abducted. Why? Bc the Mom told us that Zoe got used on sleeping in her bed while her husband was in prison. And no one ever mentioned Zoe being anywhere else than with her family the past few years. I think she just continued living with the family but she just wasn't allowed to move to Terra Nova with her family bc "they didn't want us to be rewarded for breaking the law". Ergo Zoe stayed with the family but they would have had to give her up when moving to Terra Nova so they had to smuggle her in.


@Jane - The show is bad because it's bad, not because Bobby said it's bad. There was no "sand monster" on Lost. You're an idiot.


@Dan Forcella
besides i don't think that Commander REALLY trusts him, he didn't tell him anything that revealing, but he sees that Jim can be useful, you are right, the fact that Jim was definitely NOT sent by anybody gives him an advantage in Commander's eyes.


@farsia I thought it was strange how quickly he climbed the ladder of the Commander's inner circle, but maybe it was BECAUSE he illegally came through the portal against everyone's wishes that the Commander trusts him. If the Sixers are a rebel group created by someone back in 22nd century, who is sending people back through the portal to battle against the Terra Nova colony, then it makes sense that the Commander would immediately trust Jim more than anyone else. The fact that he was a cop, and stopped that assassin don't hurt either.


@Jane, I didn’t say it was bad and left it at that (your comment). I believe I gave points on why it was horrible. The points aren’t really opinion- they happened in the show. We can discuss if those points matter. I think they matter (my opinion) and I explained why. I then concluded that the show was a bit self-righteous. I might have been haughty with my explanations (looking back). No need for that, really. This is why I think they matter, though- it seems (due to the consistency in which the characters acted) that the people who created the show, appear to have an unwavering worldview I don’t agree with; their perceptions of what courageous men look like, how their families act (in/out of crises), how unimportant they made issues (that are important: i.e. where was the daughter for two years prior to abduction & wouldn’t she be affected) and how people in general deal with others- are at odds with how I think things are. I believe the show will continue to follow their rooted perceptions- which brings me to the conclusion that the characters will remain as they are. So, unrealistic characters, bad storytelling and loopholes aren’t the best mix for a successful TV show. I seldom watch TV and I rarely write reviews. However, I guess I was really looking forward to watching something (since LOST was the last thing I watched) with some ‘bite’ and was disappointed.


@QueenBee, as a dad of two myself, I actually found the scene at night quite realistic, and a lot less cheezy than if they had to move the girl just so they could have the required just-got-out-of-prison sex scene. Sure, sex would be on my mind after two years away, but the whole point is that the man wanted to get back to his family, and he just went through a lot of trouble to get his little girl back, so if she felt comfortable sleeping on mom's bed, it's quite right that he can wait for sex until things settle down a bit. The only thing that bothered me about the premiere (other than the sub-par CGI) was the little OTG adventure with the teens, that definitely reminded me of the after school movie of the week. Also, unless I missed it, they didn't explain where Zoe was being kept for the last two years before they stuffed her into a backpack. Otherwise, good show, I look forward to more.


I liked the show overall. It wasn't perfect and I was mostly bored during the part when the teens snuck out of the camp and were attacked by dinosaurs. Those scenes were a little too much Jurassic Park for me (like the scene with the car in part 1) but it was clear it would happen. What actually bugged me most was that the doc and her husband didn't sleep together. I mean, most parts others called "unrealistic" were self-explanatory for those who actually payed attention - but this guy escapes from prison where he has been for 2 years, manages to get into the Terra Nova "departure hall", punches down several people to be able to follow his wife and then they both agree on him sleeping on the couch?! THAT is unrealistic. The older daughter probably would have been old enough to think about taking Zoe to her room like it was supposed to be or at least the doc would have moved her to the older daughter room. Wouldn't it be something that both of them would have looked forward to? To finally have sex again? Other than that it was okay. There is a lot of room for improvement but this was only the pilot and I am interested to see where it goes with the following episodes. But I hope there will be less son-father angst.


Amen on Lost tbone!I Loved it at the start but by season three it became apparent you were going to get only partial answers. I still really liked the show. I just wish it could continued the way it started. Terra Nova shows promise and given a chance I think it can do well. It's hard to tell if it will turn out to great or awful after only seeing the premier. At least watch 2 or 3 episodes before you search for a bus to throw it under. Who knows I may be looking for one to throw it under with you.

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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!