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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.

Review

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.

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I guess I watched this show more closely then some others. To anyone saying Jim got in way to quickly with Taylor or was welcomed to easily, well relax, its a pilot, things move fast, plus the big things some of you are missing is this: Its a dictatorship for the most part. Taylor runs the show at the colony, and considering there is no way back to the present time they are kind of stuck with certain things. Jim was in jail protecting his 3rd child in a world where a family is 4, Terra Nova does not have such rules, so Taylor generally doesn't care all that much that what he did was technically illegal in the present timeline. On top of that I guess you don't pay attention to characters, Taylors own son went missing, he talks to the doc about it and you can tell while this guy might be tough as nails he also had a family once and lost a son (lost, went missing, taken away from him). He can relate to Jim. Plus Jim is not a scientist, Jim is not a gardner, Jim was a law man, and considering how Terra Nova seems to function fine regarding food, water, healthcare, and there biggest issue is security, its not surprising he trusts Jim. Jim was not a murderer, he punched a cop trying to protect his Family. What should Taylor have done seriously, through him out of the colony to fend for himself, be picked up by the sixers or be killed by dino? His family was there, they needed his wife so they were not going anywhere. All in all, Taylor told him go be a gardner, then after saving his life realized the guy was not a desk cop and could be useful. Its amazing what people get upset about without paying attention. Look, I loved Lost, but man knowing where that show went I would have just watched season 1 and 2 and turned it off with all the holes, unanswered questions. No show is perfect. My only issue with TN is the bulletproof dino's but I have a feeling showing a Slasher cut in two by a automatic rifle is not something FOX can show.

Farsia2010

@ all the haters
you hate the show, fine that's your opinion but you really need to learn some manners. we all come here to have a discussion, to share our opinions, and calling people morons and idiots just because you lack the arguments to prove a point and you have to stoop to insults? that's just rude and doesn't tell a good story of your intellect. @at people who think that Jim god into the inner circle too fast did anybody think that maybe his seemingly apparent disregard for the law is what got him through, this Commander has some shady business going on, and there is clearly some alternate motivations, so maybe he needs a guy who he thinks won't mind so much about the morality and ideals?

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The premise of the show is excellent on paper, and I found the premier interesting enough. However, I worry that this show will eventually suffer, because it is trying too hard to appeal to all demographics. There were times when I felt like I was watching a promising science fiction TV show along the lines of "Lost", and other times when I felt like I was watching a poorly scripted ABC family show aimed at teens. And while I do love certain teen-targeted shows like Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries, this show will fail miserably if it tries to do that. I found myself hitting the fast forward button on my DVR anytime there was a scene with the annoying son and the band of renegade teens....the scenes were way too cheesy and did not fit well with the plot! However, I did like the two daughters....it would have been enough to have just them. This was the show that I looked forward to watching the most this season, but if it continues along the lines of the first episode, I will probably lose interest, which is a shame.

Piecar

I agree with Bobby Pope. This show won't last. It's pretty cheesy and mostly silly. I agree, too, with the point where I knew it was gonna fail. "Did we do the right thing?" Idiotic question to try to wring drama out of what is basically Land Of The Lost With Angst.
Seriously? From distrusting an escaped felon to putting him on a security team...In what, two days? Avatar Dude didn't see The Cop follow the guy for three blocks. He just saw him tackle a guy with a gun. How does this erase his doubts?
There are no characters in this show, so far....Just types. And unbelievably earnest types at that. There was no moment in this show that seemed a natural moment. It all read like a script.
Enjoy it while it lasts.

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Well, gee, Bobby, if you say it's bad, then it MUST be bad.
Seriously, people, you argue that a lot of effort wasn't put into this show, because it is very well-made and obviously cost a fortune, but it seems like those who disliked the show feel the need to generalize and insist that it is bad. I say state your opinions and keep it at that.
I liked the show. I thought it looked stunning and set up plenty of potential areas of exploration for future episodes, from the Sixers to Taylor's mysterious past, and from family drama to the potential for Terra Nova to affect the future (as Mira indicates at the end of the episode) despite beliefs that it won't.
It seems that those who didn't enjoy the show bash it extensively, and those who did are not represented well on these boards, which makes sense because they have nothing to complain about. Those who don't like the show criticize the lack of reality of the dinosaurs, or the thinness of the plot-lines: 1) These dinosaurs beat the sand monster from Lost any day, and 2) This is a pilot episode. Let the show take off from here, and THEN lay into it if it doesn't live up to expectations. For crying out loud people, this show has potential, so let's see if it reaches it.

Youngnan

A little bit boring... for a show about dinosaurs. And I was actually hoping that at some point they'd separate him from his hard-to-like, all-bases-covered family. Was kinda hoping they'd have killed off a family member in the pilot, just to slack off some of the cliche-ness. Don't know why people thought they shouldn't have revealed the info about Taylor's son. That was as obvious as the 3rd child being in the bag. This show isn't about suspense. All in all, it was good. Better than that Falling Skies nightmare at least, which is my new base low for sci-fi series. Carnivorous dinosaurs are always good and I look forward to the next dinosaur-man battle as long as the show racks up a believable death toll.

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The show is bad, guys. I actually turned it off after the female protagonist says, “did we do the right thing?� This is after her family is finally together, they’ve left uninhabitable earth and they stole back their 5 year-old daughter… Could things be better? Was this even a realistic question? This sums up how unrealistic these people are. In addition, the edit crew took so many liberties leaving important things out (how does the guy actually escape from prison, who do they steal the daughter back from, how does he get through restricted security) that viewers are left to assume they’ll pay no attention to future implausible situations (regarding characters in dilemma) and just avoid them. Lots of loop holes (in first thirty minutes) and I found myself more interested in the plot lines they significantly left out as opposed to the plot line they took. Lazy story telling at best… I was excited to watch this. Really. However, the people affiliated with this were so obviously consumed with hitting every possible demographic that they zapped out any sort of creative continuity that would have kept me interested in the characters and their plight. In addition, the characters were all stereo-typical cookie cut-outs (good guy, bad guy, army guy, Abercrombie model). I could care less about a male protagonist who thinks he’s above the law. It would be different if the show had intentions of flushing out his flawed character. However, the show shamelessly justifies every cartoonish action he makes solidifying their position that everybody else is abnormal. It’s not about matters of taste here. It’s rather self-evident that this show is self righteous crap… Lastly, why in God’s name is there Obama money, a materialization of Al Gore’s futuristic world and/or solar panel reference’s. So, we’ve got ourselves a hyped up show appearing both self-righteous (on the face of it) and baked with political references- no thanks. These hacks will lose millions of dollars on advertising and production- Terra Nova won’t last two seasons, guys. I’ll come home from work on Mondays (after I put the kids to bed) and watch LOST on Netflix.

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Painfully dumb. $20 million in special effects. $.02 in story. What crap

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I don't understand the negativity of some of these reviews. Why would someone question the intellect of a viewer who liked it? What have any of the characters managed to do in one episode that makes you want to see them eaten? My point is that it was premiere. I'm not a producer or director but there is a lot of stuff to cover in the start of a show like this. Things did move very fast but I bet once the show gets in its rhythm it will be quite good. I found the family and Terra Nova staff totally likable. The story line seems to be heading in a good direction. Most of the complaints I have seen here were explained for anyone who paid attention. So some dinosaur spices are not KNOW to have existed during that time. It's not the discovery channel. All in all it was good and I look forward to next week.

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what? the kid was in the backpack? who could've guessed?!?!? omg this show SUCKED couldn't get past the first 20 minutes.

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.

Josh

He'll find a way. He always does!

Elizabeth