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.


Cliched. Plot holes. Ridiculous storylines. Premature reveal on the equations. Somewhat entertaining.


@Timothy- He was only in prison for two years.
@Don- I agree that they got too comfortable too fast, but at the same time, if this is only a 13-episode season planned, they probably have to do as much as they can as quickly as they can in order to advance the plot.
I really enjoyed the pilot, both the action and family conflict aspects. The one part that was confusing to me was Jim's whole escape route- I can't stand when scenes are so dark that you can't really make out what is happening, and this was one of those scenes that confused me. I'll agree that there were a few plot holes- like how the people in the future knew that a doctor was needed at Terra Nova when there is no communication between the worlds- but I can let them go because the story itself was exciting and it was escapism at its best. Loved Jason O'Mara and whoever the woman is that plays his wife. The kids could use more development- I wonder how long it will be before Josh moves in with Skye and company. I thought they revealed a bit too much at the end when they told us (already) that the rock markings were done by Taylor's son (as this confirms that he is alive and solves a potential season-long mystery). Overall, though, a solid first show, and I plan to continue watching!~!


I enjoyed the show, it was something different for a change, I can't believe all the negativity about it. It was fast paced ,the dinasaurs looked realistic, and I liked the characters. I'm looking forward to the next episode.


I liked the show, but there were too many comericals ... I will DVR it next time


@Marie J Phillips: Allosaurus and Brontosaurus (a.k.a. Apatosaurus) both lived in the Jurassic. I can understand Allosaurus (they probably wanted a realtively well-known apex predator, but didn't want to use T.rex again), but there were so many more large herbivores. Why always Apatosaurus?
The story is also quite dumb. I will give it another shot next week and hope the best. I just like dinosaurs too much :)


Dan, I found myself comparing the show to BSG (Battlestar Galactica), where the story took place and involved space but wasn't the core of the show. I found Terra Nova doing the same thing. Setting up "The Sixes" and Taylor's son as counter points and protagonist (or antagonist) reminds me a lot of Baltar and the Cylons. I agree that Jim got in with Taylor's group a little quick. I would have rather seen him having embraced the gardener life a little while and have the events that unfolded happen after a week or so where Jim could show his character is about doing what is right in any job.. Sure, he slipped up when it came to his third child, but I am willing to bet there is a back story there we will learn as we go along. Personally, I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series and I hope it has a nice long run! Jim~


not even going to bother with the second episode.


I just really dislike the family. They are arrogant and annoying. People have been there for 7 years and I'm supposed to believe an ex-cop with no affinity for the law when it applies to his own family is the greatest thing to hit the compound? I really wanted to like it, but I don't think I can. They all seem like arrogant idiots.


for the people complaining about people finding parts unrealistic and picking it apart--that's because it is SCIENCE fiction, and people who work in the engineering/astrophysics/'science' oriented fields who watch are expecting, not "real" laser guns, but logical extrapolations of current conditions and science capabilities/knowledge. Yes, it's a show and escapism, but some of the things are just plain stupid, illogical, and annoying as hell--especially when they've thrown so much money at this show. I'm just waiting for the Sleestaks to show up.


I wasn't expecting a great show but I was expecting anything this bad either. It's fine for children. But if you are an adult & find this show in any way entertaining or interesting, you are a moron. Let's hope the dinosaurs eat the entire cast next week...

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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!