Terra Nova Review: A Problem With Procedure

at . Comments

I'm having a tough time reviewing Terra Nova because it's not the show I thought it was meant to be. I'm not even sure it knows what it is, or wants to be.

The series seemed to start out as some version of a serialized science fiction drama. Then, for a couple episodes it tried to be a family drama wrapped in a dinosaur-filled world. Then there was "The Runaway," which seemed to be some sort of spy thriller, and this week's "Bylaw" felt very much like a police procedural.

On the Murderous Case

I don't watch a lot of cop shows (The Mentalist and Hawaii Five-0 are the exceptions), but it didn't seem like this was a terribly bad episode of this genre. They did a decent job at keeping the identity of the killer under wraps until the end, and the setup by Jim and Taylor was nice, but early on it was blatantly obvious that it wasn't going to be the dude who confessed.

I'm not a procedurals guy due to their structure alone. I watch the the programs above for Simon Baker and the Alex O'Laughlin/Scott Caan duo, respectively. If the overarching story isn't going to be all that compelling, I need the characters I'm watching to keep me interested. But Terra Nova is yet to exude those type of compelling, or even just humorous, individuals.

Thankfully, the show has kept one intriguing long running storyline going. The fact that it deals with the teenage angst of Josh, and his goal of bringing his girlfriend to Terra Nova, concerns me, but at least it's something to grab a hold of.

It's something to keep me interested while I watch generic murder stories. Well, I guess generic is a stretch seeing as that this man was killed with a dinosaur! But I'm still interested, and the Mira and her Sixers are a big part of that.

Mira and her Someday I'll ask something of you and you'll comply without question was very reminiscent of every mob boss in every gangster movie ever, but that doesn't mean I'm not still curious about what she'll ask of Josh at some point in the future.

I am. But even more than that, I'm always interested in viewing a good old fashion dinosaur chase, and that's what we were treated to in "Bylaw." That chase, and Taylor's speech to the colony about banishing the man that confessed, were my two favorite moments of the episode. I haven't been a very big fan of Stephen Lang's Taylor thus far, but he nailed the emotion there.

Now if only Terra Nova could nail everything else, we might have a better show going on here. For now, it's still intriguing enough. Just enough. What about you? What has worked? And what hasn't?


Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
  • 3.5 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (93 Votes)

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


interesting premise destroyed by hackneyed plot lines and even more cliched characters. the writers to this show must have all met while shopping at a Ed Hardy outlet. The writers who come to work wearing sweaters depicting a cat hanging on a branch saying "i hate mondays" should all be immediately fired. with a flamethrower.


hey this is the only series that im really following at the moment, what's up with you lot?
i must say, when i saw the ads for terra nova i pretty much gagged and was baffled that channel 10 was screening a fictional show about DINOSAURS as prime time tv. i protested profusely as my younger brother and sister wanted to switch channels so they could watch it instead of Bones which was what we were watching at the time. and.. i was hooked. the whole preface about a ruined world, going back in time to start again, can't say i saw that coming. so after the first episode, i thought 'well, that was great but seriously what can they do with this show now? that's it i guess' but, i was wrong. every episode they've screened since has thrown in something fascinating, new, unpredictable. i disagree with the comments above and frankly the entire article, sorry, but i rather like the way they've catered for a broader audience, offering action, romance, drama, sci-fi, bam bam bam. makes for an exciting series, and all the bits of intrigue they've offered, i don't believe are lose ends - unanswered questions - but rather hooks to keep us interested and promises of fascinating episodes to come.
perhaps im too young and haven't been around for enough series to cause me to become bored with the structure and genre terra nova utilises, but i can say i've had my fair share of Neighbours, Home and Away, Smallville, McCleods Daughters and countless reality tv shows.
but i'm definitely watching tonights episode at 8:30 :D


The concept of Terra Nova is an intriguing one. Regrettably the production team has chosen to focus on the least interesting aspects of the idea. From the beginning the show has been flawed by hackneyed and cliched scripts. They missed the chance to do something unique with the series. I think a much more fascinating series could have focused on the science of colonizing and the politics both uptime and downtime of colonizing the past. The premise of a dying planet was ridiculous and unnecessary. An individuals or a family's choice to leave a comfortable and secure existence to sail off into the unknown would have been as dramatic and more touching than the mess of the first episode. Following the daily lives of the colonists as they go about the business of making a new life in a completely wild and untamed world would provide better story-lines than a displaced cop and teen angst. There is so much wrong with this series that could have been done in a more thoughtful and dare I say, educational manner that it seems a shame and a sad waste of a good concept, a talented cast and a fascinating setting.


I Like the story premiss, however I'd like the writers to stay a bit more focused on their story threads that have already been presented. Taylor's Son,(What's with the Glyphs on the rocks? ) You can get 2-3 shows out of that. Mira and the Sixers (Intriguing, why would you leave the relative comfort of Terra Nova to live in the top of a tree Ala Swiss Family Robinson?Oh and why would you let someone do that to you? )worth at least 2 shows, Taylor and the Government (Dude tick off the wrong people and they send your happy behind packing 85 mil years in the past. Out of sight out of mind.) That one is worth 2 shows at the least. , The Josh /Kara thing needs to be quashed. He's 85 million years in the past. Don't complicate the story line with to much teenage angst way past being overly done, oh and if they do bring her through can she be next to be eaten see problem fixed) . Let's talk about what they are doing there. Are they setting it up to bring more people in? How many people do they actually plan to relocate? Is there a way to collapse the portal? You have a psuedo group of outsiders,are they capable of cutting of their only means of escape ( If there really is a way back.) Just my 2 cents worth. Take it or leave it.


This is so slow. Typical Braga where the answers to huge problems and found at the last minute, Star Trek style. Real frontier Sci Fi was Outcasts, the BBC production that was sadly cancelled.


I had such high hopes for this show, because it has HUGE potential. However, so far it seems like just another unimaginative let's-wrap-this-up-in-an-hour program, and the long-running storylines (Josh, the Sixers) aren't compelling enough for water-cooler debates, which is what the premise of this show practically screams. Instead, it's an adult version of Land of The Lost. Fox needs to spend less money on special effects and appearances, and more money on better writing and compelling storylines. This show really has a lot potential, but it's being eclipsed by unimaginative storytelling and CGI dinosaurs.


As a general feeling for the series, the first episode was compelling and interesting, with a refreshing originality in how it presented itself. However, the second episode was rehashing old TV clichés and began sending the show in too many directions. It's like the writers didn't know who the core audience is, so they try and please everyone.
The promos showed action and some very cool-looking sci-fi possibilities, but now it's turning into a teen drama with dinosaurs.
Josh is an idiot. Skye is totally hot, smart, funny and she obviously cares for him and respects him enough to go through with helping him get his girlfriend back. What a moron.
Tyler's ok, I like him more and more, and Lang seems to get better at playing him with every episode. The Shannons are boring, I'm not interested in them at all, even Jim. Jim could be a bad ass ex-cop endured from his hard time. He could've been much more ambiguous because of his prison term, but instead he's a pure Paladin.
I like the wife though, she's very interesting. What else? This show on HBO would've been awesome. But on mainstream TV? It plays it too safe.


Can anyone tell me what has happen to Mido Hamada's character - Guzman? Ever since his Daughter almost got eaten alive he's been written out of the scripts. The show is okay, but really needs to pick up some steam with actions scene against the Sixers, more on Taylor's lost Son, scenes of 2147 and more action against the reptile clan. Otherwise this show is going the 2 year route and straight to DVD box set.


Josh is the long running storyline? What about the origin and purposes of the sixers? Why is Taylor not liked by the government in the future? Is he really the bad guy? He clearly knows more than he let on in early episodes. The whole issue with Josh is a continuation of that storyline of what is really going on with the government. This show continues the theme of what is the cost of paradise ("starting over")? Right now Terra Nova is not democratic, I am not sure if that fits in yet or not; Perhaps that is why Taylor was to be ousted by the Sixers? This show has more of an epic story feel to it. The problem for a lot of people is that is hard to be committed to a story week after week. Some episodes are exposition or largely setup for what is to come. The other issue is it is hard for people to come to it and pick up everything. I recently caught up on a first season of a cable series and started watching the new season because the network aired the first 6 episodes /season premier day. Now I am watching AMC's "Walking Dead". Unfortunately these non-cable networks do not have the same oppurtunity to get the story out there. Of course the only similiarity I see with Terra Nova and the Walking Dead is that there seems to be intent to tell one story over a long period rather than a series of short stories in individual episodes.


This show is so dumb... I had high hopes that Terra Nova would be a great Sci-Fi show but it ended being an stupid family crap with some dinosaurs... And the writers... just lol... so mindless plots and situations. I hope there is no second season.

Tags: ,

Terra Nova Season 1 Episode 6 Quotes

How do you kill a man with a dinosaur?


Mira: You're the cop's kid.
Josh: Or Josh.