Terra Nova Review: Son of a Son of a Taylor

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Anyone who has watched the first 10 episodes of Terra Nova knows that it is not brilliant television. The acting isn't all that great, the dialogue has been awkward and the series took a while to figure out just one kind of show it wanted to be.

All that said, "Within" was the third straight episode in which I have more positive things to say than negative ones. Sure, that may be because the problems with each outing tend to be similar week in and week out, and nobody would want to read about that time and time again, but if Terra Nova gets a second season by FOX, I think it's heading in a decent direction.

An Important Address

Let's start with the best of the best. Ashley Zukerman was fantastic this week as his Lucas Taylor finally got a bit more screen time. He was a pretty great villain in this hour, with his character proving to be creepy, funny, smart and emotional. Zukerman combined all of that into the best performance we've seen on this show to date.

Between constantly referring to Skye as "Bucket," wanting to take out his father for what happened to his mom and destroying all of those nobodies with a sonic wave, it's just a shame that it took until the 10th episode to introduce such an interesting character to a series so lacking in them.

The next major positive from "Within" was the pleasantly emotional scene between Skye and her mom. It was just a nicely acted, well-timed moment between a mother and a daughter. I would have been even more touched if this weren't the first time in 11 hours worth of television that there was a scene provoking any type of emotion other than anger.

It was too little too late, just like the plot leading up to the impending battle between Lucas' employers and Terra Nova. The past two or three episodes have done a good job at teasing this battle. The motives of Lucas and his employers have intrigued me a bit, but again, the first seven episodes were too poorly done - and all over the place creatively - to get me all that interested in how this season is going to end.

While many of my positive comments above have been a variation of the backhanded compliment, what I have to say about Jim Shannon's detective work could be categorized as no such thing.

Terra Nova has really failed at developing this character. Is he a good husband? I'm not sure. Is he a terrible father? I'm not sure. Is he a good cop? Again, I'm not sure. He seems to be, based on the fact that Taylor elevated him to Sheriff so quickly, but tonight's episode provides both cases simultaneously.

First, we witnessed Jim questioning a couple of suspects in the spy case. One of the suspects is Skye, to whom Jim asks one question: where were you during such and such time on a specific day? Well, thanks for coming in. That's it? That's all it takes?

Then the question becomes, why would Skye use Josh as her excuse? Why the detective's son? Oh, well, obviously as a way to keep Josh involved in the plot of the episode. That’s convenient.

So then, after Jim did no questioning of Skye at all, he's completely convinced it's her after seeing a video of her sneaking out at night? That's all it takes to be certain she's guilty?  

What made the whole thing so much more infuriating was that Jim figured out exactly what was going on with hardly any evidence or clues. When Patrick Jane solves the crime on The Mentalist, it is because he is an expert at picking up on people's reactions. When Rick Castle solves a crime, it's because his experience as an author allows him to see things creatively.

Terra Nova has given us no reason to believe that Jim Shannon should have solved this case... well, except for the fact that he IS the "Sheriff."

As frustrating as it can be, like I stated above, there are still some things keeping me slightly interested in Terra Nova. Zukerman's Lucas is now a big one. Hopefully he makes his way back through the portal with his employers to take on Terra Nova in next week's finale.

What about you, TV Fanatics? What did you think of "Within?" And are you looking forward to seeing how the first season is going to end in next week's double-sized episode?


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (81 Votes)

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


@Melissa Crocker - I totally agree. This is one show that I always look forward to watching.


I'm with you. I've found the show to be dull beyond words and the lead characters among the least rounded of any series. I'm also caught in a time-vortex here. By inhabiting the world years (millions of years) before they are supposed to, isn't there an enormous chance they'll change the future just by being there. Added to which it's proven that the vegetation at the time of the dinosaurs was scaled up in proportion to the beasts that ate it.....
I hate that a sci fi series disappoints so much (Stargate Universe was the last that did), but really, it deserves to go.


What is the chance that this over acted hodge podge will not come back next season?


The Josh character and story line have become tedious, and too much of the show has been devoted to them. Where's a Slasher when you need one? Just think of the drama\conflict then - Jim must come to grips with the death of his son while also trying to fight off an invasion from the future. Biggest complaint of the show - no Walking Dead.


Lets talk after the 2 hour finale..


this may be one of the worst shows on tv. Jim Shannon is the most unlikable character i have seen in my life. you know the character development is awful when you are rooting for Lucas to wipe out all of Terra Nova, especially the Shannon family.


Blake, every review is going to be an opinion. If not, then all you will be doing is stating what happened in the episode. Check out our episode recaps for that. You may not agree with some of my negative opinions of Terra Nova, so let us know what you loved about the episode. There are definitely aspects of the show that I enjoy, as witnessed by my review above. -Dan


My son and I have watched every episode. To date, we have yet to see any redeeming qualities in Josh. He's whiny, he regularly disobeys his parents by lying and stealing, and he's pining over a girl in 2149 who he's known for SIX MONTHS yet says he loves. All the while, he's got a fairly attractive young lady right there in Terra Nova in Skye (her being the mole notwithstanding). I agree that the pacing and stories in the last three or so episodes have picked up, but the thing I can't seem to get over is this - how is it that all these people can go living and sneaking around in the woods that by rights should be infested with dinosaurs. The pteradons at the beginning of this episode and the brachiosaurs in the one scene (pardon my ignorance if I got the species wrong) were the only dinosaurs shown last night. I had thought the colony would interact with the local life more, but that life seems to be an afterthought in the series.


I believe your problem with Terra Nova is that you want a shoot em up, beat em up violent show. What we have is a family oriented imaginative show that I love. Each week we see characters care about and support each other, sometimes struggling with doing what may be right and or wrong in that support. Of course problems aren't solved like Castle or Jane, they're in the dinosaur age for heaven's sake. Bad acting? Taylor is fantastic in his ruling over Terra Nova and we find out more about him everyweek. The rest may not be great actors but at the least I'd call them good.
I'm actually not looking forward to young Taylor's involvement. I would rather see them struggle to exist with the dinosaurs and the unknown outside of the gates than bring in the evil humans because that's been done over and over and it's pretty predictable. The quality that made the show unique will be lost with a bunch of rich, selfish bad guys from the future running around.
Can't a show just be something the tv audience looks forward to watching each week without having all Emmy Award winning acting by everyone.
Just sit back and enjoy the scenery, it's beautiful, and so is the show.


The series was enjoyable. The actors were great and no less. Each characters back story have been unfolded and made sense in connection with the story line as a whole. I really don't understand how you do not understand anything about Jim when all the previous episode showed who Jim really is. He cared about his family and he would do all he can to protect them. As an example, remember the very first episode???? He did what he could do to protect his youngest daughter from being caught. That already in itself tells a lot about who Jim really is as a person..If you didn't notice. About Jim's work as a detective; this is Terra Nova, which supposedly existed waaaay back some millions of years ago. They didn't really bring with them a concrete system for detective work, if you didn't notice. Your logic about how detectives from other thrillers solve their case is less of logic than itself. (So, like castle, in order to solve a mystery based a small population such as Terra Nova, he must require something similar to this almost fictitious specialty? This isn't the movie you mention. It has somewhat more of a realistic view and approaches to it) It made sense how Jim found out. Why would you crawl out of a safe haven and put your self at risk in a dangerous zone? That brings curiosity which lead Jim to finding evidence which he actually mention and provided. He solved this case because he was a cop, he had the intellect, he was trained, and its obvious one thing will lead to another. Don't be so biased next time you make a review.

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Terra Nova Season 1 Episode 11 Quotes

How is the great Commander? Has he walked on water yet?


Skye: Have you always hated him this much?
Lucas: No, not always. It started in 2138.