Created By: Kelly Marcel, Craig Silverstein Starring: Jason O'Mara, Stephen Lang, Shelley Conn, Christine Adams, Allison Miller, Landon Liboiron, Naomi Scott, Ashley Zukerman, Rod Hallett, Alana Mansour
Certificate: 12 Running Time: 44 Minutes (per episode), 13 Episodes
Tagline: "There is no paradise without sacrifice."
I think there's one thing that all modern, future-set movies and TV shows can agree on, and that's the inevitable demise of our environment owing to our own stupidity and shortsightedness. This is also the case with the version of earth found in Terra Nova. The brief time we spend in the show's vision of 2149 reveals a world much like the one we're headed towards. Human greed and recklessness have continued unchecked and our world is now an overpopulated one ravaged by pollution and environmental issues. As a result, people need to wear breathing units while outdoors, and there is also a strictly-enforced two-child-per-family rule. Things are not looking good for our near future, never mind longer term. As if in answer to these problems, a temporal rift is discovered that leads back to earth's Cretaceous Period where the air is clean and the landscape unspoiled.
|The Shannon family arrive in Terra Nova...|
Naturally, however, he escapes (with a little help) and sneaks through the portal along with his wife, three children, and the rest of the tenth pilgrimage, who soon find themselves 85 million years in the past on the lush, tropical super-continent of Pangaea which, as they're soon reminded, is also home to many different types of plants and animals long extinct in 2149, including dinosaurs. Lots of dinosaurs.
|A distance view of the whole colony...|
The colony itself is made up of an infirmary, research lab, market, bar, agricultural areas, housing, a command centre, and a few other bits and pieces. The number of residents gradually grows with each pilgrimage of course, but how many the big-wigs in 2149 are ultimately planning to send through isn't clear. The population does take losses now and then though - those guilty of a serious crime or found to be working against the interests of the colony are exiled 'OTG' to fend for themselves, and a few people have also fallen victim to the hungry dinos that live all around.
|Washington is captured by those pesky Sixers...|
In all fairness to its producers though (including Steven Spielberg), I can't imagine they only planned for just the one season, for yes, in case you didn't already know, Terra Nova was sadly cancelled a short while after the 13th and final episode aired. This was reportedly because, despite receiving decent reviews and ratings, the show proved too expensive to produce. It was, in fact, the most expensive TV show ever made at that time - the pilot episode alone cost a whopping $20 million - and it was beset by other problems and delays even beyond its original budget. It's a real shame too, if you ask me, as there's a lot of promise here.
|Surveying the vast wilderness...|
But while every show needs at least a few pesky people in it, the setting of this particular show prompted as much interest from potential viewers in Pangaea's distinctive native inhabitants as it did the newcomers, perhaps even more. That's understandable I guess - dinosaurs are always a source of fascination - but they don't feature as heavily here as you might expect.
|Taylor and Jim Shannon prepare to defend themselves...|
However nice it might've looked, though, the show apparently didn't find enough success to warrant a second, probably even more expensive season. It's annoying too - not all great shows have a stunning first season after all; much of the time they're more about establishing characters and laying the groundwork for bigger things to come, and I think that's what we have here.
|"Oh hey, what's going down?"|
It does leave us with a couple of cliff-hangers too, as you might expect, but even if the show had a super-happy ending where everything worked out wonderfully, it still would've been nice to see how the story continued, and given the ending we did get there was plenty of potential for future advancements so it does prove quite rather frustrating. It would've been nice to get more background on some characters, too.
I also can't help but wonder what the establishment of the colony might do in terms of temporal paradoxes. Supposedly the portal leads back to the distant past of an Earth from an alternative timeline or 'parallel universe' but even so - it would be naive, not to mention irresponsible, to assume life wouldn't develop in a similar way there, so the colony could be jeopardising the future evolution of mankind there. Oh well, that's a subject for another time and place I suppose, it certainly won't be addressed in future seasons of this splendid show. It had an interesting premise and was a TV pioneer in some ways, but was over before its time...
RKS Score: 8/10