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Terra Nova is a Terra No-Go [TV Review]

A review 65 million years in the making

In 1993, upon entering third grade (yes I just dated myself, big time), I was a dinosaur fanatic. All kids go through that dino-phase, but ultimately grow out of it. Not me. Spielberg and Chrichton instilled a morbid fascination of dinosaurs within me that summer, between the movie and novel versions of Jurassic Park. To this day, it is still one of my favorite films, and I have retained the bulk of my dino-knowledge. I could tell you which dinosaur was from what era, but not who competed in the last six Superbowls (I just tried this and embarrassed myself).

So when I heard Spielberg was bringing Terra Nova to television, the inner nerd in me was very guarded, but excited (please note, my inner nerd looks exactly like my outter nerd).

This Seems Familiar…

Take the utopian image of children’s novels Dinotopia, sprinkle in some Lost in Space Robinson family, and filter it through the post-Lost television era.

Brief Synopsis

Terra Nova

"What's out there?" "We'll find out by Season 2... maybe..."

The year is 2149 and the planet is overrun with pollution and is a barren wasteland. Go figure. The government (I guess) has decided to send pilgrimages back in time to fix the planet… it’s actually never explained why they are going back other than the cryptic promise of the show: “The key to Earth’s survival lies 65 million years in the past.”

Time out. By 2149, we have perfected time travel, but we can’t clean up our mess? That would be like if my cleaning lady had a degree in quantum mechanics but just can’t seem to get a handle on those streaky windows! Sorry, I promised my mom I wouldn’t talk about her in my writing. Save it for group.

Zooey Deschanel

Really? Nobody???

Alright, so we already have a shaky premise, but at least it is more believable than The New Girl. You’re telling me NOBODY in New York wants to sleep with Zooey Deschanel?! If she is that desperate, she shouldn’t have shot me down years ago when– again, save it for group.

One family (Cop husband, Doctor wife, bratty rebel son, nerdy daughter, and illegal third kid… because “families are four” as the signs in the future say) goes back in time to start fresh. Only they find out that some of their problems (family dynamics) follow them. From there, we find them struggling to adapt to their new surroundings. And, oh yeah! Dinosaurs! Remember those? They show up at one point, almost subsequently to remind us they are part of this show.

As it turns out, the people at Terra Nova have some competition, and not just with the dinosaurs. A rogue group of separatists, the Sixers, cause problems for the terra farmers. Who are these Sixers and what do they want? And what are these strange, mathematical sketches on the rock-faces out in the jungle? Is anybody listening to me?

Yabba-Dabba-Do” more of this

Look, it’s a sci-fi show! Riding on the coattails of Fringe and Lost, this has potential to grow. Couple that with pretty solid CGI and you may gain some longevity. And who doesn’t like dinosaurs, guns, and warring jungle clans?

I have a fossil to pick with…

The fact of the matter is this is pretty well worn territory, which sounds weird considering its about  time traveling farmers who fight dinosaurs. But the characters are all very base. We have seen this family a billion times before, and they don’t even try to deviate in the slightest. Mark my words, if this show gets its legs, you’ll see the little girl with a whacky, cute pet by the end of the season; probably a small dinosaur or proto-mammal. And the writing, as far as plot exposition, is very on-the-nose.(watch the brainy daughter, she is the WORST!).


Your source material, writers.

dinosaursdinosaursWe also have the issue of time travel. No movie or television series will get it right like Back to the Future. You create more problems than you solve by going Terminator style, which (I think) this show has gone. They talk about separate time streams and… you just lost 90% of America. Lastly, if the writers of Terra Nova are reading this, please… don’t make up dinosaurs. No, I am calling you out on it. Slashers? What the crap?! Velociraptors weren’t good enough? Carnotaurus couldn’t have been a T-rex? You have a well that’s over 500 species deep, and you decided to say “screw it” and throw darts at the dinosaur board. Be more Dr. Grant, less Dr. Moreau.

Last Words

This show has the potential to be a long running show full of twists and turns. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. It feels very much like mid-Lost where you HAVE to watch, not because you want to, but because so much is left unanswered, and you value your sleep at night. That, and dammit, I want to see more dinosaurs. I give this show 2.5 amber-encrusted mosquitos out of 5. I’ll watch, but mostly because there isn’t much on Monday nights… wait, football!