Fall TV season always brings a smile to my face because every once in a while, there’s a real gem of a show that captures my imagination with a solid combination of good acting, strong writing and believable plots.
Terra Nova’s premiere aired last night on FOX and the network has high hopes for this show. There’s been a trend on US network television over the past few years that I highly approve of: more science fiction and fantasy. There have been some winners (Fringe) and some shows that started out as winners and then quickly attained a high degree of suckage (Heroes) and then there are shows that just plain sucked outright (reboot of “V”).
I really wanted to like this show. It has Spielberg’s name attached to it, so it had to be good, right? Wrong. There is so much wrong with this show, I don’t even know where to begin, but here goes:
The show starts out in the year 2149. Earth is wrecked: overpopulation, wholesale environmental collapse, all the nightmare scenarios you can think of currently being presented by Al Gore and his ilk. Aha! Scientists discovered a rift in space-time that allows people to travel 85 million years back in time to the Jurassic period, but it’s an Earth of an alternate reality, offering a chance to save humanity. The Shannon family (father Jim, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children Josh, Maddy and Zoe) join the tenth pilgramage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first human colony on the other side of the temporal doorway. (This after Jim (a cop) spends a couple of years behind bars for punching out a cop after authorities search their home amid suspicion of an unauthorized birth of a third child. Somehow Jim managed to break out of prison and into the super defended big time high tech gateway to the past complex with the aforementioned third child hidden in a backpack, but hey, anything can happen in the future, right?)
So they make it to the colony intact. Jim is called to the carpet by the Commander Nathaniel Taylor (played by Stephen Lang who last I watched in the god-awful Ted Turner produced civil war drama Gods and Generals) he’s questioned and is assigned to become a gardener, of all things. Let’s see, oh, Jim has a son who apparently hates his father for having gone to jail, so insert petulant stereotypical teenage male here, and the son hooks up with some other teens (on his first day in prehistoric Earth) to go OTG (outside the gate) and spend the afternoon, you guessed it, drinking. Hijinks ensue.
Jim gets a job working for Taylor as a cop after Jim thwarts an assassination attempt on Taylor by a “Sixer” – a person from a rival colony of humans that broke off from the sixth pilgrimage. (Sixers have a nefarious plot to do … something. We don’t know who the leader of the Sixers might be, but Taylor’s son went missing a few years back and I suspect he’s the leader of the Sixers.)
So anyway, back to the drinking teens. They decide its time to head back to the safety of the colony but someone has taken their power packs from their hummer of the future. Who was it? Well, Sixers of course. (They were then promptly dispatched by some poorly CGI’d Velociraptor wanna-be dinos save for one who is bleeding to death in the back of the Sixer hummer of the future.) The teens head over to the Sixer hummer, find the bleeding guy and are attacked by the aforementioned CGI’d Velociraptor wanna-be dinos. Taylor sees the teens on a security camera recording from earlier in the day when they went OTG, a search party is dispatched. One of the teens has a meltdown and flees from the hummer only to be nearly eaten by the dinos. She is saved by Taylor’s team (which includes Jim and Jim’s wife who is a doctor.) The team eventually finds the irresponsible teens and rescues them. (This after the one teen who is too skinny for meat eating dinosaurs to eat is actually dragged out of the hummer thingy by a Velociraptor wannabe. Oh, did I mention the hungry dinosaur instead of eviscerating the teen only chews on the tee’s ankle. The teen is able to walk on said mauled ankle/leg moments later. Weird, that.)
This show has so much wrong with it (including mysterious symbols scratched into some rocks that look like mathematical equations) that I have to wonder if the show was aired purposefully to piss off even moderately intelligent people. The worst part is this: it’s a great premise that could have been spectacular. Instead, the writers and producers introduced utterly predictable stereotypical characters and hey, when you go back in time because you’re admitting that humanity has screwed the pooch with its wars, guns, pollution, etc, then it makes sense to have humanity carry on with those same behaviors that so screwed them 85 million years in the future!
Seriously, they could have made this show fantastic by simply showing how colonists survive! I mean, there are giant freaking dinosaurs everywhere, right? Just plain surviving would have been enough, but no. No, we have to water down the show with the same old boring crap that drives a geek like me nuts.
So, there you have it. I officially hate Terra Nova. Mostly because it’s the same old suburban crap only 85 million years in the past. It’s Land of the Lost meets Lost meets dysfunctional family of the future gone time traveling. It was a time-traveling let-down of epic proportions.