Terra Nova – The Complete Series
It’s 2149 and we’ve finally done it, we’ve degraded our planet to a garbage dump where we can hardly live and have to wear oxygen masks in order to get some fresh air. To counter the overpopulation laws have been put into place that you’re not allowed to have more than 2 kids and that’s how we meet the Shannons. Despite Jim working with the police, he and his wife, Dr. Elisabeth Shannon, have two daughters and a son. Of course the government finds out about this and Jim gets locked away.
Luckily there’s some improvement on the way. A breach in time and space has been found and to prohibit mankind from extinction so-called pilgrimages are being organised. Through a one-way portal small groups of people are selected to go to the other side where they arrive on an alternate Earth 85 million years earlier in its evolution than ours. As renowned doctor Elisabeth has been selected to take part on one of these pilgrimages and after Jim succeeds to escape from jail with some help, the whole family arrives on Terra Nova.
Not all is hunkydory in the promised land, however. Next to the danger of hungry dinos the colonists also need to take on the so-called Sixers, rebels who arrived during the sixth pilgrimage and don’t have good intentions for the colony.
Dinos, an alternate universe, a portal, Steven Spielberg as executive producer and Stephen Lang in one of the leads… it’s like a combination of Jurassic Park with Stargate and Avatar. And that’s also the first impression you get when watching the pilot, even if the pace is a bit slow.
That pace rises a bit in later episodes, but soon is found to be inconsistent and the same can be said about the overall quality of the series. The concept is alright, but there are numerous problems to be found in just about all areas. Plenty of questions remain unanswered, there are huge errors in time progression (someone in the jungle suddenly is back in the colony, just in time to hear a conversation that can get that person into trouble), the script goes in all directions and also the acting could use some serious work.
The series doesn’t find the right balance between action and tension on one side, and the story surrounding the Shannon family on the other. To be honest: the parts about the family are supposed to deliver more depth and a sense of humanity but rather bring irritation and unnecessarily slow down the progress of the story.
Qua acting Stephen Lang (Avatar) doesn’t do a bad job as Commander Nathaniel Taylor but we can’t say the same about the rest of the cast. Jason O’Mara (Jim Shannon) does his best in the action sequences but doesn’t succeed to be believable as a dad or husband, and the rest of the cast does an even worse job. The only one who surprised us in a positive way was Simone Kessell who as Lt. Alicia Washington reminded us of Cmdr. Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5.
This doesn’t mean Terra Nova is a complete failure. As said the concept is ok and the story is fun to follow, but sadly enough it’s the execution that’s gone terribly wrong and as such it’s no surprise Fox decided to pull the plug after 13 episodes.
Qua image and sound we can’t complain at all. Even if this isn’t a Blu-ray, everything looks very good and the soundtrack uses all channels at full force to make sure you really get the feeling there’s a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex raging through your living room without this interfering with dialogues. It’s clear that where savings were made in script and a better cas, the special effects didn’t get held back by budget restraints.
The extras are a bit of a disappointment as they emphasize that the idea was to make multiple season. We start off with the “Director’s Diary Making the Pilot” in which we follow pilot director Alex Graves while he shows us how the colony was made and how the cast reacts as they see it for the first time. In “Mysteries Explored” we get a view on the seeds that were planted in the episodes to be further explored in later seasons, and in “The Dinosaurs of Terra Nova” we get to see how the dinos were made. We end with an audio commentary track and some deleted scenes.