Terra Nova is an entertaining action-adventure/mystery that will appeal to fans who enjoy dinosaur fight scenes, touching family moments, and suggestions of deep mystery.
The Steven Spielberg-produced show follows Jim Shannon, an ex-cop in jail, whose family consists of surgeon wife Liz and their three kids, Josh, Maddie, and Zoe. While imprisoned, his wife gets an offer to go to Terra Nova, an untouched earth reached through a time portal.
Much of the pilot is spent explaining the parameters of this world. In 2149, the earth has become a polluted wreck of a planet where people must wear gas masks at all times to protect themselves from the air. Scientists have discovered a new timestream (thus ensuring that fiddling around in the past won't destroy the future -- the quantum mechanics here is a little iffy) to take humans 85 million years into the past, where air has oxygen in it and dinosaurs roam the earth.
In the future earth families are limited to two children, a rule the Shannons break for some unexplained reason. Jim -- in jail -- and Zoe -- not allowed -- must stowaway into the past.
The past is a lush paradise with solar panels, wind turbines, exotic fruits and little cottages that let in the sunlight (a novelty for our futuristic friends). It's a spectacular backdrop (filmed in Australia) of snaking vines, immense trees, and strange animals. Commander Nathaniel Taylor (from Avatar fame) is the leader of this little camp, and according to him, the first man ever to have arrived in Terra Nova.
"We are at the dawn of a new civilization," he tells the assembled crowd.
The Shannons spend some time wandering the village and getting overly excited about produce, but the parts of the pilot not used to set up the show are primarily filled with pure action. Terra Nova plays a little like a condensed version of every classic science-fiction action flick you've ever seen. One of the more thrilling scenes shows us a group of teens trapped in a car, surrounded by slashers (velociraptor-like dinosaurs) as they frantically gun through window slots.
Terra Nova is also tinged with shades of Lost, and not just because of the jungle. We meet the Sixers, renegade humans who control the quarry and live outside of the village's boundaries. Unlike the "others" (from Lost), the Sixers seem to believe in some mysterious conspiracy involving unintelligible scribbles on rocks and speculation about what Terra Nova was really founded for.
The Shannons, are likeable enough, if not yet fully fleshed out. In a funny quirk of character, Maddie is a monumental nerd who occasional spouts out scientific facts about the size of the moon and the bone structure of dinosaurs -- seriously guys, this is a new world.
Overall I would give Terra Nova a rating of 4 out of 5 and I would recommend this show to any one of my friends, (as I acutally already have). Have you already seen it? What did you think? Let me know by leaving a comment below!