Steven Spielberg has struck gold a second time this year on TV. First with Falling Skies and second with Terra Nova.
The year is 2149 and the earth is on the edge of ecological disaster, not unlike our world now but pushed so close to the cusp there arnt many options left to sustain life on the planet. Population control is in place limited families to 2 children only. We start out with the Shannon family who has 3 kids and attempts to hide that third child from the authorities only to get caught. Jim Shannon ends up in jail for a 6 year sentence.
2 Years later his wife visits to explain they have been invited to go on the pilgrimage to Terra Nova, a trip 85 million years into the past. She has devised an escape plan for him and for their third child Zoe, which they were told was not allowed to go with. At the portal to Terra Nova, Jim manages his way there, fighting off security and ends up with his family in Terra Nova.
Life here is far from normal. O2 levels are far higher than present day earth and that takes a little getting use to. Jim manages to smuggle Zoe with him in his backpack and upon reaching the settlement, both parents go and talk with Commander Nathaniel Taylor. Taylor explains how the wife is needed, she is a doctor and has some real use, but what use does he have?
Taylor soon finds a use for Shannon on his security team and tells Shannon about the “sixers”. A group from the 6th pilgrimage that decided to break off from Terra Nova and are attempting to steal power, food, medicine and more. Taylor doesnt know who sent them or why, but he wont allow them to undermine Terra Nova. The sixers make a visit to Terra Nova to exchange ore for some supplies and Taylor agrees to the swap, but not without a little gun play.
Josh, like most teenagers, doesnt listen to his father and decides to skip orientation to go OTG with a girl and a few other kids. Oh in case you didnt know OTG means “outside the gate”. We are 85 million years into the past, so dinosaurs are around! The kids go exploring and drinking some home made moon shine. Skye also shows Josh some interesting drawings on the rocks near the water falls and explains she doesnt know what they mean but she knows Taylor doesnt want everyone seeing it.
As the sixers leave the settlement they come across the kids vehicle and strip it of its power cells leaving the kids stranded. They find one of the sixers didnt get to far and they soon found out why. “Slashers” were around and they had to hide in the vehicle to avoid getting killed. Hide that couldnt be shot, and a tale that would rip the skin off you, the Slashers hunt in groups. Taylor and the others go looking for the kids and they make an attempt to flee to their vehicle. 3 of them are injured and almost eaten by the Slashers before Taylor and his men arrive to rescue the kids and take them back to base.
The episode ends with a view of the moon much larger then present day. But of course, we forgot! Its 85 million years in the past, the moon moves away about 1 cm every so often. 🙂
Terra Nova has done everything right in its first 2 hours. But lets start with the biggest:
1. CGI. Billed as one of the most expensive TV premiers are nearly 20 million dollars, many wonder if it was worth all the money spent. I would say it was. The CGI was nearly flawless and I would give it credit that the CGI was hollywood movie worthy. The advantage to this type of story is the CGI adds to the story and the environment, rather than taking away from it.
2. Theme: In recent memory we have not had a show that revolved around traveling 85 million years into the past and living among the dinosaurs due to the failure of the environment in 2149. This theme and story is unique to our current lineup of shows over the past 10 years and Fox offers a fresh and new viewpoint.
3. The little things: For all you geeks out there, the little things that make it so much better. Okay, the butterfly effect! “step on a butterfly in the past and maybe you would never have been born”. Its a sound principle if we could ever time travel, so if the Shannons are the 10th group to go to Terra Nova, why hasnt the other 9 groups caused changes in earths future, ripple effects. Ah, they have an answer. This is a different time stream, or parallel time stream. Small thing, but makes a story like this stronger.
4. The Sixers: What would a trip to the past be without a group who doesnt like the establishment. The sixers seem to think Terra Nova is bad and they went out on their own. Its apparent there is more to the story then Taylor leads on and this story arc will be interesting.
5. The Writings: The writings lead us to believe something is going on that both sides want to be kept quiet, but why? We learn at the end of the 2 hour episode that it was done by Taylors son, who is a scientist. Mira knows the true purpose for Terra Nova and its not what everyone thinks. So what is it really?
So much setup in just 2 hours, the series leaves nothing untouched to keep us pulled into the mystery and dynamics of Terra Nova, The Shannons, Mira and the Sixers.