Terra Nova: Nothing “Nova” About It

I’d seen the previews for Terra Nova on Fox months before it actually appeared.  Cleverly, their marketing people had positioned this as Jurassic Park meets Lost.

But for me, the actual show did not live up to the hype. The setup was kind of interesting, if not a little politically correct: a home planet we had ruined, 150 years in the future, by overpopulation and pollution, where signs on the street flashed with directions on how to breathe, where children were only allowed two to a family and had never seen clouds or the moon except in picture books.

Then, after some heavy-handed drama that went on too long, we follow our main characters, the Shannon family, as they enter Terra Nova. This is a new, old world originally found, or so goes the tale, through a crack in the space-time continuum. Terra Nova has dinosaurs, big, scary insects, and it’s run by the rather pompous, arrogant Nathaniel Taylor, played by Stephen Lang from Avatar. His character reminded me of a cross between J. Peterman from Seinfeld and “The Most Interesting Man in the World” from the Dos Equis beer commercials. Every time he appeared on screen I kept hearing, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

In short, the dialogue was ponderous, the characters and situations clichéd, the plot predictable. One of the few moments that hinted at something freakish about Terra Nova, discovered by a band of teenagers who (surprise) took a road trip beyond the colony’s gates and got into trouble, was wasted by having several characters continually point it out. We get it. It’s weird. Stop telling me it’s weird. Have they ever heard of dramatic tension? Seeding a few clues here and there, and leaving it to the viewer to wonder, and keep tuning in?

Sorry. I’m tuning out. I’d rather watch Jurassic Park again.