Time travel and dinosaurs are the hook to get you into “Terra Nova.” But the humans in the show are pretty important in terms of whether you come back for more.
So after the series premiere, are the human stories enough to carry you to next week?
The idea of Terra Nova that’s sold to the pilgrims is that it’s a place where humanity can take a second shot at building a sustainable civilization. It’s a kind of Utopia, albeit one with a lot of dangerous creatures outside the perimeter fence. But there’s a reason Utopian societies tend not to endure.
“Once the Shannon family gets there you realize, and it doesn’t take too long, you scratch the surface and you realize that there is something else going on here,” star Jason O’Mara said on a conference call with reporters last week. “There are splinter factions, people challenging Taylor’s [Stephen Lang] rule over the place. You also find out that there are people close to Taylor who have become estranged and might even be plotting against him and his sort of rule, for want of a better word, as commander over Terra Nova.
“By the way, you know, who put him in charge? Was he ever elected?” O’Mara adds. “All these questions are asked. So the Shannon family are caught up in all of this and they become the audience’s eyes and ears and they get involved in a first-hand way directly in the intrigue that’s taking place, politically and socially.”
That, anyway, is what the people making the show are hoping. The premiere did a decent job at setting up some of these ideas, while also delivering a fairly healthy dose of action, particularly in its final, dinosaur-brawl half-hour.
Otherwise? The show suffered from a heavier dose than usual of Pilot Expository Disease, which is not unexpected when a show has to set up a world as far removed from our own as this one is. We’re hoping that fades into the background as we get more familiar with the world and those who live there. The dynamic among the Shannon family is pretty strong, if stressed, and petulant teenage son Josh (Landon Liboiron) actually got a little less annoying by the end of the episode, which we didn’t think was possible at the halfway mark. We’re also intrigued by the wary relationship between Jim and Taylor.
How did the mix of sci-fi, family drama and dinosaurs work for you? Will you stay with “Terra Nova”?