Terra Nova – TV’s Next Big Hit
Quality epic TV shows are hard to come by. Of all the TV that produced in recent years, there have been only a handful of shows that, to me, really stand out as being both epic in scale AND well done. Among these are LOST, Battlestar Galactica, the new front-runner Game of Thrones, and of course The Wire. However, there are countless shows that attempt to be epic and end up falling flat on their faces. I’m looking at you, Heroes.
With the pilot debuting this coming Monday, we don’t have to wait long to to find out which category Fox’s highly hyped-up Terra Nova will fall into. I think this one has a lot going for it.
So what’s it about? All we have to go on for this new show are what we can find on the interwebs and a few short preview videos, so most of my article is pure speculation. I’m going to look at five different aspects of the show, and based on what little information we know, try to persuade you that Terra Nova is going to be the show that everyone is talking about. But first, whet your palette with this video previewing the pilot.
1) Premise – The premise of Terra Nova seems to be a beautiful conglomeration of Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and LOST. It begins in the year 2149, where humanity finds itself (and life on Earth as a whole) teetering on the verge of extinction. I’m not sure we’ll be facing extinction as a species in a hundred and fifty years, but the scenario is plausible and quite intriguing to boot. What is a dwindling Earth going to look like? I am excited, and that’s not even where the main story lies.
With the development of time machines, humans are able to ship people back in time to different ‘colonies’ that have been set up in prehistoric times – 85 million years ago. Not only do these colonies have to struggle to set up their new communities (navigating uncharted areas, and simply cohabiting with other members of the community), they also have to deal with – yeah, you’ve seen the previews – Dinosaurs. When the colony (called Terra Nova) that the Shannon family, the protagonists, call home fractures into two rival groups, tensions are bound to rise and survival becomes an even more challenging endeavor. In a perfect world, the characters themselves will dominate this show. Intense internal relationships and character development should be the focus, rather than scene after scene of Dinosaurs ransacking the community. All things considered, the premise is layered, intricate, and enticing – we’ll see if the creators get it right.
2) Cast – Most of these faces are new. In a show like this, I tend to think this is a good thing. With long episodes and long seasons, there is a plethora of time to develop the characters. If the actors are already well known, it’s more difficult to separate what they’ve done before from their complicated and intricate roles. This is one of many reasons, in my opinion, why viewers became so attached to the characters in LOST. So here is a glimpse at just a few of the actors that we can expect to see on Monday:
Steven Lang – Playing the leader of Terra Nova Commander Nathanial Taylor. He is our most familiar face of the bunch – you probably recognize him (sans the face scars) from Avatar, where he played the brutally intense antagonist Col. Miles Quaritch. With the leadership and organization of Terra Nova (which he founded himself), we can expect that the stress and danger of such a position has formed him into a hard, rough around the edges tough guy.
Jason O’Mara – O’Mara takes the the title role as Jim Shannon – father, husband, and former police officer. O’Mara has made small TV appearances in shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Band of Brothers, but will be a new face for the majority of viewers.
Shelly Conn – English actress Shelly Conn will play as Jim’s wife, Elisabeth Shannon. With what would appear to be a successful career as a surgeon, her decision to start a new life in Terra Nova has to do with her devotion to her family. With an assorted spattering of small time roles, Conn is also a new face for most viewers.
Christine Adams – Adams will make her first major role debut as Mira, the strong-willed leader of the renegades. She has no love for Taylor or his leadership, and the opposition of her splinter colony provide yet another obstacle for any new members joining the Terra Nova commune.
3) Steven Spielberg – As soon as I saw that Spielberg was producing this show, most of my qualms were quelled, and my excitement intensified. Not only is Spielberg arguably the biggest name in television production, but he also sat at the helm of Jurassic Park. With the raging CGI success of that dinosaur film, I have no fear that the effects in this are going to be nothing to spit at. Spielberg, while known for epic action movies such as Saving Private Ryan and Raiders of the Lost Arc is also no stranger to character development and intensely human scenes – just remember that Schindlers List was his baby as well. With a resume longer than Pinocchio’s nose (that lying little jerk!), Spielberg’s presence as EP can pretty much assure that this show is going to rock.
4) Dinosaurs – While we may no longer sit on the floor in our jammies while conducting an epic battle between a rubber T-Rex and a Stegosaurus, I don’t think that our fascination with the ginormous prehistoric lizards ever really goes away. Who doesn’t love walking through a museum and standing in awe under the towering fossils of a building sized carnivore? Or sneaking up behind a friend and making the Velociraptor noise right in their ear? Yeah, that never really gets old. Terra Nova is claiming that their dinosaurs are going to be different than the common dinosaurs we all know – dinosaurs from a different era. Wait, NEW dinosaurs we have never seen before!? Yeah, I’m excited.
5) Fox – I know what you are thinking. Having the show on Fox is much more of a con than it is a pro. Believe me, I hear you. Like you, I was furious at the way they handled Firefly, was crushed that they canceled Arrested Development, and have generally had very little patience for Idol. BUT, while they have screwed up in the past, they have absolutely produced some amazing television – let’s not forget that they are also behind 24, House, Fringe, The Simpsons, and Dollhouse. Is there a chance that they will screw this up? Yes. Is there also a chance that this is going to be one of Fox’s greatest? Yes.
Tune in next week for a review of the pilot, which airs Monday, September 26th at 8pm Eastern time – and let’s hope that all of our hype is worth it. We’re counting on you, Spielberg. Please don’t pull an Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on us here.