Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Terra Nova

Terra Nova premiered tonight. This epic, 2-hour long premier was produced by Steven Spielberg and has obvious nods to his previous works. It features time travel, the future, a dystopia, a utopia, marines /military, and of course, dinosaurs. Makes sense right?

The first thing I considered about Terra Nova was whether the dinosaurs and time travel were going to be used as a distraction from the fact that the show has a weak premise, terrible story, and laughable acting. The beginning of the episode definitely had the first two, but the acting was passable. The story was predictable and for the most part unoriginal.  The show begins in the future with a family escaping their dying world. To do so, they must travel millions of years back in time, however they do not go back to an earlier Earth but rather an earlier parallel dimension Earth -Terra Nova. This family traveled with a large group of other people and are the tenth group to have done so, with their home Earth still inhabited by millions of other people hoping to escape as well. Once the family is brought back to the past they find the settlement that the previous time-traveling groups had built and discover that not only are there dinosaurs but that this utopia still has a lot of the problems they are familiar with from their own time line: war & politics.

The Shannon family, featured in Terra Nova.
Where this show is most weak is in the dynamics of the starring family. Case in point, when the father reunites with his family the children immediately feel estranged. The father had been in jail for about 2 years, meanwhile the family had to trudge forward. When learning that they could escape their Earth through the time travel project, the family immediately arranged for a way that the father could escape his imprisonment and Earth with them. Upon reuniting in their new homes on Terra Nova, the son runs away and defies his father; acting as a teenager typically does and irrationally lambasting his father for being away. The youngest daughter doesn't remember who his father is since he's been away for years and quickly vanishes from the house; only to be found shortly after with a big family hug. The older daughter is a geek who follows her parent's wishes, much like many other stereotypical daughters in big families on TV. Not too original of a family dynamic, but you add dinosaurs and it magically becomes different right?

Promotional poster provided at 2011 SDCC
As this 2-hour epic continues, the storyline gradually becomes more complex. A fair bit of story is told in this pilot episode but the pacing seemed slow for the first hour. The problem of pacing would likely not have been an issue if it had not been for the plethora of commercials. After becoming ever-so irritated with the commercials I began to time out how long each segment of the show was before another commercial break occurred. It turned out that each segment lasted an average of 10 minutes, and a few lasted for a whopping 4 minutes! This is ridiculous and is likely due to how damn expensive this show was to make. Fox had spent millions on the special effects (which were pretty darn good) and more millions on advertisement (I remember seeing posters & such at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con for this show). Due to the price tag, Fox charged a high price for each commercial spot and apparently made sure there were plenty of these spots. Without all the commercials, the show is actually about 1 hour and 26 minutes long!

All in all, I'll be back to see the second episode. I'm curious as to where the story will go and heck, the dinosaurs are a lot of fun to see. However, I don't know how long my interest will hold as this is not the best nor original sci-fi show I've ever seen, as recently canceled shows such as Stargate Universe and Caprica were much better.

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