Terra No(va) Thanks

Posted: 10/14/2011 in television
Tags: , , , ,

It’s never a good sign when I forgot to set the DVR for a show – surely a strong indication that I can live without it because the story/characters aren’t compelling enough to register as a blip on my short-term memory. Yeah, yeah I know there is a nifty little thing called a Season Pass so I don’t have to remember to set the DVR every week but for new shows where I am only testing them out I don’t like to rush into the such a deep commitment. On Monday night I was sure there was something I was forgetting, and it was only when I turned on the TV for House to discover that some sporting event had delayed the scheduling so that Terra Nova had only just started.

Ah yes Terra Nova. Only on the third episode and already forgetting all about you. I rather liked the pilot despite there being way too much focus on the teenagers (I mean this is airing on Fox not the CW).  It starts in 2149 where the Earth is so inhospitable (think a blend of Blade Runner and Total Recall where apartments are furnished by Muji) that the powers that be have found a way to send people back to the prehistoric period – but hey won’t that screw up the timeline? No, they’ve thought of that and it’s a Jurassic parallel universe. Aren’t they clever!

The focus is on the Shannon family, and their adventures through the wormhole slash Stargate slash whatever. The wife is meant to be some shit-hot doctor which is why the family was recruited for the colony but herein lies one of my main issues. The wife (Dr. Elizabeth Shannon played by British actress Shelley Conn) looks like she is in her early 30s so how the frak is she the mother to two annoying teenagers (circa 16 years old and 14 years old) and managed to finish medical school and whatever residency programs where need to make her such a shit-hot property? (This is why I like The Good Wife; Julianna Margulies’ character Alicia looks and plays old enough to have two teenage children plus she had a career break to raise them.)

So it feels like the teenagers (and their subsequent dippy plot lines) have been shoe-horned in to make the show appeal to a younger demographic (yet they didn’t want to cast age appropriate parents), but there is hope that they will all get eaten by dinosaurs. The patriarch of the family is Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara) an ex-cop who was sent to prison because he and Elizabeth decided to have an illegal third child (this one a believable 5 year old). So before the family is even sent back in time Jim has to break out of prison, rescue the third child (who was being left behind because of the evil government forces) and then crash the transport. This part of the pilot was all very entertaining. Sadly, once they start their new life in oh so perfect Terra Nova it starts to get predictable (or maybe I am just bitter about them getting a high-tech house and a beige Muji wardrobe).

All the residents are happily working together under the military dictatorship of Commander Taylor. It’s like an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the away team beam down to discover colonist who are happy working in the fields in their stylish Muji clothing, and there is a bustling market.  It’s all too perfect apart from the dinosaur attacks, the group of colonist that have broken off to live separately and the mysterious messages at the waterfall.

As much as I like Shelley Conn and Jason O’Mara (and it’s nice to have a mixed race couple on TV) I don’t really care what happens to them or their brood. Too much focus on moody teenagers and the mythology of the show hasn’t been established quick enough. The second and third episodes were typical dinosaur of the week episodes, and it would have been better if they had been darker and introduced us into the world of the break away colonists and any conspiracy theories about the true mission of the colony.

So there you go. No season pass for Terra Nova.

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