Terra Nova

FOX swung for the fences with the pilot episode of its new mega-drama, Terra Nova, reportedly doubling the $10 million ABC poured into Lost’s epic premier.  It’s too soon to tell if the show clears the fence or falls short with warning track power.

Terra Nova is a human colony in dinosaur times, set up after humans in 2149 find a one-way road back in time. The main characters are a family of five sent to the colony because it needed a doctor, which mom just happens to be. It also needed a cop, which makes it doubly fortunate that the husband escaped prison to go back in time with them.

The family dynamic is nothing special, and frankly it’s better left undiscussed.

Thus far, all but the first few segments of the series take place inside the colony’s barriers.  Even now, typing this review, I nearly typed “on the island” because there is a very island feel to Terra Nova’s setting. Recall the beginning of Lost, the island was an expansive unknown. We would later come to learn of Dharma stations, colonies and even a temple, but in the beginning all we knew was the comfortable beach and cave camps. Because of that, the writers were able to set up anything that took place outside those places to be mysterious, possibly dangerous adventures.

The colony is treated the same way. We are comfortable inside its walls with their markets and hospitals and modular homes. But outside there are dinosaurs. And Others, or “Sixers,” Terra Nova speak for the band of outlaws that lives outside the colony.

But are they really outlaws? The pilot dropped enough on us to show that there is more layers to Terra Nova’s onion. The island (honest to God, I did it again) has a commander, and that commander has a son who we learn is, well, we don’t really learn anything about him other than he has some chalk and wrote a lot of stuff on some rocks. Stuff about the real reason Terra Nova was created. Stuff we, as of yet, don’t know.

Again, this is a lot like what Lost gave us. We learned in season one there was something underground and some other people on the island, and probably there was a lot of history to be told. If Terra Nova’s creators have the same sweeping storyline in mind, we could be in for something exceptional.

Or we could be in for a dud. It’s too soon to tell. Some parts of Terra Nova aren’t up to par. The characters at times are too cliched: a teenage son angry at his father for going to prison, a saucy girl his age to tempt him away from the girl he left behind, a commander who is conveniently militaristic. You could have said the same about Lost in its early days. If Terra Nova can bring its characters and its story along well enough, it could last. If not, it will spiral downward and off our screens. Fast.

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