Terra Nova Episode 1 Review: T-Wreck

TERRA NOVA: Monday 3rd October, SKY1, 8pm

This show is about as good as a Vauxhall Nova. No matter how good you make it look by spending lots of money on repainting and neon lights, nothing’s ever going to stop it from having only four gears and a top speed of three miles an hour downhill. The production costs for Terra Nova are absolutely insane! And at two-hundred thousand dollars a minute, whoever splashed out on the funding made a terra-ble decision. Can you imagine paying two-hundred thousand dollars to drive a Vauxhall Nova for sixty seconds? You’d practically die of shame.

Maybe I’m being a little bit harsh. The show isn’t necessarily bad; it’s not a car crash or a tyrannosaurus wreck or anything like that, but I find it incredibly hard to justify spending so much money on special effect sci-fi worlds and realistic dinosaurs when the weaknesses could be solved with some old school imagination. If the writers had delved half a millimetre deeper into the emotional cores of these characters and actually written some convincing dialogue then this could have been brilliant.

I think Terra Nova’s master-plan was to blind us with incredible CGI and SFX in the hope we wouldn’t glimpse the shoddy scaffolding of a script – like middle-aged bald men who clean, wax and buff up their cars to shield the horrible messes of their marriages. [Especially if their cars are Vauxhall Novas]. And seeing as Steven Spielberg is so closely connected to this project, I’m going to lay some of the blame at his door. Does he think we’re blind?! “Quick” says Steven, “hide the shoddy writing with a bloody dinosaur. Doyouthinktheysaurus?”

The only strong parts of this two-hour pilot episode are the action scenes and the beginning. The story commences in 2149 in a world that is on the verge of environmental collapse. We meet the Shannon family who are soon torn apart due to the strict population controls which only allow two children per family. The Shannon’s have three. Daddy punches a cop and gets landed in jail for six years. Two years later, Daddy breaks out and the whole family jump through a one-way wormhole 85,000,000 years into an alternate past. It’s basically an extreme version of Escape To The Country. Ha.

Terra Nova has been compared to many other projects. Jurassic Park is a rather obvious parallel, but it doesn’t quite convey the same wonderment and fear when seeing the incredible dinosaurs for the very first time. It is also strangely similar to Outcasts, which aired on the BBC earlier this year with disasterous consequences – in fact it’s almost a clone if we ignore the whole 85 million year time-jump to an alternate time stream. Stargate’s another one. And of course, any show with a complex plot, flashbacks, or a jungle is bound it be compared to Lost – but the simple fact is that nothing has even come close to reaching the high echelons of greatness that Lost achieved.

To summarise; if you’re a fan of awesome special effects and can stomach weak dialogue and an emotional apex of boring daddy issues which are boringly resolved as the boring son boringly realises that he is exactly the same as his boring father, then knock yourself out. Like I said, it’s not bad, but it could be a lot better. Terra Nova is Portuguese for ‘new land’, but in terms of pushing the boundaries of televisual experience, this show brings us nothing new whatsoever.