Terra Nova - The temporal cold war comes to Jurassic Park

Bean

The Awesome One
Jan 1, 1970
5,243
3
0
39
Canada eh!
cheese.com
#1
So I had to watch this, if for no other reason than the fact that Spielberg is attached to a show about dinosaurs and humans from a dystopian world.

It was all rather "meh" but there were some good points.

The opening of the episode was a great moment. Zooming over the surface of the moon to reveal a brown, polluted and dying Earth was pretty effective in conveying how bad things have gotten. The city shots were just icing on the cake.

The whole setup to get the characters through the time portal (or whatever it was) into the past could have been dragged out a lot longer than it was, but instead the writers pushed us through that bit of exposition as fast as they could, but it was still effective. They held us in the future just long enough to give us a real view of how desperate humanity has become, and set us up to gradually realize later on how important Terra Nova is for us as a species.

Then.. everything started to go downhill. Despite Spielberg being attached, this series is of obvious TV production quality ala 4400 or Eureka as opposed to taking a grittier approach like Lost. The CGI is painfully awkward in places and that only leaves me worried that once the episodes are being produced at regular season prices as opposed to a pilot budget, it can only get worse. (To be fair there were some good FX sequences in places)

The story.. well, I guess it's fair to say that like any pilot trying to establish an overreaching arc, there are a lot of blank spots for pretty hefty questions. In most cases I can tolerate these and even look forward to slowly finding the answers. Bragas track record speaks for itself however. The man can't do arc writing. He asks a question without having a clear answer in mind, or even a vague one and it comes across plainly in his writing. On Lost (at least the first season or two) when they presented us with a question or mystery, it was exciting, because it was done in a way that led us to believe (accurately or not) that the writers already knew the answer to the question, and were just walking us through the steps to get to it ourselves. With Braga, it's obvious that he has no idea where he's going with it, and that makes the set ups for future arcs boring.

The characters are a mixed bag. The two leads of Shannon and Taylor have a mutual respect/distrust for each other that reads like a cheap soap opera, but somehow it works perfectly. I would go so far as to say it's the best character dynamics I saw in the entire pilot.

The Shannon kids on the other hand are beyond awful.. His older daughter is a cuter more assertive Wesley Crusher, but almost as cliche. His youngest daughter is so "cutesy wootsey" that I wanted to gag, yet somehow I couldn't help but enjoy her scenes.

Then we get to TVs newest teen stereotype. Shannons teenage son. I can't even begin to describe how awful this character is. Just bad bad bad. He's obviously been shoehorned into the forefront of the story as a way to attract younger viewers (Seriously, someone tell Braga that teenagers don't actually act this way), and to add Bragas trademarked "sensuality" (He actually managed to get a bikini scene in there). He's nothing short of a totally useless character.

Overall the episode wouldn't be as bad on it's own merits given the hope that some of the questions being asked and plot lines being started would be addressed competently in future episodes, however Brags reputation speaks totally against this. When I say that he took the TCW to Jurassic Park I'm not trying to be funny.. that's really what it seems like.

And I know that there were other writers involved, but Bragas fingerprints are way too obvious to miss. The man doesn't seem capable of an original idea and just keeps rehashing his previous works in new combinations, the title itself is an obvious sign of that fact.

I'll probably watch another episode just to give it a fair shot, but overall, this series seems like it'll be joining previous Braga outings in the trash heap none too shortly.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#2
This pilot also sat around for a long time, too. They kept pushing it back and pushing it back, which is rarely a good sign. Plus, there was a lot of behind-the-scenes shuffling of writers and producers, too.
 

Tupperfan

Forgot to bring booze...
Sep 16, 2009
240
1
0
The bush, Canada
#3
I like it enough as a light sci-fi/adventure thing. There's potential and it seems that for once, there is a possible plan to set things up a little more than Braga used us too, but we'll see how that goes.

That said, I agree that Braga rehashes his same favourite old themes again. Hell, while searching for the show online, I found out that a 24 character was even named Terranova. I wonder if he was created during Braga's tenure as show-runner...

And we'll see if the show actually survives...
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#10
Well I watched the pilot. Decent enough; a couple cool action sequences, but you're right - the kid is lame. The show's mythology seems like it has potential, though. Now, I question why there's so much conflict going on - establishing a colony 85 million years in the past, I suspect that the people sent through will be very carefully chosen and heavily vetted. When Shannon just up and announces that he wants "a badge and a gun", it rings really hollow since he'd have no idea that Terra Nova does actually have security problems that would require a police force. The existence of the "Sixers" follows this same sort of wonky logic, but the show side-steps it by hinting that this other faction was seeded on purpose. Really, though, it just feels like they want to be "LOST"s "others".

The dinosaur effects are fine for TV, even quite good at times, but aren't as impressive as the work done on the original 'Jurassic Park' flick... but they're still obviously TV-level effects. This is an absurdly expensive production. If it can't maintain decent numbers, I think it's a sure bet Fox will axe it at their earliest convenience.
 

Tupperfan

Forgot to bring booze...
Sep 16, 2009
240
1
0
The bush, Canada
#11
They removed the teenage angst from the second episode. Even if it was clearly inspired by Hitchcock's "birds", I felt like the family dynamic was pretty decent. At this time, this show can still go either way, but I'm entertained, so I'll give it a chance.

That said, I wish "Outcasts" would have had a better start, as it desserved another season...