May 23, 2017

“Terra Nova” – Consider it “a contender”

By Adam Frazier FOX’s newest exercise in genre television, ‘Terra Nova,’ starts in the year 2149 when all life on Earth is threatened by global environmental collapse and overpopulation. In Futuristic Chicago, scientists discover a rift in the space-time continuum that allows humans to travel 85 million years back in time to the late Cretaceous period.

Now before you start worrying about Chaos Theory (or Ashton Kutcher in “The Butterfly Effect”), the time travel device used in ‘Terra Nova’ introduces a completely new time stream – an alternate reality that offers a chance to save humanity.

The Shannon family (father Jim, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children) join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first human colony on the other side of the Stargate-esque doorway, where daily tasks include farming and protecting their settlement from dinosaur attacks.

If you’re on the fence about watching ‘Terra Nova,’ it’s ‘Lost’ meets “Jurassic Park” meets ‘Land of the Lost’ meets ‘Earth 2’ meets ‘Stargate’ meets… oh, you get the picture. Much like TNT’s ‘Falling Skies’ and AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Terra Nova” is television’s attempt to cash in on the recent resurgence of genre storytelling.

We’ve all been looking for a replacement for ‘Lost,’ and ‘Terra Nova’ shows enough promise to consider it a contender. The special effects (while impressive for television) aren’t altogether believable — the dinosaurs look like they’ve escaped from a Playstation game (“Dino Crisis,” anyone?) and so much of the show is obviously green-screened that it almost feels like a “Star Wars” prequel with better acting.

All in all, I hope ‘Terra Nova’ gets a full season to fully explore some of the ideas presented in the two-hour premiere. Keep an eye out for the “Aliens” reference: “They mostly come at night… mostly” — if anything, this show knows who its audience is, which is a great sign.

It’s odd to consider FOX’s willingness to televise a series where the story centers on global warming and dinosaurs — considering most of their viewers are hardcore right-wing fundamentalist Christians who refuse to believe either are real — but hey, it’s fiction right?
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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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