Jim Shannon - Jason O'Mara
Taylor - Stephen Lang
Elisabeth Shannon - Shelley Conn
Josh Shannon - Landon Liboiron
Maddy Shannon - Naomi Scott
Zoe Shannon - Alana Mansour
Skye - Allison Miller
Mira - Christine Adams
OTHER DINOSAUR SHOWS
The Lost World
GENESIS - Part One
The world is dying. The atmosphere is unbreathable, there is no space, no resources, no future. Even children are limited to two per family, so when the Shannons are discovered to have one extra child, he lashes out and gets two years in prison. Now his family are going back in time to start again in a new world. It's time to make a break for it.
Stephen Spielberg's dinosaur epic finally comes to the television screen and there aren't that many of the critters around, but that's not a problem since there is more than enough going on to make up for that. Firstly, there is the depiction of a dying planet, humanity struggling to survive. It's convincing enough given the relatively short time that there is to establish it before the story gets really going.
The real story here is the hijacking of the time trip rather than the jailbreak, since that is accomplished off screen. It's pretty exciting, though not necessarily believable.
Once back in the past there's the introduction to the local neighbours, a bit of fish out of water stuff and a cliffhanger that really isn't much of one.
This, though, is the origin story and so has to deal with a lot of exposition. It is aided immensely by a very likeable cast with Jason O'Mara (the US version of LIFE ON MARS) and Stephen Lang (AVATAR) in the lead. The supporting cast are all likeable enough and at least give the impression of a family.
There are hints of a mystery to be solved and whilst it has some considerable similarities, TERRA NOVA managed to be more entertaining in one episode than OUTCASTS managed in eight.Top
GENESIS - Part 2
A group of youths are out in the jungle at night, cut off by dinosaurs with razor tails and soon to be lizard food. Jim, now part of the security detail, heads out with Lang to get them back.
A little piece more of the background plot falls into place as the Sixers are introduced. Part of the sixth batch of arrivals, they think differently and have taken up a different way of life, mainly causing problems for Terra Nova. The similarities between this set up and OUTCASTS is remarkable.
TERRA NOVA, though, has dinosaurs and isn't afraid to use them. the slasher tails aren't seen all that much because of the night-time setting, but they are impressive enough to be getting along with. The seige storyline they create is exciting and fast.
The grizzled military leader with a sort-of-adopted kid, though is straight out of FALLING SKIES.Top
INSTINCT - Part 2
Some flying dinosaurs are interrupting Shannon's attempts to get it back on with his wife for the first time in years. When they start attacking people and turn up in their millions, things start to go beyond Jim's love life.
TERRA NOVA does Alfred Hitchcock's THE BIRDS, using the safety wall as a replacement for a schoolyard playframe. The rest of the plot isn't that much more original, but it's carried off with brio and energy and CGI flying dinosaurs enough for you not to mind about the tedious love triangle or the kids' romantic fumblings.Top
A remote outpost fails to answer and the rescue team are infected by a virus that wipes out their memory and takes them back to an earlier time in their lives. Elisabeth has just been infected and Lang is on the warpath.
The threat here is a virus and so there are more scenes that revolve around tech talk in a laboratory. Dinosaurs do appear, but they are something of a last minute additon put in when someone remembered that this was supposed to be a dinosaur show.
The human drama is too predictable to really impress, though it is all very watchable and doesn't strain the brain for even a moment.Top
A young girl is found near Terra Nova, apparently on the run from the Sixers. When it becomes clear that the Sixers know that she is there and she steals a secret box, questions are asked as to whether she is all she claims to be.
This episode rattles by without leaving too much imprint on the memory since there is very little of any importance. The aim of the leader of the Sixers becomes clear, but the rest is straightforward and not all that interesting, especially since there is only a single dinosaur appearance in the whole thing.
As for Maddy's apprenticeship in the infirmary and her lovelife, well that's trite beyond words.Top
A soldier falls foul of a dinosaur, but Jim believes that he was set up, which makes it murder. The culprit confesses and is banished, but Jim's not so sure that he's guilty.
A standard police procedural that has a painfully simple murder mystery that isn't much enlivened by the murder weapon being a dinosaur. The debate over what punishments are appropriate in this new world has some merits, but not enough to make it worthwhile. The subplot of Jim's son being drawn into darkness to get his girlfriend back from the future is being painfully drawn out.Top
A meteor explodes in midair and sends out a pulse that wipes out all of Terra Nova's microchips. Jim and his youngest daughter are locked in a basement, Maddy and her boyfriend are stranded in the wild, the infirmary can't save its patients and the Sixers are coming and bringing a huge dinosaur with them.
It seems somewhat foolish to go back in time and build a society as dependent on technology as the one that was left behind for having destroyed the planet, but that's at the core of this episode. It's fairly relevant because how a technologically dependant humanity would survive now without computers is a scary, scary question.
For once there's also a scary, scary dinosaur that actually has a point to it and that at least makes up for the dull and foolish story about Jim singing songs about spiders to help his daughter get them both free.Top
Maddy meets a pioneering hero of hers and finds not only that he is not as she might have expected but also that he might not be who he claims to be. Meanwhile, Mira calls in her favour of Josh and Taylor goes after an exiled murderer to find otu the Sixers' location.
When a cop's daughter uncovers a crime and her first thought isn't 'I must tell Dad' then you know that the writers are manipulating characters to fit the plot and that makes it much harder to believe and follow. It's also almost completely interest free until the murderer realised that she knows and goes after her.
The story of Taylor and the murderer in the jungle is also stretched beyond its limit.Top
The Sixers secret communications system is revealed, but so is the body of a dead man, a body that points to Commander Taylor as being a murderer.
A giant, and not always convincing, dragonfly is the dinosaur of the week and it doesn't do a whole heck of a lot in a story that throws out of lot of backstory in a single scene of exposition from Taylor. The rest of the episode is all set up for that one, deeply unconvincing, flashback.
On top of all that, there's the small matter of the heavy-handed symbolism of the celebration of Taylor's service.Top
NOW YOU SEE ME
Taylor and Sixer leader Mira have to join forces against a common threat whilst Shannon gets a bit closer to discovering Terra Nova's spy.
Mortal enemies banding together against an outside threat and learning a bit more about each other along the way. It's a tired old storyline, but the threat being a couple of angry dinosaurs gives it a bit of pep.
It's certainly a better storyline than the search for the spy, who has now been revealed to the audience, along with the reason for their betrayals. Considering that there is a single piece of evidence that will reveal the traitor after the computer testing is completed it is ridiculous to believe that it would simply be left unguarded.Top
The spy in the camp is unmasked, but comes with dire warnings. Taylor's son has completed his work and can make the time portal go both ways. The plundering of Terra Nova can begin.
Since we already know who the spy is, the attempts to identify and track her down are less than dramatic. At least, however, they are not as hugely time wasting as the ridiculous side story of Shannon's daughter trying to get some rare technology for her computer, a story that has no point and just fizzles away to nothing.
The face-off between Taylor and his son makes no sense. Considering that they have access to non-lethal weapons a shoot first and act later policy would have made more sense than the supposedly dramatic conversation. Taylor even makes what is now becoming a traditional end of episode rousing speech.
As for dinosaurs - they make a couple of short appearances that barely count as set dressing.Top
The future company behind the Sixers makes its move and Jim wakes up to find that the colony has been overrun by mercenaries. Aiding the resistance, he finds that there are some things that cannot be kept under control.
This is the strongest episode since the pilot, having a close focus around the fate of the colony. The nascent resistance story is simplistic and lacking in real tension, but Taylor's son Lucas really takes some depth and a definitive creepy factor that makes him a better villain.
This is the set up for the final episode, but the cliffhanger isn't the strongest and it just sort of ends, but the scene with Jim Shannon recovering from the effects of an explosion is amongst the bravest moves in the show.Top
Jim is being tortured by Lucas and the reinforcements are about to arrive, but the residents of Terra Nova have a plan to get there world back.
TERRA NOVA goes out on a high with a fine finale that ties up a lot of storylines whilst still leaving the way open for a second season that will not come. The resistance plan is clever and we get a significant bit of dinosaur action as part of it.
The plot is tight, the characters have developed more in the last two episodes than at any time before, the action is slick and fast and explosive, there is a shocking moment involving Lucas and a resistance soldier and there is the very real sense that if the rest of the show had been as good as the two part finale then a second season would have been a shoo in.
TERRA NOVA never got to fulfil its potential, but this episode and the preceding one give an idea of what the show could have become.Top
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