Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NEW SHOW: Terra Nova

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I saw the first 54 minutes of the 85-minute SUPERLONG pilot at Comic-Con. I loved it. I thought it was great. I thought there was an intriguing story and I was left with a ton of questions. I also thought that maybe they tried to cover too much too quickly. Now that I've seen the remainder of the episode, I absolutely feel that way. I also wasn't a big fan of how much more was set-up... there's just going to be a lot going on for a show that has a short first season. That's my main gripe for now, anyway. I don't have a lot of in-line reactions, probably because the show was both so different (past, future, dinosaurs...) and so similar (teen boy rebelling against his father, the guy in charge has some secrets, the evil people are linked to the number 6...) that it's all a bit over/underwhelming.

Terra Nova "Genesis, Parts 1 & 2" (S01E01 & S01E02): It's the dawn of the 22nd century and the world is on the verge of environmental collapse. We're quickly introduced to the Shannon family: Jim's a cop, Elisabeth's a doctor, and they have three children: Josh, Maddy, and Zoe. Chicago. We know that life is very bad, mainly due to the environment. For instance, the youngest child has never had an orange or seen clouds before, and nobody has had a clear view of the moon in decades. There is thick smog that requires breathing masks outside, and there's a rule of two children per family. This causes the first problem on the show, as investigators arrive at the Shannon home to follow up on a possible violation (aka third child Zoe). While the family tries to hide the preschooler, it doesn't work and they're found out. Jim can't control his anger and he strikes an officer, landing him in Golad prison for several years. But, two years into his sentence, Elisabeth is recruited for the latest pilgrimage to Terra Nova. She pays off a guard to get five minutes to fill in Jim on the situation and to hand him a breathing mask (air in the prisons is unfiltered) that contains a laser, among possible other things.

We don't see how he does it, but Jim is able to get out of one maximum-security facility and into another (though it appears he hid under a moving vehicle to get in). He also removes a tracker from beneath his skin (looks quite painful!) and trades a lot of money for a backpack. He also somehow has a valid retina scan card, which is the ID used by everyone. He is stopped, however, when footage is seen of him in a secure area. He winds up having to make a run for the portal, but makes it through. Shortly after he lands, however, he's identified as a stowaway - and so is Zoe (who was hiding in a backpack). Zoe hardly remembers her father, but he tries his best throughout the episode to fix that.

Commander Taylor welcomes the new group to Terra Nova. We learn that he was the very first person to go through, seven years ago. (And, due to some sort of time glitch, he was alone for 118 days before others showed up.) Taylor is soon alerted to the Shannon family's issues, and he pulls Jim and Elisabeth aside. Elisabeth is a renown physician and will work as such in Terra Nova. While Taylor knows that Jim broke some rules, he's able to see past that and look at the usefulness of Jim... though he starts as an agricultural worker, he's promoted to security within a day. The family then goes to see their new home, which is new and quite spacious, though it wasn't built for five people, so Zoe and Maddy must share a room. [I wonder how rare it is to have a third child.... I mean, in Terra Nova it's probably the only instance. But what about in 2149?]

The next day is looking okay... Josh is upset about leaving behind Kara, his girlfriend. He also resents the fact that his father was absent from his life for a while, and he's not ready to start listening to him again. Plus, he doesn't care about history or literature, as evidenced by the fact that he didn't know about the Probe (it was used to find a time fracture) or that it'll be three days before they can eat real food (for now they're stuck with some sludgy smoothie of sorts). Rather than attending orientation, Josh decides to go off and explore on his own, which leads him to Skye, who is from the 5th pilgrimage. Skye lives with a bunch of other teenagers, which at first seems really cool... then we later learn that both of her parents died due to illness. [foreshadowing of illness returning?] The kids take Josh OTG (outside the gates) where they drive around in a rover (which may be a British vehicle - steering wheels appear on the right), walk on rocks near a river, jump off a cliff near a waterfall [absolutely GORGEOUS waterfalls!], and drink moonshine that they've been brewing from fruts (a fruit-nut combo). Skye does show Josh some markings that she found, but she's keeping them a secret and makes him promise to do the same.

The first day for Elisabeth is going fairly well, though she does need to adjust to an older set of medical practices... such as leeches. Then, she's held hostage by another patient, but that doesn't last long.

After Jim starts following his cop instincts, Taylor gives him the whole story of the issues they have, including the Sixers - a bunch of people from the sixth pilgrimage who broke off and started their own colony. (There are also other missing folks, including Taylor's son, who disappeared a few years ago.) Sixers often infiltrate for goods, and it was a Sixer who held Elisabeth hostage. They take equipment, weapons, medical supplies, and the like. Taylor is very concerned about what their goal is and who from the future sent them to Terra Nova. The fun and games don't last, however, and shots are soon fired as other rovers approach. Then, they must avoid some carnivorous dinosaurs, and viewers see our first fatality via dino. When they reach the gates, it seems that Mira, a Sixer, wants the guy in the brig (later identified as Carter), some ammo, and some medical supplies. Taylor agrees to Carter and the medical supplies, and in return Mira gives them some meteoric iron.

Meanwhile, some Sixers find the kids' rover and pull the power. There's a carnivore around, though, so everyone begins to panic. They end up getting into the Sixers' rover with Drake, a young Sixer who knows Skye. Some security footage shows that the kids are OTG, and Jim goes with Taylor and some others to search for the kids. Elizabeth tries to go, and since there's no time for squabbles, Taylor lets her, and they roll out into the night. The kids are able to establish radio contact with the search party, but while they're waiting to be found, Tasha, the daughter of a security guy, runs out of the car, scared. The search party finds a wounded Tasha. [at this point, I feel like the episode is starting to drag.] The kids are getting ready to make a break for another vehicle when another dinosaur shows up. [do these kids have really bad aim or do the bullets do nothing to the dinos?] The kids are just about surrounded when the search party arrives.

Sky goes to apologize to Taylor and tells him that they were drinking. She says they weren't near the waterfalls though, and he says that those are treacherous waters... We also see that the Sixers look at the same markings... which Taylor wants to keep them hidden - they're drawn by his son and are the key to everything, supposedly.  
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1 comment:

Pumanole said...

Oh my gosh! I can't believe how much I didn't like this show!! I figured that dinosaurs + time travel + Spielberg = FTW, but I was so wrong.

First, I hate how the family I am supposed to care about is degenerate. If you live in a world that is falling apart due to overpopulation, why do you have 3 kids anyway? Seriously!? I don't think the world was unreasonable. It's not like it had forced mating pairs or something. You had two kids, that's all you get. Geez.

Second, I agree with all of the paleontologists (sp?) out there. With so many cool dinos out there, why make something up? I hate the "slasher" dinos. It felt like I was watching Land of the Lost on Nick. I liked it as a kid, but now I'm over it.

Third, sooooo many cliches. The leader guy knows something, but is hiding it. One group has strayed and formed their own group. Father/son problems. Mother/father problems. Little girl gets lost repeatedly. Etc. So lame. So .... lame.

Fourth, I hate fake time travel. Call me a jerk, but going back in time is not like switching dimensions. If they had said the meteor that wiped everything out caused their existence to erase or something allowing humans to evolve, I'm all for it. Otherwise, Back to the Future is your guide to time travel. Leave it alone.

All that plus bad acting, sub par CG, poor blue screening, and Lost-like plot lines (like that writing on the rocks by the son of the leader guy) leave me feelings sick. I honestly have no intentions of watching this again.