The pattern of new television shows this season seems to be that none of them have a wow factor. They all fail to grip the audience in the way that successful shows in previous years have — whether this is from lack of creativity, follow-through or me just being picky, I am not sure. But every show that has had a built up hype has failed to become a show that I look forward to each week. Fox’s new drama, “Terra Nova,” is no different. Is it good? Yes. Is it great? No.
“Terra Nova” starts in the year 2149, in a world that is rapidly disintegrating. The air is so polluted that every person must wear a re-breather when stepping outdoors. The population has grown to such catastrophic numbers that a law has been put in place that every family is only allowed two children at most. The world looks gray and full of smog.
It’s a world that the audience is allowed to see for only 20 minutes before disappearing into the repopulation project of Terra Nova. That’s too bad, because the post-apocalyptic civilization looked like a fresh take on an old storyand one that I wouldn’t mind seeing more often.
Instead, we are transported back 85 million years to a time when dinosaurs walked the Earth. If you’re going to give the show credit for anything, it has spectacular production value. With scenes filmed on-location in Australia combined with movie-quality special effects, “Terra Nova” looks great. The dinosaurs lurking beyond the fence of the civilized compound are truly threatening, not just fake graphic art. When the velociraptors come racing towards your screen, you might just find yourself looking away.
But where the entire spectacle succeeds, the drama tends to bust.
colony, we learn about a group of rebel colonists known as the “sixers.”
The mythology of the growing civilization over generations is intriguing. Everyone else seems to know a hell of a lot more than the Shannons — who are the newbies — and their stories seem to be a little more interesting. I want to see the “sixers” departing from the camp led by their kick-ass leader Mira (Christine Adams).
I would have at least liked a flashback to Taylor’s arrival in Terra Nova by himself, fending for his life for 118 days before help arrived — even a quick montage would have done the job. Mostly, I want the history of Taylor and his runaway son, who now carves indecipherable images into the sides of waterfalls about the true plans for Terra Nova.
All of these are a part of a show that claims to be a “family drama.” It’s not, and it shouldn’t advertise itself as such. “Terra Nova” is following the wrong family, or at least it appears that way right now. There are many directions the show could take to allow the Shannons to become a more integrated and interesting part of the series. Right now the dinosaurs and mystery are keeping me along for the ride -— not the characters — except perhaps the elusive Commander Taylor.
“Terra Nova” airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.
Rosenberg is a member of the class of 2012.