TERRA NOVA “Genesis” Review

TERRA NOVA “Genesis” Season 1 Episode 1 – FOX’s biggest new show this fall, the Steven Spielberg produced Terra Nova, is finally upon us. The marketing team at FOX would have you believe it’s the single largest television event in the history of the medium. However, with a per-episode budget reported at four million dollars, can it possibly live up to the hype? Or does this dino show crumble under the weight of its own lofty expectations? Read on to find out.

The pilot episode, appropriately titled “Genesis”, certainly starts off in a suitably epic manner. The depiction of 22nd century earth was pretty impressive by TV standards, although wasn’t anything special artistically. It seemed like a very boilerplate representation of a planet Earth that has gone to hell, and lacked any real unique interpretation as we’ve seen in films like Blade Runner or Minority Report.

Jason O’Mara plays Jim Shannon, a police officer who broke the government’s strict population control rules by having and hiding a third child. He goes to jail for breaking this rule and resisting arrest, but is broken out in time to stow away on his family’s one-way trip to Terra Nova.

Terra Nova is, apparently, a place that is stuck 85 million years in the past. Conveniently, mankind has found a one-way wormhole to this magical place and is being taken there to start a new life. Obviously, this is a sci-fi show and we have to just accept that this works. Whatever, I can do that. What I can’t do is ignore the blatant rip-off of countless other sci-fi properties. Stargate and LOST are two of the first TV shows that come to mind, but the one that most people are going to be pointing fingers at is AVATAR. You’ve got your handsome foreign lead actor being taken to a beautiful alien world that’s home to rare minerals and a potentially hostile inhabitants, only to realize that the other humans are the real enemies. The presence of transparent medical charts and Stephen Lang doesn’t help, either. And how about that welcome speech by Lang? They really could have just switched out his AVATAR speech. “You are not in Kansas anymore! You are on Pandor–I mean, uh…Terra Nova!”

There were also a couple character moments that did not ring true for me. The first two I noticed both came from Jim’s kids: Josh and Zoe. At first Josh was so desperate for his father to make it to Terra Nova with the rest of the family, but then as soon as we got there it turns out he harbors a deep resentment against his dad for abandoning the family. Josh’s hatred against his father makes no sense to me, and it looks like it was just shoehorned in to force some familial drama into an otherwise engaging sci-fi show. On the other hand we have Zoe, who barely knows her father since he’s been in jail for a large part of her life, but she seems to completely warm to him after one conversation. Finally, I was a bit thrown off by Stephen Lang’s Taylor going from being completely untrusting and spiteful against Jim to quickly admitting him into his security squad and telling him all of the secrets of Terra Nova. It seemed much too trusting of a move for a character who was built up to be so tough and hard-nosed.

Apart from that, I really liked most everything else about the premiere. The Sixers are a great idea for a villain, the dinosaurs were cool (if a bit cheap looking), and the mysterious hieroglyphics discovered by Skye hint at some cool backstory into the Terra Nova wormhole and the real answer of what happened to Taylor’s son. With some likable characters and a great action sequence towards the end, this is really turning into a fun show.

There was definitely a lot to like here, and I’m sure the premiere will do very well for FOX. I’m hoping we get a little more explanation and backstory into the Sixers, how exactly this wormhole came to be, and hopefully we get some better character development from our lead family. However, we’ve got a whole season of Terra Nova to look forward to, and I’m excited to see what happens next!

What did you think of this premiere? Sound off in the comments section below!

Random Thoughts:

– I was so happy to see Allison Miller playing Josh’s love interest, Skye. She played Michelle on the criminally underrated NBC drama Kings. If you haven’t watched that yet, do yourself a favor and check it out on Netflix.

– Was that conversation that Skye and Josh had while cutting the fruts supposed to be an Aliens reference, or was I just hearing things? “They mostly hunt at night.” “Mostly?” Definitely very similar to the infamous line from Aliens “They mostly come at night. Mostly”.

– Any Degrassi fans happy to see Landon Liboiron playing Josh Shannon? My wife screamed “It’s Declan!” as soon as she saw him. What is it with girls and Degrassi?