Terra Nova borrows from many SciFi Franchises
Yes Terra Nova borrows from many SciFi franchises, but that can be a good thing if done properly.
Premise: In the future mankind has ecologically ruined the earth to the point where you have to wear a re-breather just to go outside. Fresh or “Real” food is rarely available. I scientific experiment discovers a rift in time/space. In order to save humanity project Terra Nova is setup to send people back 85 million years to establish a new civilization.
Here are some of the borrowed Concepts:
Rift in Time/Space allows travel back in time. (Most notably Primeval, Doctor Who, Torchwood) This is a standard tried and true SciFi concept.
Travelling back in time creates a divergent timeline. (Most notably the 2009 Star Trek Movie) This did fix my main concern with the premise of the show, which was if they sent people 85 million years into the past, why is there no record of that civilization existing. This is explained in the pilot. By traveling back in time you create a new divergent timeline that has no affect on the original. When the scientists first discovered the rift they sent a probe through. They were unable to locate it anywhere on earth, in the present day. This told them that is was ok to send people back, as they would not impact the current timeline.
One way physical travel through a wormhole/rift in time. (Most notably Stargate) It is implicitly stated that it is a one way trip, there is no way back to the present. But it is also mentioned on several occasions that the Commander of Terra Nova has communications with their people in the future. So they have 2 way radio (something) communication through the rift.
Dinosaurs are cool, and scary. (Most Notably Primeval, Jurassic Park) Can’t argue with this one. Plus it gives them a good staple of known and unknown threats to work with in the series. There is no way we can ever really know about every species of Dinosaur to have ever roamed the earth, so as long as it’s not too far out there the writer’s can come up with their own creations.
Review: With all of that out of the way, I have seen the pilot and second episode of Terra Nova, and so far it has been fairly enjoyable. The main family that you follow in the series, the Sahnnon’s is made up of a father Jim(Cop), mother Elisabeth(Doctor/Scientist), son Josh, and 2 daughters, Maddy and Zoe. My biggest problem with the pilot was the main family with the exception of the older daughter (Maddy) all seemed to be complete idiots. I don’t know if the characters were meant to come across that way, or if it was done to impress upon the audience just how dangerous this “New World” was.
For instance, Josh because he’s with a cute girl (this usually turns teenage boys into idiots) goes out of the Terra Nova gates into the wilderness and due to various circumstances gets marooned out there with his friends at night, so a search party is formed. Jim Shannon having just been added to the Terra Nova Security team is naturally on the search team. But Elisabeth insists on going, leaving both daughters behind to fend for themselves if anything should happen to both parents. Commander Taylor even points out that sending both parents out on a dangerous mission is not a good idea, but then relents, saying if you insist you will both come with me so I can keep an eye on you.
Fortunately most of this seemed to disappear in the second episode, maybe almost dying knocked some sense into them, but I found the second episode much more enjoyable. I think Terra Nova just needs to find its place, it may take a few episodes but it’s off to a pretty good start, let’s hope they can keep it up.