Spielberg’s new dino show is the most expensive first season ever produced by Fox, and the makers are promising it won’t be like Lost …
Terra Nova , the new Spielberg show about colonists travelling back in time to the prehistoric era, is the most expensive first-year series ever for the Fox network, so it needs to be a hit (some reports suggest the pilot alone cost $14 million). And speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour this week, the makers behind the show were at pains to point out that Terra Nova will appeal to everyone, and not just science fiction fans.
“This has nothing to do with Lost , for one major reason,” said Alex ( Fringe ) Graves, one of the executive producers. “It’s made for a massively broad audience. Terra Nova is for everybody, from my kids to the gamer to my dad.”
The CG-dinosaur-filled series will get a preview on 23 and 24 May, before the series begins properly in the Autumn. But, taking a leaf out the BBC’s book when it comes to sci-fi, the makers are keen to point out: “It’s not sci-fi”.
“It’s really about this frontier family trying to survive,” says Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager veteran Brannon Braga, the series’ writer/executive producer (hmm, will the family travel back in time through a fuzzy blue anomaly, then?).
Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment, Fox Broadcasting, was also keen to distance Terra Nova from recent high concept shows like Lost (which suffered dwindling audiences the more complex it became), FastForward and The Event (which both struggled in the ratings): “You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. But this doesn’t have as many plates in the air as Lost . This is one big buy-in.”
The show has also hit the news in the past few months because of the departure of high profile writer/producer David Fury, and reports that the entire writing staff had been sacked. But the producers downplayed all of the alleged issues, explaining that they emerged after the decision was made last year to move the production to Australia. “We had one writing staff change and that was really it,” insisted Braga.
“That rumour probably came out of the production delay, where it took us a little more time casting and finding a shooting location,” executive producer Rene Echevarria agreed. “Because of the three-month delay, a lot of the writers had to move on to other projects in the interim. The challenge of casting a family took time, too.”
“It wasn't a matter of firing people and bringing others in,” added Braga.
“It did take longer than expected to mount this,” said Grave. “Creating a show is like giving birth, with labour pains and everything else. This show is like a big baby.”
Braga also revealed that Spielberg was very hands-on in the production: “Every idea he comes up with is ingenious, and we want his feedback. Of course, it’s a little terrifying thinking that he's watching over everything you do. But our interaction with him could not have been more positive.”
A trailer for the show was also previewed to the assembled journos and critics, the general felling being that it looked very expensive and Avatar -ish (though hopefully we won’t have to wear silly glasses to see it).
The official press release describes the show as follows:
“The series centres on the Shannon family as they join the Tenth Pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first colony established in this beautiful yet forbidding land. Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara), a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new world of limitless beauty, mystery and terror. Jim’s wife, Elisabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn), is a trauma surgeon and the newest addition to Terra Nova’s medical team. Josh Shannon (Landon Liboiron) is their 17-year-old son who is angry to leave life as he knows it behind; upon arriving at the settlement, he finds himself instantly drawn to the beautiful and rule-breaking Skye (Allison Miller). Maddy Shannon (Naomi Scott), Josh’s endearingly awkward 15-year-old sister, hopes Terra Nova will give her a new chance to reinvent herself. Although Elisabeth’s medical training secured the family a spot on the pilgrimage, a secret involving their five-year-old daughter, Zoe (Alana Mansour), soon endangers their place in this utopia.
Upon the Shannons’ arrival, they are introduced to Commander Nathaniel Taylor (Stephen Lang), the charismatic and heroic first pioneer and leader of the settlement. Taylor, along with his right-hand man, Guzman (Mido Hamada), warn the travellers that while Terra Nova is a place of new opportunities and fresh beginnings, all is not as idyllic as it initially appears. Along with blue skies, towering waterfalls and lush vegetation, the surrounding terrain is teeming with danger - and not just of the man-eating dinosaur variety. There is also a splinter colony of renegades led by the battle-hardened Mira (Christine Adams), who is vehemently opposed to Taylor and his leadership.”
According to critics who saw the trailer, the show looks very Avatar .
Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara)
Elisabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn)
Josh Shannon (Landon Liboiron)
Nathaniel Taylor (Steven Lang)
Guzman (Mido Hamada)
Zoe (Alana Mansour) and Skye (Allison Miller)
Maddy Shannon (Naomi Scott) and Mira (Christine Adams)