Terra Nova Genesis Parts 1&2 TV REVIEW


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So what is SFX ’s initial reaction to the massively expensive new Spielberg-produced dino show?

Writers: Kelly Marcel, Craig Silverstein, Brannon Braga, David Fury
Director: Alex Graves

THE ONE WHERE The Shannon family are hurled from a dying future Earth to the perilous world of prehistory, where humanity’s hopes for a new beginning lie with the time-travelling pioneers of the Terra Nova colony. Dinosaurs go wild. Teens act dumb.

VERDICT Twelve executive producers, four writers, 250 sets, whispers of a $4 million per episode budget and the regal wax seal of Steven Spielberg – you’d be forgiven for expecting big things from the opening chapter of Fox’s new dinophile drama. And yes, the beasts themselves are probably the most impressive prehistoric critters ever conjured for the small screen (there’s an inevitable echo of Jurassic Park in our first view of the Brachiosaurs, tellingly glimpsed from a tiny child’s perspective). But if the FX are cutting edge, the writing feels all too fossilised, spoiling a promising Cretaceous age spin on the classic American frontier myth with bursts of sub-Spielbergian schmaltz, clumsy bouts of exposition and the everyday clichés of family drama. It doesn’t help that the Shannons make for distinctly unengaging protagonists, nor that their pioneer stockade home feels as starkly dramatic as Club Tropicana (look, they’re wearing shorts, and yes, the drinks are free). “I wanna see the dinosaurs again,” says little Zoe. Too right, kid.

HIGHLIGHT The Carnosaur assault on the all-terrain vehicles – complete with Sixers blasting the beasts with rear-mounted laser cannons – is an insanely entertaining barrage of cheap pulp thrills.

INSPIRATIONS The look of the smog-choked future metropolis clearly steals from Blade Runner , right down to the populace’s mouth-masks and giant, looming TV screen faces.

WTF So the queue for mankind’s most mind-bending accomplishment – a one way ticket to the far-flung past – has security only marginally tighter than the average Easyjet flight to Dublin?

Taylor: “Together we are at the dawn of a new civilisation. No pressure.”

Terra Nova begins airing in the UK on Sky1 at 8pm on Monday 3 October

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Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.