Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Terra Nova

I'll take a break from RPG reviews to do a review about a science-fiction show on Fox (meaning that it might last a whole season — maybe).  It's related, though, for reasons that will become obvious.

So far, Terra Nova has only had one episode, "Genesis" (that's the Hulu link, by the way, if you want to go see it).  That reveals the basic premise, as more-or-less shown in the adverts: future Earth has been more or less depleted (I think Earth being "used up" was the phrase used by another Fox television show), but humans have determined some method to travel back in time.  So, they develop a colony 85 million years ago.

That's the simplified setup.

Anyway, upon seeing the adverts, my father referred to it as "Jurassic Lost," but I was reminded of Dennis Detwiller's Delta Green opera, Future/Perfect (in case you're interested in running it, Part 4 is here).  Spoiler (highlight to read): In Part 3, it is revealed that a group has been hiding a gate to the past, and that group has created a human colony in case some disaster befalls present-day Earth.  Sounds similar, right?

At any rate, I didn't liveblog it, but I will record my thoughts here, more or less in order.  Spoilers ahead, though I'd gather my thoughts don't make much sense unless you've seen it.

• Not just Future/Perfect, but Future/Perfect meets Soylent Green.

• Oh yeah, teenage love lasts forever.  I'm sure you'll figure out a way to return through the one-way portal and be reunited with your girlfriend.  That seems like a perfectly reasonable story arc.

• Scratch that; Future/Perfect meets Soylent Green meets The Prisoner.

• Did...did they just refer to someone as "Six?"

• Confirmed.  The rebels are called "Sixers."  Nice Prisoner reference.

• Forgot about your girlfriend quickly, didn't you?

• Are those alien geometries?  I'm not sure if Serpent Men or aliens would make this show better, but I desperately want this show to be Lovecraftian, so I'll allow prehuman civilizations.

• Teenagers are dumb.

• I know armor is only marginally helpful, but why is the new security guy still running around without armor?

• Ah.  No aliens, just a crazy Chekhov's Gunman.

• ...and now the struggle between Terra Nova and the Sixers is Unknown Armies.  This is acceptible.

All-in-all, not the greatest show, but worth watching.  Dinosaurs are in every Monster Manual for a reason.  I'd like to keep up with it, so I can at least see where it goes.

The only thing detracting from the show (for me) is that I want it to be Lovecraftian, where time travel is less a deus ex machina and more a horrible, horrible mistake.  There's still time for that, though.

If there are Serpent People, though, I'm all in.


  1. Man, I'm 30 minutes into it and I'm not sure I can watch any more. The core conceit is fine, but the execution, this entire too-many-kids-lawbreaker-cop thing is too contrived.

  2. To illustrate my thoughts about Terra Nova, I'll use a quote from "The Simpsons."

    Homer: Wait, I'm confused about the movie. So the cops knew that internal affairs were setting them up?
    Glen: What are you talking about? There is nothing like that in there!
    Homer: Oh, you see when I get bored I make up my own movie. I have a very short attention span.

    I don't think the show is great, and I doubt it will hold my attention for the whole run, but I was able to watch it because I basically started ignoring the family plot once I determined they were lame and one-dimensional. Granted, all the characters are lame and one-dimensional, but I'm committed to the premise at least long enough to see where they're taking it.

    Also, I was originally excited that there might be some ridiculous ancient astronaut bullshit, but now that I've figured out Taylor's actor also played General Hopgood, I'm excited at the prospect of him walking through walls.

    In the prehistoric past of the grimdark future, we'll all be Jedi warriors.

  3. See, I don't see Hopgood, I see Col. Quaritch (which really made me appreciate Goats even more).

    Anyway, just so damned much of it is hamhandedly contrived. Like, this whole business about the third kid is stupid, poorly implemented, and ultimately pointless... so why bother? What's so crucial about this prison stint/escape/break-in thing that we all know has nothing to do with anything?

    I mean, they could have just... had him go with his family to work in security, saved over an hour's worth of material, and fit in moar dinosaurs.

  4. Oh, I totally agree with you. The family is pretty much a series of stereotypes, and it appears that having an ex-convict father will have minimal (if any) impact on the future of the story, other than they can always fall back on a "guy from the future comes to bring convict dad to justice" plot or a "family gets angsty because dad was missing for two years" plot when they run out of ideas.


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