Do the dinosaurs have feathers?

The most buzz-making rumored creature feature wasn’t on display in Fox’s Terra Nova trailer, but that’s to be expected since the production just recently wrapped its two-hour pilot in Australia and special effects are far from finished.

Here’s what was shown to critics at press tour: The trailer introduced a dystopian future, where the Shannon family (Jason O’Mara is the dad) wear breathing masks, lining up for “the final shuttle to Terra Nova” — an Earth colony set 85 million years in the past. Once they stroll through a bright light tunnel, they arrive in the past at a fenced-in compound that’s surrounded by dense Pandora-like tropical forest and at least one towering waterfall. The Shannon family is greeted by the rugged Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang, the bad guy in Avatar, and yes, you are correctly sensing a trend here).

At first, everything’s all prehistoric Blackberry-free bliss. The Shannon family hangs out in their new eco-friendly homestead breathing clean air with solar panels on the roof. “We’re starting over as a family,” etc.

Then… an attack!


Characters get violently yanked from view. Guns are drawn. Colonists speed off in The Lost World-style armored tumbler trucks. Danger! Excitement! And finally, here comes the show’s tagline: “There is no paradise without sacrifice.” Boom, take that, Shannon family.

After the trailer (which, sadly, isn’t available for online yet) producers give some detail about the concept. The Earth’s population is in big trouble and the colonists went back in time to start humanity over in hopes of rebooting the human race (yes, there’s an environmental theme — and that’s at least three Avatar-like elements, for those keeping count).

Now, going back 85 million years seems a bit like overkill. Especially since an asteroid comes along and kills a large percentage of life on Earth about 20 million years later, give or take a millennium or two. Couldn’t the Shannon family just go back to the 1920 and invent the hybrid car or something?

Critics had some questions too. In fact, as soon as the trailer ended, one declared, “I have a time paradox question,” and a producer groaned, “Oh dear God, no.”

Why, the critic wondered, aren’t the future-people worried about having the past-people making changes that will result in the future-people no longer existing?

“They’re hoping to restart humanity through this time fracture they’ve discovered,” Braga said. “What effect it has on the future — they’re hoping it will be a positive one…. Earth can only be saved if people restore themselves. Can Utopia be built? Is it possible?”

Hmmm. That doesn’t quite answer the question — but it might help explain my hybrid-car question. If it’s a “time fracture” thingy they’ve discovered, maybe it doesn’t give you a choice on where you go and only sends you to one specific point in time — like my DVR when I try to skip a commercial.


And what about that killer asteroid?

“In the show, they’re acutely aware of that fact, and have a plan in mind,” Braga said.

“And they have 20 million years to perfect that plan,” added executive producer Rene Echevarria. As if anticipating the next question, he reassured everyone: “The series will not go 20 million years.”

Episode Recaps

Terra Nova
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