This season’s new shows have been dominated by Whitney Cummings, to mixed results. As funny as she is, her two shows are leading a rookie crop that is more of the same. Thankfully, Terra Nova doesn’t fit that trend. While it is billed (like so many others) as the next Lost, it isn’t more of the same. While a few shows have failed with that billing, none of them were as promising as Terra Nova. Moreover, all of those shows (Flash Forward, The Event, etc…) were grouped together because, in theory, they had expansive mythologies unlike anything else on TV. Those shows failed for a variety of reasons, most of which center around the fact that they could not invest viewers in the mythologies they had created. That differs with Terra Nova.
Terra Nova‘s pilot is certainly not perfect, a point made terribly evident by the inordinate amount of time the show spends in the futuristic hellscape that is the show’s jumping-off point. The viewer already knows that the family at the show’s center is going to Terra Nova, the colony 85 million years in an alternate-reality past, so the hurdles they have to overcome seem unnecessary.
Having said that, when the family gets to Terra Nova, the episode really picks up. It is very visually impressive and begins to address the question of, “How would we organize society if we could start over?” That is the main draw of the show, and is the reason I’m already hooked. The pilot succeeded in expressing this question, but it also opened up a number of other interesting story lines. There are already questions about how anyone was able to travel back to Terra Nova, why there is a rebel band trying to undermine the colony’s success, what strange hieroglyphics beyond the colony’s borders mean and what the wild planet has to offer. Obviously, this means nothing to you if you haven’t seen the show, but rest assure, all of these potential story lines are very meaty. The show’s success or failure will be predicated on how it deals with these story lines. Will it play them slow and allow them to slowly intertwine, or will it try to burn through them to get to the next “interesting” plot line? I have hope it will be the former.
- Dan Spritz