Terra Nova: The Not So Little Show That Just Didn’t Give A Crap


That’s how it goes in my head, anyway. In the actual show, Terra Nova, it goes more like “There’s some seriously cool shit happening all around us, but let’s focus on whether or not our 5 yr old is going to get mopey when we tell her she can’t dopt a baby ankilosaur.” Terra Nova is a show with a fantastic premise (humanity escapes a dying earth in 2149 to rebuild civilization millions of years in the past) and nearly unlimited potential that seems to chose to ignore all of those facts and instead focus on Seventh Heaven-style family pseudo-drama, black and white morality and a plot that advances at a glacier’s pace. 

Suggestions For Improvement:

-Jim Shannon’s reason for being in prison (“We know there’s a government ban on having more than 2 children, but we REALLLLLY want another child even though we know it will totally fuck up our lives forever.”) is fucking bullshit. When you live on a planet that is choking to death on humans and their pollutants, making more people just because is not only selfish, considering the dire consequences it’s just really stupid. 

-Jim Shannon and the rest of his family seem TOTALLY UNFAZED by his time in prison. He was taken out of his home by police in front of his wife and child, who then had to fend for themselves for 2 years, and thrown into a hellhole of a prison where he didn’t even have breathable air and after he escapes and reconnects with his family in Terra Nova, everyone is just fine. No scars emotional or otherwise. Sure the son was mad for a day or two, but he quickly got over it. Connor’s daddy issues against Angel spanned 18 years and multiple dimensions and Angel didn’t even do anything! How about these people ACT LIKE PEOPLE? Jim should have done something while in prison that he has to hide from the colony or from his family. Something that would build a little character depth. He should at least have a hard time readjusting to normal life. He should have had a hard time sleeping on a comfortable bed, or with his wife or without a knife under his pillow. This man needs some demons. 

-Please kill all of the Shannon children. Most of the plot lagging seems to revolve around Sheriff Jim Shannon ignoring big picture problems that affect the lives of everyone in the colony in order to see to the booboos, hurt feelings and needs for a stern talking to of his 3 annoying children. 

-Give us more of “Earth That Was.” That seems like a pretty interesting, Blade Runnery type place. Let’s see some of the people who are trying to make it over to TN. Something to ground the show to the reality of the world they are escaping. I wouldn’t even mind a few flashbacks to life before TN. Assuming the writers can give these characters some depth, THEN use glimpses into their pasts to show us how they got so deep. 

-More character depth: Every character is so one dimensional. Their motivation is written right on their foreheads. 

-MORE CHARACTER FLAWS!!! Every single character is so virtuous and righteous. Even Skye, the would-be Sixer spy, was doing all of her betrayal for noble reasons. Hell, Mira just wants to make a better life for her daughter who’s trapped in 2149. The only character with real, unmitigated evil is Taylor’s son and even he is just suffering from a severe Oedipal complex. The oldest Shannon daughter just wants to get good grades and be properly courted by a soldier. She is a teenager in a world full of dinosaurs! There has to be all sorts of trouble to get into. I actually wonder if the vetting process for getting into Terra Nova has something to do with the squeaky cleanliness of the colonists. Maybe all the interesting characters came over on the 6th pilgrimage and left with Mira. What about Doctor Mrs. Sheriff Shannon? Why didn’t she get up to no good when daddy was in jail? Maybe she had to make some moral sacrifices to get by while he was gone. Pain doesn’t define us, but it certainly gives us more interesting things to talk about. Taylor is the biggest offender of all. 

-Speaking of Talyor: He’s basically the flawless Mesozoic Messiah. Even when it was revealed that he killed and buried someone it secret, it was proven to be for the “right” reasons. I have such a hard time looking at him without seeing Col. Avatar, that I want him to start acting like that guy. Don’t try to make friends with Mira. Try to KILL HER! She keeps trying to KILL YOU! Go on the offensive! Taylor needs to be hiding some terrible secret about Terra Nova that only he knows. I thought they were going there with the strange writings on the rock faces, but that thread just frayed into a big pile of boredom. 

MORE SEX!!!: Seriously. This show could be super-sexy in a real, adult, non gratuitous way. The way BSG was and the way the later seasons of Buffy were. There is no sexual tension. No unrequited love. No people sneaking around to do it, because doing it is already awesome but doing it in a dinosaur jungle is REALLY FUCKING AWESOME. Why can’t Doctor Mrs. Sheriff Shannon’s ex-boyfriend be a real threat to Jim instead of some mincing ninny? Why didn’t Doctor Mrs. and the ninny sleep together then they both lost their memories and both thought they were still dating? OMG that would have created some awesome drama. They couldn’t be blamed for their actions but the repercussions would resonate for the seasons to come. 

MORE DINOSAURS!!!: I almost left this one out because it’s so obvious. I know they’re expensive to render, but it sure seems like Terra Nova resides in the most dino-free zone on the supercontinent. For the first few eps it seems like the dinos posed a real threat to the colony and now they just seem like a minor nuisance. 

More realistic living conditions: Why do they live in posh IKEA houses? Why doesn’t Terra Nova look more like New Caprica? There should be tents and bunk beds. Not brushed aluminum and sliding opaque glass doors. A major resource needs to dry up or a become unusable. 

Quick Ideas For Ongoing Threads Or Single Episodes: 

-Earth That Was goes boom!: Reveal that while the government tells the people of Earth they have at least 100 years left to solve their multiple crisis, it turns out there’s only about a decade left before the planet is uninhabitable. The purpose of TN is not to save humanity, but specifically to create a sustainable infrastructure that the upper crust of society and government can move into and leave the shitty Earth behind to fend for itself. Think of it. All of the leaders of politics, industry, etc just up and leave. Is it a curse or a blessing? This would be SO MUCH BETTER than “we want to strip mine the pristine past just to make us more rich in the shitty present.” 

-Alternately, the government is covering up that Terra Nova actually DOES reside in our same time line, but the location of the colony is directly above a major volcanic fault or right in a meteor impact zone, so their impact on the future will be minimal. Still, some changes start to bleed through. People come over from the future and remember events differently. Lots of potential there. 

-Someone from within Terra Nova needs to challenge Taylor’s leadership. A coup. A Tom Zerek, if you will. 

-Speaking of BSG character archetypes, give us a lovable shit bag. Where is our Gaius Baltar?

-Continuing this thread: Fold in some peripheral characters every now and then. Where is our Callie? Our Kat?

-Make the show Battlestar Galactica. I’m only half kidding.

-Instead of killing the Shannon boy’s girlfriend they should have had him lose all hope of her getting to TN, full on get busy with Skye and THEN the girlfriend makes it through. CONFLICT!!!

-Someone should try to harness the dinos for labor or power and get horribly killed. Theres a whole episode for free right there. 


Obviously I wouldn’t care so much about Terra Nova's mistakes if the show were total garbage. I care because the premise is so spectacular and opens up so many doors, yet the writers and producers seem to be keeping all of them tightly shut. What are they afraid of? Telling a compelling story? I worry that if TN totally flops then no one will touch this subject matter again for a decade and all of these opportunities will go to waste. 

Please, someone, won’t you save Terra Nova from itself? 

Maybe one of these guys can do it: 

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