Monday, September 26, 2011

"Terra Nova" is really an Old Earth

So here’s the low-down on the concept of “Terra Nova”, the new sci-fi series that started tonight on (broadcast) Fox.  Maybe it refutes my contention last week that the networks have given up on the sci-fi series.

In 2149, the world is ruined by climate change – and looks like am extract from “Blade Runner”.   (The CGI effects were pretty detailed; this would have been good in 3-D Imax in a movie.) As in China, families are limited to two kids (not just one, which was China), else jail for the father. But the powers that be design a “time stream” to set up pilgrimages to 85 million BC, during the dinosaurs (before the asteroid) and give people a chance to colonize Jurassic Park and rebuild.

Now, I don’t buy violating the time arrow of physics. I could accept going to another planet, or even a parallel universe. So let’s see “Terra Nova” as a parallel world.

Jason O’Mara plays a cop, married to a doctor Elizabeth (Shelley Conn), and has gone to the pokey for having a thir kid. The oldest Josh is played by smooth-looking  Landon Liboiron, with siblings Naomi Scott  and the illegal baby Zoe (Alana Monsour). Elizabeth gets invited to join the Seventh Pilgrimage, and gets her hubby out. Now going through security to enter the portal is easier than it is with the TSA to fly today.

Nathaniel Taylor (Stephen Lang) runs a dictatorship (or “Timocracy”) in his circular compound carved out of the jungle (which looks almost like the set of Avatar, or at least southern China).  Inside, the lifestyle is a curious mix of new technology and old. Sorry, there’s no Facebook.

Nate explains the political problems in Terra, caused by conflicts among the pilgrimages that map those back in Mother Country.  The economy could not be mercantilist, since there is no way to send stuff back (through a forward Time Arrow) to "mother country", but it seems like there is no fiat medium of exchange.  I’ve explored that idea in one of my own screenplays (“Prescience”), a sequel to a UFO landing, where abductees visit a planet where the kingdoms match earth civilization at various times in history and technological development, and the trick is to move the technology around (illegally), and again where the social system is a mixture of Timocracy and moral meritocracy, without money.

Toward the end, the kids (Josh) go on adventures outside the perimeter, and have to be rescued from the velociraptors.  A 20-something in another family, Hunter, is played by Sam Parsonson, and is eye-popping cute. Unfortunately, he doesn’t survive the raptors unscathed (his legs are flayed by the beasts).  Sorry for the spoiler.

Steven Spielberg was excutive producer, with his production company Amblin (and, oh yes, 20th Century Fox). Today, on p C6 in The Washington Times, reviewer Rob Owen mentioned Spielberg’s series “Sea Quest DSV” in the 90s as a flop, but I thought the concept of a submarine with a resident dolphin and teen graduate student was interesting.  

The series is created by Craig Silverstein and Kelly Marcel.

Owen also mentioned the new CW series “Hart of Dixie”, comparing it to Everwood. Unfortunately, my Comcast recorder (Guide on the control panel) isn’t working (I haven't bothered to troubleshoot or call them yet), so I’ll have to watch in online soon to review it.

Here’s the official site


See "cf" blog on Nov. 8, 2011 for episode "Nightfall", about a meteor strike and possible EMP damage. 

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