Mar 26 2013 5:00pm

Why We All Should Have Been Nicer to Terra Nova

terra nova dinosaur week shannon family ankylosaurus

There are two things we know television viewers like: family drama and ongoing story arcs. (Two and a half if you include cops.) And in 2011, Terra Nova gave us both of those things, plus dinosaurs and time travel. Also, just to be safe, the main character was a cop, and then later a dinosaur cop. How did this show get cancelled? It was ticking all the demographic boxes! But the sad fact is, Terra Nova passed most of us by, and then, brutally imploded into obscurity. Here’s what you missed.

I was totally guilty of making fun of Terra Nova without actually seeing it, cracking jokes in the office about how it was likely to get cancelled midway through the airing of the pilot episode. This was unkind, but in my defense, showrunner Brannon Braga’s track record doesn’t inspire much hope in me, despite my well-known reputation as a Braga apologist. (Honestly, I’d rather have him and Ron Moore writing Star Trek again, but I digress.) In any case, a year after it was cancelled, I decided to give Terra Nova a whirl, and found myself watching the entire series in just two days.  I’m not here to tell you this was the best television show of all time, but it was a solid science fiction show, and a fairly decent character drama.

Oh! Did I mention there are dinosaurs? The essential premise of Terra Nova concerns future humans escaping an over-polluted 2149 and emigrating to the mid-Cretaceous period to start anew. The totally brilliant thing about setting the show at the end of the Mesozoic is that it allowed the show’s writers free reign to create a whole host of fictional dinosaurs, avoiding the clichés of various dinosaurs we’ve seen before. Jack Horner, paleontologist and consultant for Terra Nova actually encouraged the showrunners to include made-up dinosaurs in the series. From a 2011 article on MSNBC:

“I suggested 85 million, because it’s a time that we know the least about, and it’s kind of in the middle of the Cretaceous period, which means we could bring some older dinosaurs forward and take some younger dinosaurs back without getting in too much trouble…We just cannot use a T. Rex, but there are tyrannosaurs, so we can certainly create an animal that looks very similar to T. Rex”

And while this conceit created some silly-sounding names like “Slashers” and “Carnos” the dinosaurs do look pretty sweet, and aren’t all fiction. My favorite dinosaur on the show is easily five-year-old Zoe Shannon’s baby ankylosaurus which she tragically has to return to the wild midway through the season.

Zoe is the youngest child in the Shannon family, whose machinations are the primary focus on Terra Nova. Jim Shannon was a cop in 2149, but imprisoned unjustly due to a dust up with population control laws in the future. (The Shannons weren’t supposed to have Zoe!) Jim’s wife is Dr. Elisabeth Shannon, and the colony’s chief medical officer. Their other two kids are Josh and Maddy, 17 and 16 respectively. Along with Terra Nova’s commander—Nathaniel Taylor—these are basically the main characters of the show, making Terra Nova essentially a family drama. There are mysteries concerning the founding of the colony and possibly some things Commander Taylor isn’t telling the inhabitants. The Shannons are the 10th pilgrimage to Terra Nova, but there are a myriad of dust-ups concerning the renegade 6th pilgrimage, who repeatedly try to mess up the good guys.

The ongoing struggle between the Terra Nova people and the “Sixers” provides much of basic conflict throughout Terra Nova’s only season, and in the episode “The Runaway” these clashes result in the capture of newly anointed dinosaur cop, Jim Shannon. In what is probably the most telling scene in the entire series, the thematic confusion and troubles with the show are made clear when rebel leader Mira and Jim have the following exchange:

“That’s not what Terra Nova was about, not now, not ever!”

“Then what is Terra Nova really about!?”

These are actual lines of dialogue, moments when the characters themselves become self-aware and start critiquing the very premise of the fictional universe in which they inhabit. Because in spite of all the wonderful dinosaurs and solid family-drama stuff, Terra Nova does get bogged in too much false intrigue and petty human secrets. For a show dealing with dinos, it occasionally gets lost in secrets we’re not that interested in. There’s a mole loose in Terra Nova and no one knows who it is! But really, the viewer doesn’t care, as the Shannon family’s problems with each other are way more compelling than a warmed over Tinker Tailor Soldier Dinosaur.

At its best, Terra Nova offers episodes like “What Remains,” in which a strange prehistoric spore causes memory loss, effectively sending Elisabeth back to a time in her brain when she hadn’t yet met her husband. With Acceraptors closing in, Jim has to convince his wife that not only is it the future, but also the past, as in “Hey it’s the future, you’ve lost your memory. Plus in the future, which is now, I’m your husband and we live in the dinosaurs times because of all the pollution.” This is the kind of awesome character drama science fiction is created for. This episode is genuinely touching, and made all the more dire by killer dinosaurs lurking around Jurassic Park style in a quarantined compound.

Terra Nova might have sported some off-the-rack plots and cop drama mixed with family drama action to create relatable hooks, but, for the most part, it did it in a blatantly honest way. I think the dinos on this show look awesome, and with all the fictional ones, it’s a special treat when a “real” dino shows up. (Zoe feeding the Brachiosaurus and being lifted off her feet is particularly memorable.) And even if it was occasionally confused as to its own premise, the characters are likable, interesting, and make you worry for their future.

Combining science fiction with good characters and dinosaurs was a noble effort, and if you give Terra Nova a chance, you’ll be wishing all of these folks and their prehistoric friends had made it to a second season.

Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com.

D. Kwas
1. D. Kwas
I really miss this show :-( I missed it the first time around as well, just too busy to watch television at the time, but I caught it on Netflix and was instantly addicted. It's not often I find a show that's compelling AND fairly safe to share with the kids.
D. Kwas
2. Matthew Porter
Great write-up. My wife finally cajoled me into catching up on this show about halfway through the first season, and it didn't take long for me to see the potential. It wasn't a blockbuster, but then again, even some of today's greatest shows weren't their first seasons.

Count me among the veiwers who really wish the writers had gotten a second season to try to help Terra Nova live up to it's potential.
David Thomson
3. ZetaStriker
I couldn't watch the season all the way through. Honestly, they took dinosaurs, and time travel, and they somehow found a way to make it boring. Overall, things just seemed too normal for a show about people traveling 85 million years into the past. The drama was too familiar, and the focus on it did a disservice to the fantastic setting they decided to dump it in. Sometimes I felt like I was watching the Brady Bunch, and occasionally a T-Rex would stumble by and roar a bit.

In the end, I think they had a great premise, but tried to hard to capture the target demographic. What you mention - the cop-family drama-sci-fi hybridization - is the show's fatal flaw. If it had been just one of those things, great, but it fails at managing all of them. Episodes ranged from family drama that could've been ripped right out of The Brady Bunch to riffs on been-there-done-that generic sci-fi scripts. The memory loss episode you mention, for instance, was done in exactly the same fashion by Eureka years before, only with a killer security system instead of raptors.

Overall, I just couldn't get into it. It wasn't offensively bad, but it was terribly bland. Like a meal at Applebees.
D. Kwas
4. PhoebeSF
I'm with ZetaStriker. Tried to watch this show when it was on the air. We caught the first five live. I have a high tolerance for narm, melodrama (hellooo, Degrassi), and SF cheesyness. But the characters were entirely too blan. Neither my husband and I were entertained at all.

And the teen characters were just SO unrealistic. Totally seen from an adult lens, and not engaging, to boot.
D. Kwas
5. Thaxll

I made an effort to see this show when it was on, but it never really connected. The acting was mediocre at best and the whole thing was just not interesting ...

Which is a real feat considering it does tick all the boxes + dinosaurs! as you said.
D. Kwas
6. Eric Saveau
I tried really really REALLY hard to like this show. "Humans go to the past and live among dinosaurs? Dudes, I'm your target audience!" But I found the intrigue lackluster and Jim downright petty; the episode where he meets his wife's old boyfriend was eyeroll-worthy for much like a sulky ninth-grader Jim was behaving. And the kids always sneaking out into their hideout in the wild without any apparent sense of danger smashed my suspension of disbelief into small pieces and lit them on fire.

While I was still watching I was trying to pitch the show to someone who hadn't started watching yet, and in the midst of all the caveats I raised for it, I found that I had inadvertantly talked myself out of watching it anymore.

And it's a real pity, as the premise was fascinating and I loved the dinos.
Gregg Anderson
7. digrifter
I watched too many episodes of Terra Nova. The very last episode was its best -- Too little, too late.

Good riddance I say!
Matthew B
8. MatthewB
I think the problem was that it actually had very little in the way of dinosaurs and time travel for a show about time travelling and dinosaurs.
Christopher Turkel
9. Applekey
It tried to be many things but did none of them well, until the last couple of episodes. I wish it had gotten a second season.
D. Kwas
10. Herb5
The pilot and the finale were awesome. I'll just pretend like the rest of the season didn't happen.
F Shelley
11. FSS
Agree with those above who said this show tried too hard to hit too many demographics. I watched the first couple of shows with my daughter. The only good thing was we both got bored at the same time...
Alan Brown
12. AlanBrown

They lost me when the mysterious and incredibly valuable substance that the rebels were using as currency turned out to be iron.  From meteors.  But still.  Iron. 

James Whitehead
13. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
My family enjoyed this show, especially my 10 year old.

The writing, however, was terribly uninspired & predictable. The drama just wasn't compelling enough to last longer.

Christopher Bennett
14. ChristopherLBennett
I agree with #3 -- the writing just didn't live up to the potential of the concept or the cast, so the show felt kind of empty. (Well, it was really only the female half of the cast I liked. Pretty much all the female cast members were quite likeable and appealing, especially the Shannons.)

But the main reason the show got cancelled was that it was just so expensive to make. It would've needed super-huge ratings to be profitable, and it didn't clear that bar.

And I think that expense was part of the creative problem too. With so many producers pouring so much money into the production, there was so much at stake financially that the producers were reluctant to take any real chances and thus settled for relative blandness.

@12: Iron only seems commonplace to us because we've had mining industries for thousands of years. But it took Stone-Age humans tens of thousands of years to figure out how to obtain substantial quantities of iron. It's scarce on the Earth's surface except in meteorites and in ore deposits that it takes a lot of effort and energy to extract the iron from. The Terra Novans were starting a new civilization from scratch, and hadn't had the time or resources to establish much of a mining or smelting industry, or to find the best iron deposits on this prehistoric Earth with a completely alien geology. So it makes perfect sense that meteoric iron would be a scarce and precious resource to them.
D. Kwas
15. jurassiraptor
Actually the Carnos -- a.k.a. Carnotaurus -- are one of the real dinosaur species the show used.

I agree with the critiques that for a show about dinosaurs, there were surprisingly few dinosaurs. Some episodes only had one or two very quick glimpses of a dinosaur in the distance, and a couple episodes had no dinosaurs at all. When you promote a show as a high-octane dinosaur thrill fest, but instead deliver a show that tangles itself up in predictable family melodrama and one-dimensional characters, it's of course doomed to failure.

Which is a shame, because the show definitely had its moments. If it would have been done right, this show shouldn't have failed: Across the pond, "Primevel" is an expensive, special effects heavy, dinosaur-ridden thrill fest (with well balanced character drama, to boot), and it's lasted four seasons.

I really wish Terra Nova could live on as a comic book, or a major movie, or some other medium perhaps better suited for it.
D. Kwas
16. Texas Lee
I was genuinely micterated when Fox did what it does so well, tosses out a good show for low budget reality poop. If I want poo I'll go change my kid's diapers. I know it was apricey show, but it was avery good show.
Firefly, Doll House, New Amsterdam, Touch (not gone yet but there's a rumor Kiefer Sutherland is moving to a new show.) and others, on the networks, all lost to programmer cowardice and bean counter greed
Peter Tijger
17. Peter-Tijger
I had never heard of it, but saw a dvd of it a while ago. It looked cool enough, but I didn't buy it because it was utterly unknown to me. Is there a satisfying end to this first season or does it just stop midway through the story? In other words, should I bother to pick it up?
D. Kwas
18. Sigurd
This show was rubbish from the first episode and peaked as dreary crap.

The immature 'dad' characters arrogant response to being reduced to menial labour duty, when he found out that he wasn't going to get to parade around with a gun and a badge after his arrival was the only interesting point - except that it was just tragic to see the glorification of a military dictatorship.
Joe Vondracek
19. joev
I enjoyed this show a lot. It was the best drinking game that's come along in the last few years.

"Here go the teens again, sneaking out of the compound to some place where they should all die in several hundred colorful ways, but won't! Drink!"

"Here's Jim Shannon, criminal from the future who snuck into the time portal to get here, acting all pissy pants again! Drink!"

I think viewers just didn't appreciate the snark-worthiness of Terra Nova. In that category, very few shows can match it.
Christopher Bennett
20. ChristopherLBennett
@16: FOX has an unfair reputation for cancelling genre shows. The fact is, most shows get cancelled young as a general rule, and SF shows have it particularly hard because they cost more to make and tend to attract smaller audiences, making it much more difficult for them to make enough profit to stay on the air. The reason FOX has cancelled so many genre shows is because it's bought so many more genre shows than any other American broadcast network in television history. If you look at the proportion of genre shows to cancellations on every other network, they're no better than FOX's. Heck, this past season, we've seen ABC and NBC debut and cancel several short-lived genre shows such as Last Resort, 666 Park Avenue, and Do No Harm, while the only genre show FOX has cancelled this year was Fringe, which was allowed to complete its run with a fifth season -- a length that relatively few shows of any genre on any network manage to reach. (In fact, until ST:TNG came along in the '80s/'90s, I don't think any American prime-time SF or fantasy show ever got more than five seasons, and the number that lasted even that long could be counted on one hand.)

The main reason shows get cancelled is because audiences don't watch them. It's nonsensical to blame it entirely on the networks. If the viewers don't watch a show, then the advertisers won't buy ad time, and so the network just won't have the money to keep making it, no matter how much they may want to. Conversely, if the viewers gobble up something like crappy reality shows and the advertisers pay tons of money for them, then the networks have no choice but to keep making them no matter how much they have to hold their noses.

The problem with Terra Nova wasn't that it was unfairly killed by some imaginary evil executives, but that its writers didn't make it interesting enough to hold a large enough audience to justify the enormous expense of making it. It just wasn't good enough to survive.

@17: Like most shows these days, TN had a season-long arc that came to a climax in the finale. Naturally the finale raised new questions as setup for a second season, but there is some resolution to the main arcs of the season.
Peter Ahlstrom
21. PeterAhlstrom
We watched every episode and enjoyed some of them quite a bit. We would have watched more. But since it got canceled, this year we are watching: Absolutely nothing on network TV. And Psych is the only American TV show we are watching, when it happens to get posted on Hulu.

Terra Nova wasn't great, but it was decent enough. Not something we dropped after just a couple episodes, like Touch and Revolution. Also, Terra Nova, I understand it, was among the highest-rated shows to get canceled last year.
Christopher Bennett
22. ChristopherLBennett
@21: Yes, but -- as stated -- also one of the most expensive. Ratings success is proportional to how expensive a show is to make -- as with any business, the higher your overhead, the more profit you need to earn in order to to succeed. And TN was a very expensive show, so the bar for ratings success was unusually high, and it failed to clear it.
D. Kwas
23. tigeraid
I loved the premise, I liked where the mythology was headed, I liked whatshisname from Avatar as the leader of the village.... and that's about it.

If there's one thing I DON'T like, it's family drama. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I stopped watching it because I was not interested in all of little teenie-bopper bickering and "coming of age" stuff from the kids. Call me jaded, but there's plenty of other places to watch that junk. I would have enjoyed the show immensely more if it was just a cop and his wife. I am so sick of entire episodes of a show devoted to "WHERE DID THE KID GO? HE/SHE SNUCK OFF TO ? WE HAVE TO SAVE HIM/HER!" And then we all hug.

And I also agree that the tired sci-fi tropes started VERY early, for a show that had so much potential. Someone above mentioned the memory loss episode, and it was the perfect example. If you want to start falling into that same ol' same ol' when you're five seasons in, fine, you've run out of ideas. But you have an entire untapped mythology to work with, and you rip off Star Trek/Stargate almost immediately?
D. Kwas
24. nancym
@19, yes, exactly. I thoroughly miss this show for the laughs, and to cheer on the dinos.
Michael Grosberg
25. Michael_GR
The show was dull, the charachters were uninspired, the teens were unbelievably stupid at times and the grownups way too forgiving (teens sneaking off from a fortified compound to make out in a DINOSAUR INFESTED JUNGLE should be flogged, for their own sake), that kid was especially annoying... but all of that could have been forgiven if they'd used the wildlife in any meaningful manner.

If you set a show in Alaska, you might see a moose or polar bear once in a while, but it's not the focus of the show and the viewer doesn't expect it to be. But when you set your show in the cretaceous, you can't marginalize the dinos like that; you'd better get some dino-on-dino action - or people riding dinosaurs - or have somebody eaten - and you'd better make sure you have some of that on every episode or your show ain't worth a damn.
Alan Brown
26. AlanBrown
@14 I still don't buy the premise that the colony needed iron enough to go all gaga for a few hundred pounds of it, not when tonnes of the finished product in the form of heavy vehicles, weapons and construction material, was being pushed through the time machine.
Christopher Bennett
27. ChristopherLBennett
@26: Shipments through the time portal were intermittent, and with the limited communication between times, the folks back home might not have been fully able to assess the colony's supply needs. And maybe they just had the foresight to realize that they might not always be able to depend on shipments from the future. After all, the whole reason for the colony was that the world of the future was dying, the civilization on the verge of collapse. Thus it was clearly in the Novans' best interest to become independent as rapidly as they could. (Particularly in light of what happened in the finale.)
D. Kwas
28. pabkins
I really liked this show and was sad when I heard it wasn't picked up for a second season. It makes me not want to watch Tv shows while they are being aired because what if they get canceled? I love scifi/fantasy and I just don't think those TV shows are as popular as the cop and medical dramas. Its a shame!
D. Kwas
29. GetSmart
Did they ever explain why they wouldn't use real guns? "Sonic stunners"? Weak. A 50 caliber machine gun would be a great dino stopper.
D. Kwas
30. Staar84
Am I the only one who had a problem with the concept? Going back in time would change the future so they wouldn't have had the same problems on regular Earth so they wouldn't have to go back in time ...
D. Kwas
31. Abyss
I tried to like this show. I really did.
But the human drama, the unoriginal interpersonal crap, the bland conspiracies, the wholly unsurprising relationships, just left me meh.

Plus the complete failure to mount a .50 cal on a triceratops even once.
Joe Vondracek
32. joev
@29 GetSmart: IIRC, they said something about not wanting to disrupt the ecological balance by killing off the local fauna unless there was no other choice.

@30 Staar84: Supposedly, they went far enough back in time that anything they did wouldn't have an effect on the future. When the show aired, I and others speculated that they hadn't really gone back into their own past but had gone back into an alternate timeline. Considering the discovery in the final episode, maybe they actually went forward in time...

@31 Abyss: They really missed the boat by not having Taylor ride a dinosaur. If anyone could have done it, he could've. Sadly, he only got to ride a motorbike under one...
Christopher Bennett
33. ChristopherLBennett
@30: The whole idea of a timeline being "changed" as it's generally portrayed in fiction is quite fanciful and self-contradictory. Change requires a before and an after, and a single moment in time can't come after itself. By definition, if there are two or more versions of the same point in time, they exist simultaneously, in parallel timelines. So the model where going back in time branches off a separate timeline makes more sense than the one where it somehow "overwrites" the original timeline. And so does the model where time is immutable and everything that time travellers do was part of history all along.

@32: The kind of artifacts they found in the finale couldn't possibly have survived millions of years. And future evolution wouldn't recapitulate past evolution that precisely. Not to mention that if they were in the future rather than the past, they could tell by observing the positions of the stars and galaxies, the distance of the Moon from the Earth, the amount of cratering on the Moon and other airless bodies in the Solar System, the temperature and luminosity of the Sun, the ratios of long-lived radioisotopes in geological deposits, the shapes of the continents, etc. There are many indicators they could use to determine when in time they were, so there's no possible way they could've thought they were in the past if they were actually in the future.
D. Kwas
35. Gweilo
The "meteoric iron" -- the whole motivation for the invasion in the finale was for Evil Corp to mine the "meteoric iron" and send it back to the 22nd C. Which is mindbendingly stupid. Meteoric iron is metallic iron. We have megatonnes of iron ore. Mountains made of it. Half the planet is iron. It was only valuable back in prehistory, before we learnt how to smelt iron ore. Iron ore + coal = Iron. Now it's worth a few cents a pound.

They should have thought of some unique biological product to be their McGuffin. But then, given the demonstrated ability to synthesize any given organic substance (as when they made the pterodactyl pheromones), that wouldn't really make sense either. Terra Nova is only valuable as lebensraum. They should have had a bunch of 22nd C oligarchs/mafioisi/whatever appearing, escaping from the polluted future.

The "amnesia spore" episode far from being a high point was a pathetic low. Every soap opera has an amnesia story, or several. And it was cured -- with a kiss! Blah.

And the absurd reluctance to kill dinosaurs -- they use tranq guns and even one man eating raptor was actually stitched up so it could return to eating colonists. Though Taylor was shown fishing, so killing fish apparently is moral. Killing reptiles is not? The whole planet is full of dinosaurs. There are a few hundred colonists. They could kill one sauropod a month and live on it without harming the ecology.

Like Primeval, you had to grind your teeth at the waste of such a great premise.
Christopher Bennett
36. ChristopherLBennett
@35: The idea was that the future society had become so overpopulated, rapacious, and wasteful that they'd squandered the Earth's resources. Sure, they could've reclaimed a lot of those resources by embracing recycling and adopting a more environmentally sound way of living, or they could've harnessed space travel to mine the effectively limitless resources of the asteroids. But the society was ruled by lazy, greedy, self-interested oligarchs whose criminal mismanagement of the planet's resources had doomed it to destruction. Somehow, they stumbled across a time warp to the distant past, and they began exploiting it the same way they'd exploited everything else -- gobbling up new resources because they couldn't be bothered to exploit or reclaim the old ones responsibly. It wasn't supposed to make sense; the whole driving force behind the story was that the society's approach to resource use and exploitation was entirely senseless, foolhardy, and self-destructive. The fact that they were even running out of something as commonplace as iron wasn't a mistake on the writers' part, but an illustration of how grossly the governments of the future had mismanaged their resources.
D. Kwas
37. Gweilo
@36 Sorry, there is no way to rationalise the "meteoric iron" story. Iron is iron and there are mountains of it. 5.6% of the earth's crust is iron. Our blood is made from it. Even if it was worth 100x what is is now, it would still never make sense. Iron isn't oil. It doesn't get consumed when we use it. You can just go to a scrapyard and melt down old machinery or girders if you don't want to dig it up; a million times easier and cheaper than taking it through a time tunnel.
In the pilot we saw a zoom in to earth showing sophisticated spacecraft. We are within a decade of asteroid mining now. There are solid nickel iron asteroids, cubic miles of metal, a billion time larger than the few tonnes of iron they fussed about in the series -- and that would be "meteoric iron" if you think that's special in some way, though it isn't.
Braga just thought that "Meteoric iron" sounded magical.
Christopher Bennett
38. ChristopherLBennett
#37: I'm always amazed by the paradox that the people most motivated to tear Brannon Braga down also elevate him by assuming he does everything by himself and ignoring the existence of the collaborators he has always, always worked alongside. Terra Nova in particular was a show with a huge writing staff and tons of producers. It was created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein. Braga was one of four writers on the pilot, along with those two and David Fury. He ran the writing room alongside Rene Echevarria, and they both answered to Steven Spielberg and other executives. If you want to criticize, criticize all of them. Braga has never been a sole auteur.

And I'm not saying the iron thing made perfect sense. I'm saying it was a story device to symbolize the irrational rapaciousness and terrible resource management of the future society. Come on, a lot about this show was fanciful. I don't see how the iron thing is any harder to suspend disbelief about than the existence of a time warp.
James Whitehead
39. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@38ChristopherLBennett, from what I was told that was part of Terra Nova's problem: too many producers.

Alan Brown
40. AlanBrown
@35 and @37 Thanks for chiming in on the meteoric iron issue. I gave up on the show after only a few episodes, but it was obvious from the first few times that it was mentioned, the iron was generating way too much interest for such a common stubstance (and whether from space or not, iron is iron).
@38 Glad you are willing to admit that the iron thing did not make perfect sense. It is lazy writing to come up with a McGuffin that doesn't pass a modest sniff test. You can have all sorts of marvelous devices and things that are beyond the science and technology we have currently, but once those futuristic devices are built into the story, the rest of what is presented should be consistent with what we know about the world around us. Only a few hours of give and take with a professor at a good university, or better yet, a classroom full of students, could give so many SF shows a good fact checking.
D. Kwas
41. AO
A *lot* of shows imo need half a Season to a couple of Seasons to find their footing, most of the Star Trek's, Buffy, Angel, Fringe and many more. I think that with a bit more time this show could have gotten much better.

As it is, it's Nielsen ratings amongst the all-important Adult 18-49 Demo made it practically a coin flip as to whether it should have been renewed. Sadly, Fox renewed Touch, which ratings-wise was weak last TV Season (with a lot of schedule coddling) and abominable this one and decided to premiere the new show Mob Doctor this past Fall. That went over like a lead balloon and I think it worth noting that even longtime Fox drama Bones did relatively poorly on Mondays (Terra Nova's old night). If Fox would have known what would happen then they would have given this at least another 13 Episodes, but alas there is no time travel to save this show.
D. Kwas
42. Tinus
I really like this show. A new world, a new beginnen, back in history and a great adventure.
Ofc with a bit (to much) sci-fi but who cares.
Still hoping they will make a new season. I even search the internet for it.
(I am from Holland so don't blame me for the bad typing)
D. Kwas
43. SG-U
Loved the show it was a great original series and a nice change of pace from all those crime show's and after the ending I thought this show would have so much potential for a great story in the second season if there was one. I wish this show would come back :/
Christopher Bennett
44. ChristopherLBennett
@43: Yeah, a change of pace from the crime shows, except that they made the lead character a cop.
D. Kwas
45. Craigval
I knd of got into the middle of the show and I kept wondering why the Cretaceous? Surely they didn't pick the most dangerous geologic period on purpose. If it wasn't just punch the button and get us out of here it would have made a lot more sense to go into he Eocene or Miocene
Christopher Bennett
46. ChristopherLBennett
@45: As I recall, the time rift was created by accident. The future society didn't choose their destination, that's just where it happened to come out.
D. Kwas
47. RyanG
It's truly amazing how so many people can hate this show. I found this show on netflix and flew through all the episodes in less than two days. I showed my friend an episode and he did the same. This show had family appeal as well as adult appeal. Sure it had it charater drama, but it didn't do it in a way that was so boring and whiny. It also didn't make that drama the whole purpose of the show. It's really too bad that nobody picked the show up for a second season. The potential was all there.
D. Kwas
48. JCSheffield
Don't give me any greif, I watched Terra Nova even when it seemed like the writing was aparently one of the only things in the whole production not to get a lot of attention or money. That said, I still liked it better than Revolution, I had to give up on that dren.

I was willing to wait it out to see if they would decide what they wanted the series to be and get better at doing that.

I blame FOX for running it in a crappy timeslot.
D. Kwas
49. marcR
I lost interest in the show because of the conspiracy plot arc. I wanted and was hoping for a show about people actually trying to make a civilization on our Earth 95 million years ago. I wanted more "Swiss Family Robinson" and less "Lost". Also, I am tired of formulaic family drama, where you have to deal with sterotypical cops, angst-ridden teenagers, cute kids, and adults with pasts they want to hide.
D. Kwas
50. Kilted Savage
Yep, I love those moments when the term "Told you so" is not only possible but is also used in a mocking way and to all of the so called 'critics', both paid and the water cooler type....IN YOUR FACE, YOU PRETENTIOUS SNOBS! Real fans of the show saw, from the beginning, a show that was fresh, smart, funny and exciting and while there were a few hiccups, the abuse Terra Nova received by hacks and pseudo intellectuals was uncalled for. Sadly, it was the FOX Network that had this gem in their lineup and as we all know, FOX is all about reality TV and animated series and Terra Nova was just to smart, savvy, interesting for that network and it's mentally challenged fan.base. It didn't take long before the network heads began to listen and believe the drivel and stuck on stupid being spewed out by critics.

I hope the series gets another chance and there is talk about this happening so we keep our fingers crossed. Let's hope you and the rest of your ilk pull your heads out, take the time to watch the series and see the series for what it is- entertaining and fun. If you want deep, life changing TV experiences, watch Oprah or FOX TV Cartoon and reality lineup.
D. Kwas
51. kiedu
Too many teens, not enough dinosaurs. I agree many shows are not given time to develope, I would have watched at least the first few shows of season 2.
D. Kwas
52. Fenrir
I really miss this show.
It had an enormous potential but was denied a second season there was only one episode that felt a little like a plothole("Proof") but only because of one important character being missing and because it's not even mentioned afterwards.
The show had family/drama/mystery and even a lot of romance which is practically non existant in sci fi.
I agree with Kilted Savage FOX only seemed to listened to the bashing of the show made by morons who usually didn't even WATCH the damn thing,
nBSG was alowed like FOUR seasons even though it sucked BIG time from the very start with all that psycho-babble(basically Twin Peaks and lost in space), And two off FOX own shows Simpsons that died all but completely after the sixth or seventh season, and finally family guy that wasn't even funny to begin with!
If Terra Nova had been aired by a more competent network than FOX then it would have at least survived into a second season perhaps more. Sadly I realised Terra Nova AFTER it had been cancelled but I love the show despite this!
Netflix I heard was thinking of a revival but changed their minds much thanks to FOX bungling the effort with their stalling.
D. Kwas
53. Sisyphus
I totally concur that this series developed into a winner that just needed a little time to find an audience by the end. I also can't fuss with anyone who dumped it 20 minutes into the pilot, like my missus, confronted with yet another trite Earth turned desert almost overnight with a side of child endangerment owing to draconian child quota measures. This premise was not necessary to establish or typical of the tone of the rest of the series.

The show was very good and still improving episode to episode at the end. Fox's loss.
Christopher Bennett
54. ChristopherLBennett
@52 & 53: See my comments in post #20. Terra Nova was absurdly expensive and didn't get high enough ratings to justify its cost. It would've been cancelled on any network. Indeed, FOX is one of the only networks that would've bought such an ambitious and expensive genre show in the first place. Syfy or The CW could never have afforded it, and of the other three major networks, only NBC or maybe ABC would've been likely to go for something so overtly science-fictional, though I'm not sure ABC would've gone for it unless Disney had produced it. And we've seen in this past year how quick on the trigger both NBC and ABC are with cancelling genre shows that don't get satisfactory ratings. In the past few years, FOX has been better than most broadcast networks at letting its scripted SF/fantasy dramas actually complete their seasons as scheduled.
D. Kwas
55. jediwoman
I am both a hard science geek and a scifi junkie. I no longer have cable so I rely on Netflix for tv series. After seeing the pilot, I was mighty impressed & certain the series was too intelligent not to have been canceled after the first season. Unfortunately, I was right.

Ratings no longer reflect viewship. Who watches shows in real time? Most of my friends still watch commercial television but record what they want to watch. For the most part, it is to utilize the FF button to delete the annoying ads. Of course, most people prefer to watch shows at a time convenient for them. For people who work 6o hours a week, that might be on the weekend. Recording shows to watch later is the rule and not the exception.

Skewed ratings explain the dearth of shows that require critical thinking. This also explains why there are plentiful reality shows despite the many who claim to hate them. Too bad the networks don't count the ratings on Netflix; the series that get 5 stars frequently are canceled after the first season. People are dumping commercial tv because it no longer provides programming worth paying for!!

If the networks don't smarten up - commercial television will meet the fate of the dinosaur.
D. Kwas
56. Victor Hugo
Damn, i just discovered this show on NetFlix, it was so awesome, so tender and epic, i was left speechless.

Of course i recognized Brannon Braga’s words here and there, even the guy in the bar behaved like Quark in Deep Space Nine.

So, i´m heartbroken that this amazing show was cancelled, i mean, what does the "demographics" want anyway? They had dinosaurs! G.I.Joes! Stargates! Damn, i´m tearing up now. :(
Christopher Bennett
57. ChristopherLBennett
@56: Umm, Brannon Braga never wrote for Deep Space Nine. He started as a staff writer on Next Generation, rose through the ranks on Voyager to become its showrunner for seasons 5-6, and then co-created and co-ran Enterprise.
Rob Rater
58. Quasarmodo
Terra Nova was alright. I'd keep watching if it was on, but I'm not too broken up that it was cancelled.
D. Kwas
59. Darius Starfire
i would really like to know who to contact or how to bitch someone out for its canclation i think it was cut too short and now i have like 100 people in oregon alone that wanna voice a complaint if anyone knows how i can go about getting there voices heard send me a link and join me in reaming an ass or too for it because everyone knows that enough people band together and complain people take notice
D. Kwas
60. Dcam
Still miss the programme, and think of the endless possible scenarios that might have unfolded had it been given a chance. Shame on TV executives for not seeing beyond their noses ... Not too late to resurrect it!
Christopher Bennett
61. ChristopherLBennett
@60: As I pointed out above, it wasn't a question of vision, it was a question of money -- like 99.9 percent of all decisions in television and film. This was an incredibly expensive show to make, and it would've therefore needed incredibly spectacular ratings to earn back that expense. And it didn't get those ratings, so they just couldn't afford to make more.
D. Kwas
62. Breezy
I loved the first series of Terra Nova and was eagerly looking forward to a second when I discovered it had been cancelled. The slim hope that another network would pick it up has sadly never been realised. I was hoping that someone might have picked up on the fact that there is a market for this type of sci-fiction and carried on the story in book form but to date that doesn't appeared to have happened.

If someone is looking for a concept for a new series of books please take note.
D. Kwas
63. Random22
I miss the potential, but the show itself was just a mess. The main problem was that at no point did it ever feel like they were colonizing the past. Or establishing a colony anywhere. It felt more like summer camp with a farmers market attached. There shouldn't, at that point in the colonization, have been any commerce at all.

The kids were brats, and worse stupid brats, who seemed to have an inordinate amount of time on their hands. Utterly indulged and spoiled. The adults were just as bad though, they were either assholes or idiots, or idiotic assholes. And worse, they were assholes for no reason other than the casting notes said "asshole".

Contrast with the current colonization of a hostile earth with teen brats show, The 100, where the adults might be assholes; but at least they have reason to be. The teen brats might be stupid brats, but they suffer for being so every episode. Terra Nova was a nice idea, but somewhere along the line they lost sight of the implications of the scenario, and lost sight of characterization. Both of which are trademarks of Brannon Braga.
Christopher Bennett
64. ChristopherLBennett
@63: As I've pointed out before, Braga was one of a huge number of producers on this show. It doesn't make sense to talk about him as the creator or sole auteur. The problem wasn't any one producer -- on the contrary, the problem was that there were so many producers with so many differing agendas to serve that the show had to be somewhat homogeneous and cautious to satisfy them all.
D. Kwas
65. Random22
@ 64.

Hey, I watched (suffered?) TNG's Genesis and Star Trek:Enterprise; I am never done hating on Braga. I've earned it. :o)

In seriousness though, I think the problem is that having been through his Trek shows, its the quirks of his from those that I recognize rather than any of the other army of producers; whose quirks I do not know. When I see something noticeably Braga, it is easy to then hang all the rest of the flaws on the same recognizable hook.
Christopher Bennett
66. ChristopherLBennett
@65: I find that people who don't like Braga seem to see anything they don't like as "Braga-esque" whether it had anything to do with him or not. And it's bewildering that the people who like Braga the least are the ones who insist on giving him more credit than he deserves while denying the very existence of all his collaborators, even giving him credit for creating shows that were actually other people's creations. (Braga has only three series creator credits to his name, for Enterprise, FlashForward, and Salem, and in every case he's one of a pair of creators -- his partners being Rick Berman, David S. Goyer, and Adam Simon respectively. And FlashForward was based on a novel by Robert J. Sawyer, of course.)

Braga is not the all-powerful auteur that his critics bizarrely want to elevate him into. He's a team player, a workmanlike producer who works as part of a group and fills a specific role that's assigned to him. At least that's what his filmography says to me. And I don't see enough similarity between Trek, FlashForward, Terra Nova, and Cosmos (I haven't seen any of Salem or Braga's seasons of 24) to see any single overarching style connecting them. On the contrary, I think they've all been quite different, and the two I haven't seen both sound like they're probably very different from the rest.
D. Kwas
67. cascsa
thats right terranova is the best so please can they change thier minds and make season 2 pleeeeeeeeeeeeees i looooooooooooooooooved it soooooooooooooooooo much
D. Kwas
68. Nia
Please just bring this show back. Its the first time I really love a show. Ppl do love it but don't know what to do to bring it back. There are enough fans if only you'd give it a chance.

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