It is the year 2149 and the world is on the verge of environmental collapse. Citizens must wear masks to breathe, and families are limited to two children. The Shannon family has broken this rule by having a third child, and Population Control arrives to search their house. When the officers try to take 3-year-old Zoe, Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara) fights back, and is arrested.
Two years later, Dr. Elisabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn) is recruited to be the newest member of the medical team on Terra Nova, a settlement 85 million years in the past that is being prepared as Earth’s salvation. However, travel to Terra Nova is done via a one-directional time portal, and teenagers Maddy and Josh would also be joining her. So Jim manages to escape from prison in time to join his family at the portal, smuggling Zoe through in a backpack.
When the Shannons arrive on Terra Nova, they meet the man in chargem Commander Taylor. At first glance, Terra Nova appears to be the perfect paradise, but Jim soon learns this is not the case. Dangers lie at every corner—besides the carnivorous dinosaurs, there is also a renegade group known as the Sixers. These folks came through on the 6th pilgrimage with a cache of weapons and an agenda to take over the settlement.
Terra Nova instantly won me over with its amazing pilot. It was like watching a feature film, with an interesting premise and some really tense Jurassic Park style Dino action, mixed with elements of Stargate and Lost. The pilot also sets up some great story arcs and mysteries that are explored throughout the rest of the season. As the series progresses, we see the hunt to discover the identity of the Sixer spy who has infiltrated the Terra Nova camp, and learn more about the Sixers and their agenda. The show also explores the secrets and demons haunting Commander Taylor and Mira, the leader of the Sixers.
Besides the core mythology, Terra Nova also has some really good story-of-the-week plots. In an episode that pays homage to The Birds, Terra Nova comes under attack from a legion of Pterosaurs. And another episode finds Terra Nova dealing with an outbreak of a mysterious virus that causes memory loss, paranoia and death. However, what I really looked forward to each episode was the dinosaur chomping action scenes!
The main part of the show I didn’t care for was the stories based around the three Shannon kids. I often found the kids annoying, and wished they took less of a prominent role in the show. All three of the kids had at least one story line that had them doing something really stupid that put the colony in danger.
However, the action, adventure and mythology more than made up for those annoying Shannon kids. The series started with an action-packed, intense pilot, and ended with another action-packed double-episode finale. By the end, it answered most of the questions raised in the pilot, and went in an interesting direction in the finale. It’s a shame there won’t be any more episodes, but it was definitely worth watching.
What’s Included on the DVD:
- All 13 episodes of the series
- Audio: English 5.1 DD, French 2.0 DD Surround
- English SDH, Spanish subtitles
- Deleted Scenes (11:02)
On Disc 1 there are 7 deleted scenes from the Pilot (9:52) and on Disc 3 there is one additional deleted scene (1:10).
- Director’s Diaries — Making the Pilot (34:32)
Alex Graves, Executive Producer of the series, and director of the pilot gives a day-by-day rundown of the shooting of the pilot. He talks about what went into building the vehicles, props, dinosaurs, sets and locations. There’s lots of behind the scenes footage with the cast and crew as they film the pilot.
- Mysteries Explored (9:00)
The creators and cast talk about the various mysteries of the series—Calculations, Sixers, The Box, Mira, The Spy, Commander Taylor, and The Badlands.
- Cretaceous Life: The Dinosaurs of Terra Nova (10:10)
Interviews with the cast, crew and paleontologists about the species of dinosaurs created for the series.
- Extended Series Finale (1:34:57)
Watch the series finale with an additional 7 minutes of footage.
- Commentary on Occupation/Resistance (1:27:47)
Stephen Lang (Commander Taylor) and Executive Producers Brannon Braga and René Echevarria discuss the double-episode series finale. (Only available on broadcast version of the episode.)
- Gag Reel (3:09)
Clips of the actors forgetting their lines and other tomfoolery on the set.
I originally watched Terra Nova on the FOX HD channel, so it was slightly disappointing that there wasn’t a Blu-ray release for the series. That said, the picture quality was still really good and crisp, with some occasional macroblocking. This DVD set has a pretty solid set of extras, including the four main things I look for—episode commentary, behind the scenes footage, deleted scenes and a gag reel. I found the making of the pilot featurette particularly interesting.
It’s a shame the show wasn’t picked up for a second season as the way the series ended, it really left me interested to see what would happen next. If you haven’t seen Terra Nova, it’s definitely worth checking out this short-lived action/adventure series.