ⓘ Terra Nova (TV series)
Terra Nova is an American science fiction drama television series. It aired on the Fox Network for one season from September 26 to December 19, 2011. The series documents the Shannon familys experiences as they establish themselves as members of a colony, set up 85 million years in the Earths past, fleeing the dystopian overpopulated and hyperpolluted present of the mid-22nd century. The series is based on an idea by British writer Kelly Marcel with Steven Spielberg as executive producer. On March 5, 2012, Fox announced that the show was canceled.
The series is initially set in 2149, when overpopulation and declining air quality threaten all life on Earth. When scientists discover a temporal rift permitting one-way human transmission, they initiate a series of "pilgrimages" to a parallel "time stream" resembling Earths Cretaceous Period. The series focuses primarily on police officer James "Jim" Shannon, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children Josh, Maddy, and Zoe, as they join the colony there, named "Terra Nova" Latin for "New Earth" or "New World".
Elisabeth Shannon is chosen to join Terra Nova for her medical expertise, and her two older children with her. Her husband, imprisoned for violating population control by harbouring a third child and assaulting an official agent to protect his young daughter, stows away to join them and eventually convinces the colonys leader, Commander Nathaniel Taylor, that his own police expertise is of use to the administration.
Opposing the colony and its leader Taylor is a group of separatists known as the "Sixers", so called because they arrived in the "Sixth Pilgrimage", working in concert with corporate industrialists to strip the Cretaceous Earth of its resources and transmit them to 2149, allowing for massive profits at the cost of environmental destruction. It is later revealed that Commander Taylors estranged grown son, Lucas, is working with the Sixers as well. Toward the end of the series, Lucas perfects travel to and from the future, thus enabling the industrialists, with a private army called "The Phoenix Group", to invade Terra Nova. At the end of the series, Jim Shannon returns to 2149 to destroy the gateway permitting travel to the Cretaceous, whereupon the Phoenix Group retreats to the nearby "Badlands", leaving behind a wooden ships figurehead apparently located there by another temporal rift.
2.1. Cast Main
- Jason OMara as James "Jim" Shannon, a former Chicago Police narcotics detective. He is married to Elisabeth and is the father of their three children. After a lengthy imprisonment for breaking population-control laws in 2149, he escaped and rejoined his family in the Terra Nova colony, where he worked on the gardening division. After saving Commander Taylor from an assassination attempt, he joined Terra Novas security forces, eventually becoming third-in-command of the colony.
- Naomi Scott as Maddy Shannon, Jim and Elisabeths 16-year-old daughter. Intelligent but socially clumsy, and depicted principally either as a student or the love interest of Mark Reynolds, a young soldier.
- Shelley Conn as Dr. Elisabeth Shannon, a trauma surgeon who works at Terra Novas medical center. She is married to Jim and is the mother of their three children. In the series premiere, she was instrumental in Jims escape from prison and arrival in Terra Nova.
- Landon Liboiron as Josh Shannon, Jim and Elisabeths 17-year-old son. Reluctant to leave his girlfriend behind in 2149, he initially resented his father; but in later episodes they repair their relationship.
- Stephen Lang as Commander Nathaniel Taylor, Terra Novas head of state. Himself the first colonist, Taylor survived 118 days alone, helped build a community as new settlers arrived, and has been the colonys leader for seven years. When Skyes parents died, he became her legal guardian and father figure. Taylors relationship with his son, Lucas, has degraded severely since an incident in 2138 in which Taylor was forced to sacrifice his wife to enemy fire. Lucas arrived in Terra Nova on the Second Pilgrimage, but plotted against his father to destroy the colony, and has since re-appeared as antagonist.
- Mido Hamada as Guzman, a member of Terra Novas security forces and father of Tasha, a teenage girl who is one of Skyes closest friends. Guzman was originally meant to have a bigger role and was supposed to be the colonys second-in-command, which is why Hamada was credited as a member of the main cast. However, after the pilot, Guzman was written out of the show, and the second-in-command was said to be Lt. Washington.
- Allison Miller as Skye Alexandria Tate, a veteran resident of Terra Nova from the Fifth Pilgrimage, and Joshs closest friend. Her parents reportedly died three years before the series begins, and she was subsequently adopted by Commander Taylor. She is later revealed to be a Sixer mole, being blackmailed by the Sixers who held her mother hostage and controlled the medicine which kept her alive.
- Christine Adams as Mira, the leader of the "Sixers", a rebel group that arrived with the Sixth Pilgrimage but who soon broke away to oppose Terra Nova and to prepare for the Phoenix Groups invasion. Miras daughter, Sienna, is still in 2149 and is held by Miras employers to ensure her cooperation. Miras ambition is to return to 2149 and have a comfortable and peaceful life with her daughter.
- Alana Mansour as Zoe Shannon, the five-year-old later six-year-old daughter of Jim and Elisabeth Shannon. Early in her life, she was kept hidden by her family, having been a third child in contravention of the population control laws of 2149. When she was discovered, Jim was sent to prison. With the aid of a friend, Zoe was smuggled into Terra Nova and permitted to remain in the colony.
- Rod Hallett as Dr. Malcolm Wallace, the chief science officer for the Terra Nova colony. Early in the first season, it is revealed that he recruited Elisabeth for Terra Nova, having earlier had a romantic relationship with her, and he was hopeful that she would leave her husband in prison in 2149.
2.2. Cast Recurring
- Caroline Brazier as Deborah Tate. Under the cover story that she died in a fever epidemic, she was taken to the Sixers by her daughter Skye who made a deal with Mira, the Sixers leader, for treatment of her mothers illness in return for spying on Taylor and the colonists. Later in the first season, she was rescued by the soldier Curran and returned to the colony.
- Matt Scully as Private Dunham, a member of Terra Novas security team.
- Romy Poulier as Kara, Joshs girlfriend from 2149. She was unable to join the Shannons on the Tenth Pilgrimage in the series premiere, whereafter Josh cut a deal with the Sixers to bring her to Terra Nova. She eventually arrived with the Eleventh Pilgrimage, but was killed shortly thereafter by the Phoenix Group, who used a suicide bomber upon arrival.
- Ashley Zukerman as Lucas Taylor, the estranged, deceptive and vengeful son of Nathaniel Taylor, and the main antagonist of the series. A brilliant yet unstable physicist employed by the same people who hired the Sixers and the Phoenix Group to assist their invasion of the alternate, past Earth, for which he remained there at some length, periodically revealing the results of his calculations. During the finale, his plans were counteracted by Jim Shannon, and Lucas himself was wounded by Skye and not seen again.
- Damien Garvey as Tom Boylan, a bartender and former soldier who occasionally trades with the Sixers. Often secretive and abrasive, he operates minor crime but proves loyal to Terra Nova when the Phoenix Group invades.
- Jay Ryan as Curran, a member of Terra Novas security team. Banished from the colony for murdering a fellow soldier named Ken Foster, Curran was later encountered by Taylor in the local jungle, who saved Curran from an Ancestral Komodo. Thereafter Taylor employed him to infiltrate the Sixers camp, whence he rescued Deborah Tate. In recognition of Currans actions, he was readmitted to Terra Nova.
- Dean Geyer as Corporal Mark Reynolds, a soldier under Taylors command and eventually the suitor of Maddy Shannon. He is a competent soldier and able survivalist, but often uncertain of his own position, and therefore formal, when interacting with Maddy and her father Jim.
- Emelia Burns as Corporal Reilly, a member of Terra Novas security forces and an expert at defusing bombs.
- Damian Walshe-Howling as Carter, a member of the Sixers who was once injured and captured at Terra Nova. After escaping, he made an attempt on Nathaniel Taylors life and was stopped by Jim Shannon, and released during a trade with the Sixers.
- Peter Lamb as Casey Durwin, a tradesman that works in Terra Novas market and a former member of the U.S. army. He operates a motorized wheelchair, allegedly having lost his legs to a Carnotaurus.
- Simone Kessell as Lieutenant Alicia "Wash" Washington, the second-in-command to Nathaniel Taylor. She had served with Taylor for several years prior to her assignment to Terra Nova. In the season finale, she was reduced by the Phoenix Group to menial status and later killed by Lucas Taylor for abetting the Shannon familys escape from the settlement.
- Rohan Nichol as Weaver, a senior associate of Lucas and the Phoenix Group. He commanded the mercenary forces that invaded Terra Nova in the season finale. Thereafter he returned to 2149, but was slain by a juvenile Carnotaurus brought to the future by Jim.
- Sam Parsonson as Hunter Boyce, a teenager that lives in Terra Nova and came on the 5th Pilgrimage. He is one of Skyes closest friends and is also one of her housemates. He was once injured by an Acceraptor a fictional species of theropod, and once contracted a 30-ft. tapeworm-like parasite of which he was relieved by Elisabeth and Skye.
"Purely as an exercise in Can I write something my dad would like?", Kelly Marcel produced a treatment for Terra Nova while working in Prime Time Video, a video rental shop in Battersea. After her agent booked her a fortnight in Los Angeles pitching to American networks from out of a fleabag hotel, she received an offer to write a 13-episode season at $300.000 a show, which Marcel refused. She was just unsure it was what she wanted to write, a fear more certain after producer Steven Spielberg proposed that the series should involve dinosaurs. Instead, she simply sold the idea and returned to London.
Alex Graves signed on to direct the pilot. Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria serve as showrunners. Australia was chosen after Spielberg vetoed Hawaii because he wanted a different filming location from his 1993 film Jurassic Park. The two-hour pilot was filmed over 26 days in late November to December 2010. It was shot in south-east Queensland, Australia, with locations in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and the Gold Coast Hinterland, namely Bonogin. The shoot was plagued by torrential rain and additional material had to be shot in 2011, with a total estimated cost of US$14 million to be amortized over the season. More than 250 sets were constructed. An episode took from eight to nine days to shoot, like most television dramas, but six weeks in post-production, twice the television average at the time. The average episode budget was about $4M, not including Australian tax breaks, compared to an average of $3M for broadcast network dramas. Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly stated: "This thing is going to be huge. Its going to take an enormous production commitment."
In an unusual decision, Fox skipped ordering just a pilot, and instead immediately ordered thirteen episodes. This was partly due to financial reasons, as the large Australian sets are expensive to dismantle and rebuild. Despite this decision, the producers denied the production was over-budget, with Peter Rice explaining instead the show is "a very expensive. very ambitious television show". Kevin Reilly continued: "Were not in completely uncharted territory here. The start-up cost for the series is definitely on the high end. But its not some bank-breaking series." With only 10% of Cretaceous-era dinosaurs recorded in the fossil record, the producers decided to supplement the series with plausible fictional species; palaeontologist Jack Horner was invited to create realistic creatures for the period and different from those of the Jurassic Park film franchise.
In June 2010, the first cast member was announced – Jason OMara as Jim Shannon. In late August, Allison Miller joined the cast; playing the role of Skye Tate. In September 2010, Deadline Hollywood reported that Stephen Lang, who played a similar character in the 2009 film Avatar, signed-on to play a leading role of Commander Taylor.
An executive producer, David Fury, left the series as a result of creative differences. In September, Shelley Conn landed the female lead role. In October, Brian Tyler was chosen as the composer, Mido Hamada was cast as a security head, while Landon Liboiron, Naomi Scott, and Alana Mansour were cast as the three children. In November, Christine Adams was cast as Mira. In May 2011, Rod Hallett joined the cast.
The cast and crew returned to Queensland, Australia on May 20, 2011 to continue production on the first season. Filming commenced on May 25, 2011. With a long production process on the series, it was announced in July 2011 that the first season would consist of thirteen episodes to finish airing in December 2011.
Many of the weapons used in the show were reworked and repainted Nerf blasters.
3.1. Production Cancellation and motion comic
Shortly after the airing of the season one finale in December 2011, Fox Broadcasting stated that no decision would be made until 2012 regarding the continuation of the series. Fox announced the cancellation of Terra Nova on March 6, 2012. 20th Century Fox Television stated that it would try to sell the show to other networks. Following the decision 20th Century Fox entered negotiations with Netflix to possibly create a second season. However nothing ultimately came of this.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment set up a "video mashup" website where purchasers of the DVD can create a motion comic continuing the series. As of December 2013, the site was no longer active and redirects to Fox Movies.
Terra Nova was expected to premiere in the U.S. in May 2011 with a two-hour preview, but due to the time involved for visual effects, its pilot was moved to autumn late September 2011 to air with the rest of season one. In May 2011, Fox announced the series would air on Monday nights, and released a full trailer. Terra Nova premiered at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International on July 23, 2011. The Fox premiere drew 9.22 million viewers and 3.1 in the 18–49 demo in live plus same day results, rising to 4.1 in Live+3, the best result by a new drama. Terra Nova s high DVR gains were attributed to competition from Monday Night Football which, being a sports event, is less conducive to delayed viewing. In its second week on Fox, the show retained 100% of its demo rating 3.1, the best retention by a new series. Fox aired the entire first season consecutively on Monday nights, until its two-hour finale on December 19, 2011.
In Canada, Citytv simulcast every first-season episode; the Canadian premiere drew 1.4 million viewers, the largest audience for a drama in Citytvs history. In 2015, reruns began airing on Telelatino.
In Australia, where the series was filmed, Network Ten began airing the series within days of its U.S. release. In the UK and Ireland, digital channel Sky 1 broadcast the show from October 3, 2011.
5.1. Reception Critical reception
Early reviews indicated much promise in the series. In June 2011, Terra Nova was one of eight honorees in the Most Exciting New Series category at the Critics Choice Television Awards, voted by journalists who had seen the pilots. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette compared it to Outcasts. The Los Angeles Times wrote: "Easily the most exciting show of the fall season, Foxs Terra Nova has such obvious, instant and demographically diverse appeal." The New York Post called it "Good family fun", while USA Today wrote, "What matters are the dinosaurs, who – particularly in the first hour – are as convincing and startling as TV has ever offered, roaming a gorgeous, CGI-enhanced terrain." The Wall Street Journal wrote: Terra Nova leaves ye olde cheap-set series in the dust with production values that make each episode look cinematic." The Washington Post wrote, "Literally the biggest thing on TV this fall, Terra Nova has it all: time travel, misguided utopianism, Swiss Family Robinson-style cohesion and lots of hungry dinosaurs. Its all pretty dazzling."
Mid-season reviews were highly critical. Mark A. Perigard of the Boston Herald said that the series was Stargate Universe by Dr. Seuss. Sam Wollaston of The Guardian stated that there was only one interesting character and that "A lot of the fault lies with what they have to say to each other. The script is as corny and cheesy as a family-sized portion of cheesy corn nachos." New York magazine reviewer Chadwick Matlin vowed never to watch the show again, saying "Sure, the premise had promise, but even masochists like us can only take so much." But by the finale in December things had turned around again where critics were mostly pleased and enthusiastic. Entertainment Weekly called the season finale "exciting". The series first season received an aggregated score of 64% across 28 reviews from Metacritic.
5.2. Reception U.S. ratings
The first season averaged 7.52 million American viewers and a 2.5 rating in the 18–49 demographic. The show was ranked the #2 new drama among adults 18–49, the #1 new show among men 18–49, 18–34, and 25–54 and was one of the top 20 regular programs among teens, as of January 1, 2012.
6. Awards and nominations
In 2011, the series was honored, along with seven others, with the Critics Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series. Also, it won "Best Visual Effects in a Television Series" by the Visual Effects Society in 2011 and was also nominated for "Outstanding Created Environment in a Broadcast Program or Commercial."
7. Series DVD release
The series was released on a 4-disc DVD set on September 11, 2012. The set contains deleted scenes; bloopers; and featurettes including "Directors Diaries – Making the Pilot", an extended "Occupation/Resistance" episode with audio commentary from Stephen Lang, Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria, "Mysteries Explored", and "Cretaceous Life: The Dinosaurs of Terra Nova".