Terra Nova

“Terra Nova” can and should be known as one of the best TV series in the past few years, but it was unfortunately announced in the spring of 2012 that there will not be a third season.  Terra Nova is atypical within its science fiction drama genre because of the added twist that it primarily takes place 85 million years into the past. Initially set in the year 2149, the scene opens on the depressing state of the earth due to high levels of pollution and overpopulation. After discovering the ability to time-travel, scientists develop a way to escape the fate of the dying earth, which is to send groups of pilgrims into the Cretaceous period, where the air is clean and the soil is fertile. Thus begins the creation of the colony “Terra Nova,” which means “New Earth” in Latin. The colony is set in a stunning rainforest location but is run with modern technology imported from the future. The show centers on the Shannons, a family determined to stay together and protect each other. Unfortunately, the selection process for entrance into the colony is highly competitive, and pilgrims are chosen based on the value of the skills they have to offer. Elizabeth Shannon is chosen for her importance as a doctor and as a mother of three, her children are allowed to go with her. Her husband, Jim Shannon, is not selected for participation due to his criminal past of harboring a third child, which is a violation of the overpopulation laws. However, he manages to stow away after convincing authorities that his skills as a former cop will prove to be essential for protection in the new colony. Jim turns out to be right, because while the Cretaceous period might have clean air and plenty of space, it also comes with dangerous new (or should I say “old”?) predators: dinosaurs.

Aside from the beautiful setting—which is filmed on location in the tropical Brisbane area of Australia—and unique main premise, Terra Nova also offers a more politically intriguing subplot involving a sectarian faction known as “the Sixers”. The Sixers are a separatist group that branched off from the sixth migration of pilgrims, and their goal is to rob the new colony of its resources and send them back to the dying world in 2149 to sell to corporate industrialists. As the season progresses, the threat of the Sixers grows more and more serious as they repeatedly attack Terra Nova. Between the dinosaurs and the Sixers, Terra Nova has a significant job of protecting itself. This politically themed subplot, as well as the main premise of the show, is so interesting because of how relevant it is to the current times. The show is a fascinating and fantastical look at what might happen to the earth in the future if the ecological situation continues in a downward spiral (provided that time travel into the past eventually becomes an option). Thus, the show’s never-been-done-before yet relevant concept is its best feature.


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