Terra Nova

Steven Spielberg's Doomed Dinosaur TV Show

In February of 2010, word leaked out that Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg was developing a new dinosaur-themed TV series, Terra Nova. There was a huge amount of anticipation, followed by a huge letdown as the series met with mixed critical notices. Here's a timeline of this (mercifully brief) drama.

March 6, 2012: Terra Nova, RIP

After months of suspense, Fox finally announced that it's cancelling Terra Nova after just one season.

Here's a 10-point analysis of why .

September 26, 2011: Terra Nova Debuts

Fox has finally aired the two-hour Terra Nova premiere. Here's an analysis of the dinosaurs of Terra Nova, which will be updated every week as new episodes air.

March 14, 2011: Terra Nova Debut Pushed Back to Fall

Well, dinosaurs haven't been around for 65 million years, so what's another four or five months when it comes to a dinosaur-themed TV show? The latest word from Hollywood is that Terra Nova production difficulties have pushed back this show's two-hour premiere to the fall of 2011, rather than May. Sorry, dinosaur fans!

November 5, 2010: Terra Nova Writers Face Extinction

According to an impeccable source--The Onion A.V. Club, which, unlike the rest of this parody newspaper, bases its entertainment articles on actual facts--Terra Nova's "show runner," Brannon Braga, has fired the entire writing staff. Still, this may not be as ominous a development as it appears: the fact is that productions delays in actually shooting this highly anticipated show have resulted in most of the writers idling around, twiddling their Jurassic thumbs.

The two-hour premiere of Terra Nova is still set for May, with the full series kicking off in the fall of 2011.

August 9, 2010: Australian Location for Terra Nova?

The latest news in the blogosphere is that Steven Spielberg has settled on (or is about to settle on) Australia as the shooting location for Terra Nova.

Nearby New Zealand made a dramatic backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so if Australia has equally breathtaking ravines, crags, valleys, etc., this sounds like an excellent idea. (Of course, it couldn't hurt that shooting costs in Australia are much cheaper than they'd be in the U.S.!)

June 6, 2010: The Terra Nova Synopsis

Here's the official synopsis of Terra Nova, straight from Fox:

In the year 2149 the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and over-polluted. With the majority of plant and animal life extinct, devotion to science has brought mankind to the brink of destruction, but has also provided its only hope for salvation. Knowing there is no way to reverse the damage to the planet, a coalition of scientists has managed to open up a fracture in the space-time continuum, creating a portal to prehistoric Earth. This doorway leads to an amazing world, one that allows for a last-ditch effort to save the human race … possibly changing the future by correcting the mistakes of the past.

The series centers on the Shannon family as they join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to TERRA NOVA, the first colony of humans in this second chance for civilization. JIM SHANNON, a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new land of limitless beauty, mystery and terror.

Jim's wife, ELISABETH SHANNON, is a trauma surgeon chosen through a global lottery as a new addition to Terra Nova’s medical team. JOSH SHANNON is their son, mourning the girl he left behind, as he’s torn between two role models - his father and the charismatic COMMANDER FRANK TAYLOR, the leader of the settlement, and the heroic first pioneer through the time portal. MADDY SHANNON, Jim and Elizabeth’s teen daughter, is as independent and adventurous as her parents, but her distrust of authority soon leads her on a dangerous path.

In addition to blue skies, rolling rivers and lush vegetation, TERRA NOVA offers new opportunities and fresh beginnings to its recent arrivals, but the Shannons have brought with them a familial secret that may threaten their citizenship in this utopia. Additionally these adventurers soon discover that this healthy, vibrant world is not as idyllic as it initially appears.

The areas surrounding Terra Nova are filled with dangerous dinosaurs, and other prehistoric threats, as well as external forces that may be intent on destroying this new world before it begins.

But perhaps even more threatening than what lies outside the protective walls is the Shannons' realization that something sinister may be happening inside TERRA NOVA as not everyone on this mission has the same intentions of how best to save mankind.

May 17, 2010: Terra Nova Splash Looks an Awful Lot Like "Avatar"

As Terra Nova moves closer to its fall TV premiere, the producers have just unveiled the series' "concept art" (that is, the scenic splash, complete with title, that helps viewers visually identify the show). And guess what? The craggy, blue-tinged peaks and valleys below the Terra Nova logo look unnervingly like Pandora, the alien world of James Cameron's mega-movie Avatar. Is this intended as a subtle tribute, or a bit of subliminal rabble-rousing? Inspect the picture above and decide for yourself!

April 21, 2010: Terra Nova Production, Staffing News

According to Collider.com, Terra Nova has reached an important watershed: The Fox Network has (not quite officially, but close enough) ordered 13 episodes of the dinosaur-themed show, and has given executive producers Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin the green light to begin staffing up with writers, directors, producers and (not incidentally) actors.

Apparently, Brannon Braga--well-known from his long experience writing and producing for the various Star Trek series, as well as the last two years of 24--has signed on as a Terra Nova producer, and Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights is being considered for the lead.

February 18, 2010: Steven Spielberg Behind New Dinosaur TV Show

Just as it's become increasingly clear that he'll have as little as possible to do with a fourth Jurassic Park movie (Joe Johnston is attached as director), Steven Spielberg now seems to be involved in an ambitious dinosaur-themed project with Fox TV. According to MovieWeb, Spielberg has been talking with Fox bigwigs about Terra Nova, a TV series in which an ordinary family is sent back in time 150 million years to the late Jurassic period. Terra Nova's special effects promise to be so advanced, says the MovieWeb blogger, that "there's been talk of greenlighting it directly to series production rather than a pilot because it would be too expensive to shut down and start up again during the downtime between pilot and episodic production."

This all sound well and good, but I'm not sure I would give Spielberg and Fox any points for originality. Anyone remember Sid and Marty Krofft's Land of the Lost, in which a chubby-cheeked nuclear family is zapped back to prehistoric times and mixes it up with various dinosaurs? (The less said about the recent Will Ferrell movie adaptation, the better). I doubt there'll be any Sleestacks in Spielberg's project, but just in case, he may want to cue up his DVD player and revisit this beloved piece of cheesy televisual history.