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A Brief (Pre) History on Steven Spielberg's 'Terra Nova' Series

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Aug 03, 2011 | 12:02pm EDT

Terra NovaEver since Fox's last huge high-concept narrative came to its amorphous end, the network has seemed a little empty. But this fall, science fiction will reteam with human drama in Terra Nova, a series about a family from a near-apocalyptic 2149 A.D. society that time-travels back before the days of human existence with the responsibility of retooling history in hopes of preventing the tumultuous dystopia their Earth has become. Up until recently, we knew little more than this synopsis about the series, which is being produced by Steven Spielberg. But new bits of information are now available as the pilot, set to air September 26, draws closer.

As this is a series that will involve, in large part, dinosaurs, Spielberg was very cautious about distinguishing Terra Nova from his outlandishly popular 1993 dinosaur hit, We're Back... I might be thinking of a different movie. The first step Spielberg took toward differentiating this series from the Jurassic Park movies was in making sure none of the dinosaurs in Terra Nova would be from the Jurassic period. Truth be told, most people wouldn't really know the difference, but the mere mention of the word "Jurassic" would send connotations a-flying. Spielberg also refused to shoot in Hawaii, as said location was the setting for JP. Instead, the futuristic family will find themselves experiencing prehistory in Australia.

Among Spielberg's other notes was the casting of Stephen Lang, Avatar's vein-bulging warhawk. Lang will be reprising his military career as a soldier in Terra Nova, but presumably a less antagonistic one. Spielberg further influenced the portrayal of a 2149 Earth with the inclusion of oxygen masks, as fresh air will have been depleted by that year (probably due to something like too much recycling).

On the topic of casting, the central family of the Shannons will be played by Jason O'Mara (escaped convict father), Shelley Conn (medical doctor mother), and Landon Liboiron, Naomi Scott and Alana Mansour as the children. As development of the project progressed, the show became more focal on the family as the main characters and as the emotional investment requested from audiences.

Although other networks were in consideration for the show, including CBS and SyFy, Fox beat out the bunch and will be presenting Terra Nova to eager Americans on September 26.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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