Terra Nova is the epitome of “high-concept.” When word started to spread about the show, it seemed like it was using all of the key words to hook us: time-travel, dinosaurs, futuristic society, Steven Spielberg. If there was one thing the series did not seem to be, it was simple. But where Terra Nova didn’t quite excel over the course of its inaugural season was its fleshing out of everything it presented to us. Combine that with the fact that the series still doesn’t have a second season order and we’re forced to wonder: can Terra Nova really work as a continued series?
Last night’s season finale leaves us with a cliffhanger, but we wonder if it’s one that will ever be satisfied. Beyond the initial thrill of the concept of humans living among dinosaurs, we don’t get a lot. The science-fiction aspects are swept under the rug. The human interest aspect is played up, but we’re never given much of a reason to invest in the characters. Terra Nova’s most interesting moments actually came from its inspections of the politics and ideologies of the society, but we’d need more of this to really hang our hats on it.
Most of what Terra Nova gives us is surface value. There isn’t much to the huge-selling dinosaur aspect other than the fact that occasionally, we get to see a dinosaur (pretty infrequently, actually). Coming from the man who made the greatest dinosaur movie there ever was, we should have expected more. Terra Nova’s corrupt governments and hostile takeovers filled the pilot, finale and a few odd episodes in between, but everything surrounding this was primary filler material. We got some very basic television drama stories: the amnesia episode, the not-who-he-says-he-is episode, the trapped-in-a-small-location episode. All the while, it seems as though we’d have been better served learning about how the past and future worlds can coexist, the inherent flaws in a society run by one man, or how the world of the 2100s came to be the way it was.
The season did have its higher points. The idea of a mole in society was interesting. The delicate relationship between a previously imprisoned father and his three children seemed like ready material for stories in the Shannon household. But Terra Nova seems to embrace so fondly the “everything should work out neatly” mentality, which sort of robs the characters who might otherwise be interesting of some of their value.
We might be seeing a second season of Terra Nova—the decision has not yet been made. But if we do, hopefully the series will work toward enriching its characters, its world, and the laws of its reality, and not just kind of pass the time with stories about Zoe’s school play until the explosion-filled finale.
Does anyone think Terra Nova can carry a second season? What might it have in story for adventures to come?