Produced by Steven Spielberg and packed with showy computer-generated dinosaurs, Terra Nova may well be fall's most hyped new drama. The two-hour pilot, which airs Monday night at 8 p.m. on Fox and is rumored to have cost $20 million, introduces the Shannons, a family toiling in a grim, dystopian Chicago in the year 2149. When dad runs afoul of the law, the family abruptly joins an expedition that's time-traveling 85 million years into the past to save the human race from extinction. The Shannons' "new" colony, Terra Nova, is populated with an ambitious leader, a clan of rebels, and the aforementioned dinos. Does the pilot deliver on the hype, not to mention that hefty bill?
It's "easily the most exciting show of the fall": Terra Nova covers a lot of ground — dystopian epic, family drama, creature thriller — that should appeal across demographics, says Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times. And its many "narrative threads" are woven together in a "remarkably clean way." People will tune in for the visually stunning, towering dinos, but stay for the fascinating tale of a family making a new start in an unpredictable world.
"Terra Nova: Television review"
It's both tech-savvy and effectively old-fashioned: For all the revolutionary visual effects, Terra Nova is the fall's "most old-fashioned series," says Mike Hale at The New York Times. But while its family dynamic may evoke Swiss Family Robinson, that doesn't mean it's boring: Wringing drama and suspense from an otherwise formulaic family soap opera "is a Spielberg hallmark." Bonus: The dinosaur attack scenes are "longer, more complex and more suspenseful than the usual TV action sequences."
"A fierce primordial land holds mankind's only hope"
The dinos rock — but the show ultimately disappoints: Unquestionably, says Jonathan Storm at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Terra Nova is a triumph of modern technology. For all its visual effects, however, the series ignores a tool that's "been available to storytellers for 2,000 years… compelling character development." I found the dialogue cliched, the plot flat. It's doubtful the series will ever be as exciting as the pilot's first dinosaur cameo.
"Terra Nova: Time-travel tale with a dose of dinosaurs"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- Why is the Pentagon stuffing caves in Norway full of tanks?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- An open letter to #brands about Gamergate
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- Secret Service stretched mission to protect employee, report finds
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
Subscribe to the Week