Why TERRA NOVA Is Not LOST, Details From The TCA

We’ve posted plenty of pretty pictures illustrating what Terra Nova will look like, but yesterday also saw the executive producers and cast sit down to convince the press that this show has (dinosaur) legs.

Head past the jump to find out why Terra Nova is not Lost, and much more from Tuesday’s Television Critic’s Association preview. (may contain spoilers for some).

The first footage from Terra Nova was shown, and while it hasn’t found its way online, EW have kindly outlined what they saw:

The trailer introduced a dystopian future, where the Shannon family (Jason O’Mara is the dad) wear breathing masks, lining up for “the final shuttle to Terra Nova” — an Earth colony set 85 million years in the past. Once they stroll through a bright light tunnel, they arrive in the past at a fenced-in compound that’s surrounded by dense Pandora-like tropical forest and at least one towering waterfall. The Shannon family is greeted by the rugged Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang, the bad guy in Avatar, and yes, you are correctly sensing a trend here).

At first, everything’s all prehistoric Blackberry-free bliss. The Shannon family hangs out in their new eco-friendly homestead breathing clean air with solar panels on the roof. “We’re starting over as a family,” etc.

Then… an attack!

Characters get violently yanked from view. Guns are drawn. Colonists speed off in The Lost World-style armored tumbler trucks. Danger! Excitement! And finally, here comes the show’s tagline: “There is no paradise without sacrifice.” Boom, take that, Shannon family.

Terra Nova Promotional Photos

Here’s what else we can take-away (courtesy of details shared by IGN):

  • The lush green Australian setting is “extremely attractive”.
  • None of the SFX are done yet.

EP Brannon Braga describes the core premise as, “Earth is essentially dying – most animal life is extinct. They’re hoping to re-start humanity through this time fracture they’ve discovered.” Within that, the characters hope that recolonizing the planet in the past, will have a positive effect on the future.

How will this effect the timeline? Wont it screw things up for man and dino? BUTTERFLY EFFECT!? HELLO!

Said Braga, “Time line issues we don’t want to get into now.”

Personally, I hope the shows decision to go back to a time before mankind existed is given rightful detailing. The audience doesn’t have to agree with the ethics or morals that are raised (perspectives will always differ), as long as it’s interesting and not taken as a given. Braga says the important thing is that the characters are “hoping for a second chance.”

Also close to their chests is how they’ll handle the asteroid that wipes out a large portion of the Earth around 20 million years later. What will be the show’s logic for going back in time with this event looming over neo-humanity? “In the show, they’re acutely aware of that fact, and have a plan in mind,” Braga said.

  • The show will contain elements of suspense.
  • The story is centered around the Shannon family.
  • It’s “not a scary show” (I hope that doesn’t mean it’s watered-down either).
  • Director Alex Graves promises we’ll, “see dinosaurs you haven’t seen before.”
  • Including some made-up dinosaurs – “filling in some blanks” in dinosaur history.

Avatar’s Stephen Lang (whose character some websites are now reporting being named Nathaniel Taylor, rather than Frank) revealed the following about his character:

  • Taylor may be perceived as the antagonist to Jim Shannon. But it’s not as simple as that.
  • Taylor was the first to go back to prehistoric earth and survived four months by himself.

Lang explains:

“For seven years he’s been fathering, shepherding this community. His personal investment and caring is so deep that it can play havoc sometimes with your perspective. You know that there are going to be disagreements on how things will be resolved. In a situation like this, it’s not really a democracy at all. There’s bound to be people who disagree with the decisions and cast Taylor in their own eyes as a bad guy; as a villain.”

Though he does point out that Taylor”s idealism, “can spill over into a zealousness that can have all kinds of repercussions.”

Personally, I can’t wait to see Taylor and Mira (leader of a rival camp, played by Christine Adams) interact. For me, they are two of the more interesting characters.

As for Steven Spielberg‘s involvement, Braga said, “he’s very involved. Every idea this guy comes up with, and I’m not just blowing smoke, is ingenious.” EP Rene Echevarria added that Spielberg was informed of, “every key hire. Casting. Special effects.” While Graves confessed, “part of the terror of directing this is [Spielberg’s] watching everything you do.”

As for comparisons with Lost and other such shows? Alex Graves wasn’t having it, saying that Nova is “so made for a massively broad audience, I cannot tell you.” He claims that while Lost was made for a specific audience, “Terra Nova, more than anything I’ve ever done in my life, is for everybody.” I’m not sure I quite get that. In the beginning (before Darlton removed the curtain), I’d say that Lost reached out to a fairly broad audience. Though I guess he means that inherently the show will set out on a path that makes it family friendly? Kinda like Jurassic Park?

What attracted Braga to the project? “It’s just a great concept. Philosophically, it’s the closest thing to Star Trek I’ve worked on since I read that show years ago. I wanted to gravitate back to a science-fiction premise with big, humanistic ideas.” He also found something warm and fuzzy about, “people from the distant future coming to the distant past.”

source: EW | IGN

Well, I’m still looking forward to Terra Nova. I know there’s reportedly been problems with budgets and whatnot, but I have a better feeling about this one than I did any of the new shows that launched in 2010 (UPDATE: and by that, I mean broadcast shows. Walking Dead was always a winner). Of course, that means nothing unless the show proves its worth – and that makes it interesting as a viewer. Over to you TN.

What do you think – do any aspects of Terra Nova appeal to you?

TERRA NOVA, starring Jason O’Mara, is an epic family adventure 85 million years in the making, follows an ordinary family embarking on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a massive experiment to save the human race. In the year 2149 the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and overpolluted. 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.

TERRA NOVA previews on Fox, 23rd and 24th of May 2011, before the 13-part series resumes in the fall.

TERRA NOVA is produced by Steven Spielberg and NewsCorp’s former President and COO Peter Chernin. Brannon Braga is executive producing.

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  1. mesa says

    The premise definitely interests me – I’m just weary to build up an appreciation for another ‘sci-fi’ setting show after the recent failures of FlashForward and The Event. I didn’t watch Life on Mars, but I enjoyed Lang’s acting in Avatar.

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