Okay, I’m a big sucker for time travel stories … I’m a sucker for dinosaurs … and I’m a sucker for science fiction in general … but this series (based on what I saw of the first two episodes) is complete and utter unmitigated crap.  Had I known Brannon Braga was involved, I never would’ve even bothered with it.  Some thoughts on a show I’ve started calling Terrible Nova:

1) In a future society that equates overpopulation with extinction, why would they bother taking people who violated the overpopulation laws and throw them in prison?  That still leaves the society with an extra unwanted person using up the planet’s almost-gone resources.  It makes more sense that violating such laws in a Soylent Green-ish society would result in mandatory capital punishment for the offenders.

2) Breaking out of a maximum security prison and breaking into another maximum security facility is going to require a LOT more than one small fancy cutter-beam thingy.

3) They identified the “time fracture” as leading to 85 million years in the past.  And once they’re in the past, they talk about the probe that they originally sent through the time fracture … the probe that they never found again back in the future!  So … if they never found it again … and if the time fracture is a one way trip (there were references to “once you go through, you’re not coming back”) … then how did this future society actually know that the time fracture leads back into the past?  How do they know how far it leads back into the past?  The fact that they know anything implies that there is some sort of two way communication between the future and the past, so it’s either not a one way trip or it’s not an “alternate timestream.”   [I wrote that before Stephen Lang’s character confirms in the second episode that yes indeed they can communicate back with the future.]

4) “Alternate timestream” my ass. That’s Brannon Braga’s piss poor stoopid attempt at sci-fi exposition.  Dumbass.

5) Now, if the time fracture really does connect to 85 million years in the past — and this has been the real selling point of the series as far as Fox’s marketing hype is concerned — then FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET YOUR DINOSAURS RIGHT!  85 million years ago was the tail end of the Cretaceous period.  Allosaurs and brachiosaurs lived about 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic period.  Triceratops lived at the end of the Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago.  When my fourteen year old son is disgusted that they got something that fundamentally important wrong, you know there’s a serious problem with the show.  Unless you want to use the “alternate timestream” crutch as an excuse for “getting your science wrong.”  In that case, it becomes exactly that: a crutch and an excuse.

6) As part of the camp’s defense, are those supposed to be sonic weapons up on the walls?  They appear to fire a coherent blast of something … but they recoil?  A sonic cannon would NOT recoil.  I have enough trouble imagining it creating a visible coherent blast of something, but I cannot envision it recoiling.  Yes, it’s nice and dramatic to watch, but when you start thinking about it, it’s just … stoopid.

7) Okay, they are the new frontier, right?  Blazing new trails for humanity, right?  85 million years in the past, right?  No roads there (until they take the time and effort to build them), right?  Then why is it that ALL of their vehicles are four-wheelers with tires?  I’d expect them to focus on tracked vehicles, since tracked vehicles can handle rough unhewn terrain far better than wheeled vehicles.  Nope.  Stoopid.

8) Why couldn’t they just play the premiere more straightforward?  Why bother introducing the other camp this soon?  Why bother introducing the whole “leader’s son went off the deep end and knows the REAL truth” this soon?  Focus the first episode wholly on the changes the family needs to make in adjusting from the repressive future society to the repressive Terra Nova camp.  Then take your time with more subtle introductions of the other aspects of the story across subsequent episodes to build up the intrigue.  Characters first, concept second.  Develop characters we care about first, then let the characters sell us the concepts.

9) Most importantly, there’s not a single character that I find likeable or sympathetic on the show.  They could all be torn to bits or eaten alive and I honestly would not give a damn.  Actually … that would be a nice bit of Must See TV … a very special Terra Nova …..

Now I will take a moment to point out two things I think they did right.  The first time I saw how the camp was laid out, I immediately wanted it to be ravaged by a flock of pterosaurs — it appears to be nicely defended against ground critters, but it’s completely vulnerable from the air.  Lo & behold, that’s exactly what happens in the second episode … only the pterosaurs are too small and nowhere near deadly enough.  And it was nice to see them address the increased oxygen content of the past atmosphere, having the medical teams stand by to take care of that when the people first come through the stargate … er … “time fracture.”

So here we have Avatar meets Land Of The Lost.  Honestly, I think the original Land Of The Lost series was a lot more intelligent and better written than Terra Nova.