Monday, July 8, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Terra Nova - The Complete Series

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Fun enough when I was watching
Cons: Mediocre, so not really compelled to come back to it.
The Bottom Line
Not good and not bad
Mildly entertaining
About all I can say




"One Minute I Was in 2149.  The Next I Was Here."

Every TV season, I swear I'm not going to get involved in another new TV show.  And every year, I wind up starting several.  One of those this year was Terra Nova.  The premise sounded interesting, so I just had to give it a try.  Per my usual idea, I gave it a few weeks before I decided on it one way or the other.  Ultimately, I stuck it out, but it wasn't my favorite show of the season.

In 2149, humanity has destroyed Earth, and existence is harsh and bleak.  But into this dark future comes a ray of hope.  Commander Nathaniel Taylor (Stephen Lang) has discovered a portal that takes him back 85 million years into the past.  He's found a world that is fresh, clean, and full of dinosaurs.  Slowly, Earth begins sending others on a one way trip to join him and start rebuilding our society.

Our portal into this world is the Shannon family, led by Jim and Elizabeth (Jason O'Mara and Shelley Conn).  They are part of the most recent pilgrimage thanks to Elizabeth being a doctor.  Of course, they have to break Jim out of prison first, a place he was sent because they had a third child, a crime in the future.

When they arrive, they learn that things aren't as idealistic as they had thought.  Dinosaurs are a real problem, and everyone has to stay in the settlement overnight.  Someone out in the jungle is also a group known as the Sixers, a band that came through during the sixth pilgrimage that is out to destroy everything Taylor has set up.  Will the Shannon's adapt to their new home?  Will the colony survive the plots of the Sixers?

This was always a weird show for me.  I enjoyed it while I was watching it, but I always put off watching it until I'd finished the rest of the shows on my DVR.  I liked the characters, but I never found the show super compelling.

Many people complained about how the show focused on the Shannons too much.  Personally, I liked this family and found them a good way to get involved in the world the show was creating.  However, I can see their point since the characters and the storylines they had pretty much felt recycled.  I know there is nothing new on TV, but this just wasn't compelling.

More compelling was the storyline involving the Sixers since that involved some intrigue and a secret or two that wasn't obvious right from the start.  Still, that part of the story was in the background for many of the episodes, so it wasn't enough to keep things going.

The show was also decried for the poor special effects.  Occasionally, I liked the dinosaurs we saw on screen, but most of the time I'll agree they were not that believable.  Still, with the time crunch of a TV show and a limited budget (money doesn't stretch as far on a weekly TV show as some people seem to think), I'll give this one a pass.

The acting was certainly good.  You could tell the actors were trying to breath as much life into their characters as they could.  I never doubted anything I saw on the screen.  I just wish they had better material to work with.

As I said, I stuck it out for all 13 episodes, and I will admit that they threw some stuff in during the finale that certainly would have brought me back if they had been picked up for season two.  I also feel like these episodes were the beginning of something bigger - introducing the characters and creating the world so they could tell the stories they really wanted to tell.  Alas, we'll never know if I was right.

This DVD set contains all 13 episodes of the show in wide screen and full surround.  They certainly take advantage of the surround sound, too.  Extras include a few behind the scenes featurettes, one on the dinosaurs and one on making the pilot, for example.  There's an extended version of the two part finale as well as a commentary on it, plus additional deleted scenes and a gag reel.

I really do feel that Terra Nova could have been more, and maybe I kept watching hoping it would achieve that.  As it stands, it was never quite as bad as everyone said it was, but it wasn't really that good either.

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