New! Review of Terra Nova:American Series on Sky 1 Monday nights 8pm October 2011

Re-posting this today as it was posted several days ago & mysteriously disappeared..

Rough draft-may tidy up but time constraints constrict your writer at present..

My original thoughts on watching the first two episodes of Terra Nova were this:

Terra Nova is pretty rubbish. Watch it if you are into Computer Generated something(?!) C.G.I dinosaurs. (boy that’s hard to spell)

nb. i did miss the very first bit of the first episode where the characters are seen in the dying world far in the future. A world choking on pollution and in which you can only have two children. The husband and wife are the main characters with the wife being some vague Doctor and the husband a Cop.

The cop husband is for reasons unknown (insubordination perhaps) locked up in prison. I guess the prisons in the future can’t be very well made or run since the husband manages to break out of prison and find the couple’s illegal third child, pop her in his backpack and somehow miraculously pop through an amazing time portal that has been created in order to transport some people of future earth back in time to earth 80 million years ago.

The Cop husband pops through the time portal because his wife and other two (legal) children have won an earth lottery to go back in time through the time portal. The idea of going back 80 million years is to start again with a new settlement of people and possibly give the earth a new chance…

So far so good. Sounds interesting doesn’t it? I should add that Terra Nova is Spielberg’s production and is based on a story called ‘Return to Gondwanaland’ by a British writer. Spielberg bought the story, never met the writer and ran with it. Reportedly having 70-80 odd million dollars to play with per episode.

i knew what a lamentable mess Spielberg’s Falling Skies was in much the same vein, future apocalypse, however same good ‘Ole frontier values and huge bucket loads of hallmark moment saccharine heaved over all of it.

Plus rather repellent sexism throughout. Think old Westerns where the little woman has to stay at home and every now and then pleads with her man:
“please, (insert name) don’t go”!
“I have to go, (insert name) he says gruffly”..
and off he goes since he has a Mission, a very important one you see. Mostly protecting the womenfolk and children.
“Daddy, Daddy, please don’t go”! says (insert name) small /teenage child.
“Stay and look after your sister..”
he replies forever gruffly, off to smoulder a lot, brood on his nemesis and polish his favourite gun…

Anyway, i Falling skies, which could have been so good and especially with such a budget, Terra Nova too, with an even bigger budget sounds interesting, right? wrong.. The characters are boring. In looks, expression and certainly in terms of their acting abilities. They just cannot emote. All together in stills from the show they look like a gathering of models just about to walk onto a catwalk..

All the cast appear to be Spielberg’s required white and a very few the very palest brown. Never anybody darker than that. Everybody carefully brunette though. They all look like clones. eg.Would the featured family unit of Cop, Doctor wife and three children, really look so damned alike?

You see in the future, or in the past, it seems that for Spielberg pretty much everybody is white. The Doctor wife of the Cop being the very palest brown to show a wee bit of inclusivity to tick a box somewhere. Apparently black people just didn’t make it.

Oh, but i forgot the baddies. The renegades:the “Sixers”. Not explained. Other than they live outside the jolly compound which has amazing all mod-cons. Yes, the compound looks, as one reviewer put it: “like Centre parcs” which is a British upmarket expensive holiday camp. It even has a “Px”. A fully stocked militarily named supermarket. (The name ‘Px’ being what such a shop is called on a military base.)

The Sixers are bad and attack the wholesome whiteys with their frontier/hallmark lifestyle. The Sixers are led by a snarling and beautiful, wait for it, black lady with stereotypical Mad Max dreads. Groan. Why do baddies in the future have to have extra-long dreads?

i read a review of Terra Nova which said that all the cast “seemed to have been recruited from Abercrombie and Fitch” which sums it up very nicely.

nb.The word Gondwanaland from the story ‘Return to Gondwanaland’ refers to the name of the world 80 odd million years ago when all land masses were joined together.

The only good thing about Terra Nova is the slightly dishy husband who looks permanently surprised and so stiff of face that it’s hard to tell what’s going on with him. Mostly maybe that he has wandered in from another film where he was doing something impossibly cool which required him to have no expression. Perhaps he was just driving a car in an oh so avant garde TV car ad or a shaving Ad. Never mind.. he’s ok in my book. Like a young newbie Marlborough man.

The scene where Cop husband chops giant tendril weeds from the mile high compound perimeter fence with a sword (not explained why weeds are giant and arm thickness) then falls off in fright when he sees a giant caterpillar but is ok even though he fell several stories high was quite funny. So was Cop husband shouting to nobody in particular (since he was the only one on weed detail) that he was ok. Likewise funny was him sitting astride the top of the fence with no shirt on yelling into the air that “I can do this!”

Guess you didn’t last long, Cop husband, until the sexist fairy came along and demanded your so many minutes was up and time to take your shirt off. Like all over 18 American men with deemed presentable chests and stomachs..

Still, as i guessed, this lone and rather dangerous weeding job with a sword was just some kind of test. Funny that a place that had invented a time machine, had a Px/supermarket in the middle of a desolate 80 million year old land mass hadn’t figured out how to deal with weeds beyond a man with a sword. i did wonder.

Yes, sure enough, a twinkly eyed, stern faced, slightly odd accented white haired Boss man comes along and announces that our hero Cop has been chosen to be in his Security Detail. The accent is so strange i’m guessing it’s American doing what they think is Scottish.

In spite of only having swords for weeds there is, of course, an impressive Command Centre with multiple screens, huge firepower as per Spielberg’s beloved theme. That is the theme of blatting and shooting and killing things with every kind of big fat gun thing imaginable. As you do..

Also as per Spielberg’s Falling Skies: unaccountably the frontier types in Terra Nova (the men that is except for one lone male scientist) in the Security Detail all wear military uniform, talk military talk and act like they’re engaged in World War III. Some have fetching Storm Trooper style exaggerated shoulder pad epaulettes. Just to show they are really from the future.

Why the military paraphernalia and lifestyle is necessary is never clear. Beyond a rather icky feeling of severe jingoism coupled with patriotism. Just like in Falling Skies. Why? is this the only way to maintain order and keep control? Methinks the Brits would have done it in a rather more laid back way..

The only thing that kept me watching was the admittedly silly notion that this really was 80 million years ago and how cool was that? (depending on how you view things on Tv) Plus the interesting inscriptions of carved “runes” that we see by the waterfall. Secretly hoping all the while that we might meet a prehistoric man who had carved these fascinating inscriptions. Lurking somewhere in the undergrowth.

I know, i forgot there wasn’t any then, but prehistoric man would have been more interesting than this lot. A bit disappointingly it turns out that these inscriptions are being carved by the steely eyed Boss man’s long lost son who disappeared from the compound years ago. But why? Who knows. he is doing it to wind his Dad up or something. The waterfalls is verboten to go near on the Boss’s orders. Gee, how mysterious. All very ‘Lost’ series like.

However the scenery is fabulous. i wonder where it really is? i guess you could learn a lot about dinosaurs if you are interested. Myself i never understood what was so damn exciting about dinosaurs. Yes, they were big. Had lots of teeth. Some flew. Some didn’t and were almost Disney friendly according to Spielberg:lifting young wee clone girl gently up off the ground. However the dinosaurs are all dead now. We didn’t evolve from them. End of story..

allright, not quite, since there are a few more stories to tell of extremely silly episodes and how the Boss man of the Security (whose name i will find out) really grew on me and how he became far and away the funniest part of the show….

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