Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pilot Recap: Terra Nova

Last night I watched Terra Nova, which apparently was a big deal? Even my mum has heard of it. You know there is a lot of buzz when my mum has heard of a thing! Unfortunately my mum has not seen it, which is a pity because I would like to read her recap. Instead I should ask her to recap all the British murder mysteries she watches. They would all end with "and then I woke up and your father told me the suspicious under-gardener was the murderer."

Anyway. Dinosaurs and spoilers below!

The main characters in the show are a family, the Shannons: Jim and Elisabeth and their children Douchebag Josh, Super-Pretty Nerd Maddy and Illegal Zoe. They live on a boring version of the Blade Runner set where the air is all messed up and you're only allowed to have two kids because of overpopulation. But the Shannons have a third kid! Maybe this will be explained later in the series, but seriously, I think that it is pretty fair to ask people to "only" have two kids when the world is fucking falling apart. But I guess Americans are pretty keen on people not telling them how many babies and guns to have so that's OK. The kid is three which makes it pretty impressive that this lady managed to carry a child to term and then hide it for so long, especially considering she's a working doctor? Dad brings an orange home and everyone is super-happy. But then the Bad Cops come in to look for the illegal kid! Everyone freaks the fuck out even though we later find out that this would only mean a fine(!) except that the cops are rough with the kid so the dad attacks them and GOES TO JAIL. Good work, dad! Awesome for your family!

A couple of years later the doctor gets offered a place for herself and two of the kids in Terra Nova, 85 millions years ago through a rip in the space-time etcetera. She gives her husband (still in jail) a deus ex machina laser cutter. Suddenly he is out of jail! He goes and picks up a backpack. What could be in the backpack? Probably nothing important. He uses a deus ex machina ID card to sneak into the Terra Nova line. Apparently the rip in the space-time continuum is about as well-guarded as the post office, because he gets through. Then soldiers nearly shoot his backpack and everyone is like don't shoot the backpack and then he opens the backpack and the kid is in the backpack! This is treated like an unexpected reveal for some reason?

Terra Nova is run by a Grizzled Hard Ass. Jim wants to be a cop because he was a cop in the past-future but he gets put on gardening! He is pissed off, which I thought was pretty rich for someone who just got out of jail/cancertown. He falls off a wall, which is comedy. The little kid is shy of her dad and it looks for a moment as though there might be an exploration of the impact of absence on intimacy but that is quickly sidestepped in favour of big hugs. Then there is finally a dinosaur, and it is so disappointing that I want to turn the show off and watch Jurassic Park instead.

Douchebag Son Josh falls in with some Cool Teens and goes OTG (super-cool term for Outside The Gate) to go swimming in his clothes and drink moonshine. He is rebelling against his dad because he is mad at his dad for going to jail and also he is just like his dad who is a RISK TAKER. Like normal teens, they drink responsibly and spend most of their time industriously preparing fruit for fermentation. They have a jeep, which seems weird if they're trying to do this in secret. How did they get it out without anyone noticing? Also there are equations on the cliffs.

The doctor starts doing medicine despite having no training about the medical implications of the new world or the kind of medicine they practice here. Then a baddie steals a gun and runs around and Jim's cop sense tingles and he catches him as he tries to assassinate the Grizzled Hardass! Now he can be a cop. The guy with the gun was one of the Others the Sixers, a splinter group living on their own. The GH takes Jim out of the colony for no particular reason, which you would think people would avoid because of the obvious dangers. Then an obvious danger happens! A Carnotaurus attacks the jeep. I get really excited because the Western Australian Museum has a huge reproduction of a Carnotaurus so I feel like I just saw one of my friends in a minor role. Sadly the Carnotaurus is defeated by sonic booms and doesn't get to eat anyone.

The drama continues though because the Sixers arrive and everybody points guns! They are led by a Sexy Hardass Lady. They want their dude back, and they trade uranium or something. Then they leave and steal the power somethings from the Cool Teens' jeep and then get eaten. The Cool Teens get stuck in a jeep with dinosaurs called 'slashers' trying to eat them. They fire machine guns at the slashers, which annoys them slightly. Hey The Future, invent better machine guns! One of the girls freaks out and runs into the jungle, which seems like an odd choice. The grown-ups are out looking for the kids and they find the hysterical girl, who has been attacked and is... slightly cut up? I guess the slashers got bored? Blah blah we have to make a run for it blah it's behind you blah blah dinosaurs. Family is reunited and then they look at the moon.

Some points:

1. I am getting sick of the female character who is ridiculously pretty but also smart and that makes her an awkward nerd. THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.

2. The CGI is.. okay. It's TV-level. It's hard to understand why it has famously cost so much and taken so long, though.

3. I there anything more boring than a protective cop dad and a nurturing doctor mum?

4. My favourite bit in the whole show is when the brother is out probably dying in the wilderness, the parents are out looking for him and in mortal danger, and the 'nerdy' daughter gets a visit from a hunky solider dude and she gets all excited. This is the most normal depiction of a teenager I have ever seen on TV.

So... dinosaurs, I guess?


  1. "The doctor starts doing medicine despite having no training about the medical implications of the new world or the kind of medicine they practice here. "

    Apparently they use prehistoric leeches to bloodlet? She is shocked to find a gigantic leech on her patient's back, and rather than ask someone about it, she just tears it off him.

    Makes sense.

    I also love that they explain that it's OK that they go back to this prehistoric time and start changing events because it's an alternative timeline, and fuck whatever course it would have taken - as long as our timeline remains preserved.

  2. Destroying parallel worlds for the hell of it on TV is so 2008.