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Terra Nova: Spielberg’s Ambitious Journey to the Prehistoric Past

Terra Nova - Show Poster
One of the show’s posters.

Terra Nova … a show that deserved more than one season, for sure! It was a short-lived series that ran in 2011. This amazing show, executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, had a ton of potential, but unfortunately, it was wasted when it only lasted 1 season. The kids in the show are now over 10 years older, so bringing it back would be tricky unless they did even more time-travel shenanigans.

Since Spielberg had such a high spot in the team that was creating this show, it gave high expectations from the audience. Unfortunately, it did not get greenlit for more seasons. Terra Nova, and Chuck, are two of my favorite TV shows. The latter was almost canceled twice but saved by the fans. Why couldn’t the fans have saved Terra Nova, as well?!

Be warned, there are spoilers for this show ahead!

Terra Nova’s Premise

This show had a fairly unique concept. It was humanity’s escape to the Cretaceous period, to try to save the future. The main characters, the Shannon family, almost got separated by the authorities in the future timeline. They had to be sneaky to get their family together. Which most people completely understand. Most families want to stick together so they can be in contact at all times, whenever needed.

The future timeline was set in 2149, and the past timeline was in the “Cretaceous period.” They didn’t specify which part of the Cretaceous they were in, though. That is up to speculation. They mostly had fictional dinosaurs, named Slasher, Empirosaur, Gallusaur, and Ovosaurus. Some of the real dinosaurs they had included Brachiosaurus, Carnotaurus (though with some modifications), and pterosaurs.

Plot Highlights

Commander Nathaniel Taylor
Cmdr. Nathaniel Taylor

The show begins with the family in the future, where the Earth is in bad shape. The father was not included in the family’s ticket to the past, they had to sneak him through the portal so they could be together. Once in the Cretaceous period, they went to the town, aptly named Terra Nova.

The commander, Nathaniel Taylor, played by Stephan Lang, also played a military-type character in James Cameron’s Avatar. Here, he was a good guy doing his best to protect the residents of Terra Nova.

There is also a group of enemies called the Sixers. The motives were initially unclear, but they’re a constant threat throughout the show’s short run. Along with them, there’s also drama between a few of the families, too!

Visuals, Effects, and More

Back in 2011, the visuals for this show were pretty good. Though they’ve somewhat held up today, they could be better. They had high production values, with each episode costing around four million ($4,000,000) dollars! This was likely due to the elaborate setpieces, Special Effects, and the locations they filmed in. It was primarily shot in Queensland, Australia. More specifically, in the Brisbane and Gold Coast region.

If they rebooted the show, I would hope that they end up having Steven Spielberg produce again! That would allow it to have a similar feel to the original show. With streaming platforms allowing binge-watching these days, they could be rescued by platforms such as Netflix. They have been known to bring back niche shows, either with the original cast, or a new cast. In this case, they would likely need some replacement cast members, specifically the younger children in the show.

Terra Nova’s Reception, and Legacy

The premise of the show, mentioned above, was praised for its originality and potential but suffered from uneven writing. The visual effects at the time were generally impressive, but it was also very high-cost, for its short run. That 4 million dollars per episode likely contributed towards its unfortunate short end. With inflation costs, it would be closer to 4.8 – 5.2 million dollars per episode today.

In today’s terms, that wouldn’t be too different from the averages. Broadcast networks can do 3 million or more per episode, Cable dramas can reach up to 5 million per episode, and streaming services can sometimes spend 10 million or more per episode! It would likely be ‘affordable’ in today’s TV show industry.

The impact it had on fans, like Kenson, though, was much higher. The fans of the show all wanted another season or two to flush out the story, even if it didn’t go further than 1 or 2 extra seasons. Today, it remains a memorable and beloved show, though it was unfortunately cut short before it had a chance to take off.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, Terra Nova was a great show that got cut short too early, just like Firefly! Some amazing shows don’t get the chance that they deserve, and this was certainly one of those. I highly recommend giving the show some love. It’s unfortunately not available on any streaming platforms, though you can buy it on Prime Video (Disclaimer: Affiliate link), Apple TV, or Vudu.

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Kenson M

Kenson M

Owner of Mesozoic Haven since 2015, when it was previously known as Jurassic Kingdoms. Is a family-friendly content livestreamer and lives in Texas.View Author posts

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I kept wondering why they had Terra Nova to only stop at season 1. I really enjoyed the TV show and believed there was so many ways to expand the storyline but it never happened.

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