I was only ten when I heard about Jurassic Park. I’d been avid dinosaur lover with a great collection of dinosaur toys (including a T-Rex with a saddle that my little toy caveman could ride). I begged my mom to let me read the book so I would be prepared to see the movie. Finally she looked at me and said, “I don’t know. It has dinosaurs eating babies. Are you prepared for that?” In my head I saw people offering up babies to dinosaurs who’d reach over the fence and snack on tender infant flesh straight out of the hands of the parents.

I kept thinking of that crystalline childhood memory while watching Terra Nova. It made me feel like that little ten-year old all over again. Terra Nova has this sense of childlike wonder. It’s like a child sat down and plotted things out. Time travel! Sonic guns! Dystopian futures! DINOSAURS! This isn’t the cerebral science fiction we’ve been spoon fed for more than ten years. This is pulp science fiction. Something you find in cartoons or comics or in forgotten short story anthologies from the forties.

It’s big and fun and epic and scope.

And with all that gee whiz adventure comes the bad of pulp. The thinly drawn characters and simple plots. But honestly? Who cares. DINOSAURS people. Week after week if you tune into Terra Nova you get DINOSAURS.

You also get a character so irritating Wesley Crusher was thinking about hopping back 85 million plus years to off him.

I don’t know when the world decided that obstinate teenage boys with daddy issues should be a thing but they should stop right now. Every time this kid opened his mouth to be mad at his dad or flirt with a pretty girl the action stopped. His plotline felt perfunctory and, more importantly, it was hella hella boring. His sisters got off slightly better, but only because they’re rarely in the pilot and one of them is a super genius.

The real heart of the show is found in the parents. And while some bits of their relationship strained credulity (after two years apart he opts to sleep on the couch instead of with his wife? I SCOFF.) they were, for the most part, a loving couple who happily trust in one another. The show starts not with him unilaterally deciding to break out of prison to be with his family, but with her seeking him out and smuggling in tools and feeding him a plan–to break out of prison and be with his family.

Communication!

We don’t often get genre TV with a loving couple at the center of things. Usually one’s a widow, or they’re separated or divorced or have amnesia or dead or SOMETHING. To have a nice, loving couple who share responsibilities and communicate openly? WONDERFUL. And not devoid of drama. They still disagree on things…probably because they’re in a land full of DINOSAURS. When you have dinosaurs you don’t need high concept relationships.

I wish I had more to say. I wish I could talk about Stephen Lang or Allison Miller or Christina Adams and how they’re the ethically grey characters with SECRETS. Or how diverse the extras are. Or how the “sixers” are almost all black and that’s a little alarming. Or how the show sometimes feels like Lost via Outcasts. But honestly, this is a show about people battling dinosaurs each week. I don’t need anything more.


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