[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Sorry for the light blogging, but in the last few days I have been dealing with a plumbing emergency. You ever hear the term “sh*t happens”? Yeah, it’s been happening. Oy vey.
But in between breaks from dealing with that, I have been catching up on watching the new show Terra Nova. Probably the fact I fell behind is a bad sign for the show, because I could find myself barely caring from week-to-week what happened on it. I continue watching because frankly I could see how the show could suddenly become good, maybe even compelling, and I am hoping it does. (I remember, for instance, it took Star Trek: The Next Generation years before it got good.) But right now I am thinking that there aren’t nearly enough dinosaurs for a good “Jurassic Park: the Series” suggested by early promotions, and the human drama is just playing it a little too safe to create good human drama. If you go over to the great cutting edge dramas found on basic cable these days, you get a sense of the kinds of things that Terra Nova could be doing, but isn’t.
The premise of the show is actually kind of interesting. It starts in the future, when the whole Earth is screwed up with pollution (thus a little eco-propaganda slipped in), but someone has discovered a one-way time portal that leads people back to the age of dinosaurs on an alternate earth (avoiding time paradoxes). So people get the idea of starting a colony there to give humanity a fresh start on a new world. With velociraptors. The story centers on a policeman and his family who broke the law by having more than two children who breaks out of prison and sneaks back into the time portal to this new world. (It’s probably a bad sign that I can’t remember any of their names as I write this.) Which sounds like it could be really cool, with evocative language in the promos saying humans would be back in the food chain, etc. It suggests that they would be leading a meager existence struggling for their very lives against dinosaurs big and small and if we are lucky some human drama, too. But the show so far has never lived up to that potential and I think its failure can be summed up in one image:
Don’t bother with the characters and what they are doing, I want you to look at that house they are living in. This family goes 85 million years into the past to a colony that is around 8 years old, and then the moment they get through the wormhole they are given a home, completely free of charge, with the only deprivation being that two of the kids have to sleep in the same room because typically people expect families to have only two children (because of that two child law mentioned above). That’s it.
By comparison our sixteenth president was born in a building somewhat like this:
Seriously, look at that Terra Nova home again! Look at how ridiculously nice it is. It is nicer than my home. They are supposed to be living out in a new wilderness, and this place could be literally anywhere in suburbia (indeed, probably is on a sound stage in some Hollywood studio lot). When you watch people talking in a place like that you get absolutely no sense that nature is outside ready to crash in and kill them all. Everything feels a little too safe, even outside this home. In this sense it all reminds me of another Spielberg-produced TV show “Sea Quest” which had all the ingredients that should have made a great show, beautiful sets and excellent special effects and bored its audience to death in part because you never felt like anyone was in danger.
But the title of the post tells you that I don’t want to review the show generally as I just have, but instead I want to talk about a specific issue: whether Terra Nova is eco-fascist. It was watching last week’s episode “Vs” that really drove home this issue to me, so there will be a lot of spoilers concerning episodes over a week old. So we’ll continue below the break.