Last year, Fox debuted Terra Nova, a TV drama produced by Steven Spielberg. It took place in a dystopian future where the Earth was dying. To survive the decay of civilization the government sent its citizens back in time to a prehistoric era when dinosaurs ruled the world. Once there, they had to re-build society and learn how to survive in this new world. It sounds awesome, right? Well, you’re wrong.
Terra Nova was a flop. It was the biggest and most expensive TV show of all-time. It premiered to a large audience but as time went on, their number and quality dwindled. It was eventually canceled as the show was just finding its identity.
The star of Terra Nova, Jason O’Mara, while doing press for his new show on CBS, Vegas, talked about what went wrong with the dinosaur show. The series had a strong international following but failed to live up to expectations in the States. But when a TV series becomes the most expensive TV series ever made, then a series has a responsibility to be profitable. O’Mara complains,
We were just finding our feet and I think we just proved that by the season finale,” he said. “There was a lot more story to tell and I think there was an audience to watch it, certainly internationally, the show went down extremely well, huge numbers. Just domestically I couldn’t quite get there.
Terra Nova was set up to be a show like ABC’s Lost or NBC’s Heroes, it was suppose to have a rich mythology with deep and likeable characters. But something is missing when you can’t get a genre audience excited about a show with dinosaurs, time travel and Stephen Lang. Terra Nova quickly became too cliché and riddled with TV tropes, namely with O’Mara’s on-screen angst filled, whiny teenage son, Josh (Landon Liboiron). O’Mara admits…
“I think there was a lack of clarity in terms of when the mythology needed to kick in. The first few episodes were strangely standalone and I think the mythology needed to kick in right from that second episode and onwards,” confessed O’Mara. “We needed to commit to the fact that it was going to be a LOST-like mythological series and not apologize for it.”
Even with a cool premise, Steven Spielberg and dinosaurs, Terra Nova was deeply flawed when it came to its storylines and characters. Maybe if the producers spent their money on a solid writing staff rather than special effects, then maybe Terra Nova wouldn’t have gone extinct.