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the missed date between Avatar and Jurassic Park

The output of Jurassic World: The World After lets go back to the failure of the series Terra Nova which had everything to be a success: dinosaurs and Steven Spielberg.

Many of the big names in Hollywood have become producers dragging projects of shame, such as Peter Jackson and the failure in cinemas. Mortal EnginesJames Cameron and the belly Terminator: Dark Fate or even George Lucas and the ridiculous series Star Wars of the 80s. Spielberg is not spared either with the wobbly saga Jurassic Park that moves like a headless Raptoras evidenced by our criticism of Jurassic World: The World After. This is unfortunately not an isolated case for the director of Jaws who held in 2011 an ambitious story that ended in nanar, Terra Nova.

The project was crazy, surely too much, and created an excessive expectation at the time. I have to say that Terra Nova has something to make you want : to escape the end of humanity in a world without resources, the solution is to exploit a temporal breach which will send colonists to the Cretaceous among the dinosaurs. At the crossroads between Avatar (which had been released two years earlier), Jurassic Park and Back to the future, Terra Nova will be above all a terrible missed appointment for Spielberg, the producers of 20th Century Fox Television and especially the public.

Family first, dinosaurs maybe later

back to prehistory

The future is bad because of extreme globalized pollution, but thanks to a time rift transporting 85 million years back, humanity has a second chance. Fortunately, the breach does not lead to the past of our Earth, but to that of another dimension, this makes it possible to avoid a Butterfly effect risking to impact the future (on the other hand, they will probably screw up the future of a other humanity, but the series does not address this dilemma). Thus, the Shannon family passes through the portal – half of it clandestinely – and lands in Terra Nova, the human colony in the time of the dinosaurs led by Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang).

Terra Nova: photo, Stephen Lang, Jason O'Mara, Terra Nova“This is my mushroom corner.”

Far from being a camp struggling to repel the attacks of massive carnivores and surviving in a hostile jungle, Terra Nova is a Camping Paradise in a tropical zone where the routine of a civilized world persists. School, theater workshop, jealousy of an ex-lover, teenage love affair, running away to have a party in the woods, the atmosphere in the colony is not very exotic from modern society for pilgrims. A few dinosaurs sometimes come as a reminder that they exist, but they never steal the show from the real enemies of Terra Nova, the Sixers. These dreadlocked anarchists also come from a pilgrimage came from the future, but started their own faction after leaving the colony.

Filled with clichés about survivalists living in the woods and painting their faces to give themselves a tribal side, the Sixers will seriously piss off the good guys. Holidays in Prehistory then turn into a gang war for colony control. For Commander Taylor, Terra Nova is a new beginning for humanity. The Sixers, aided by Taylor’s son, instead want to harness the resources of the past to save the future. The evil Woodland Tribe eventually manages to take Terra Nova, but the heroes soon drive them out and even destroy the time portal. All ties with the future are severed and survival finally begins… but the series ends.

Terra Nova: photo, Christine AdamsWhen you wrote “nasty” on your cheek

to throw money around

The original idea of Terra Nova comes from producer Terry Marcel who tells it to his screenwriter daughter, Kelly Marcel (Bronson by Nicolas Winding Refn). First named Gondwanaland Highway, the project written by Kelly Marcel is bought by Fox, to his great surprise. So when Steven Spielberg is very interested in the series, the surprise is twofold. However, the future named Terra Nova moves further and further away from what the screenwriter imagined, thus, being already little attached to the screenplay, she leaves the creative team. If for Kelly Marcel the adventure with the dinos ends, she does not give up writing for as much since we will owe her Fifty Shades of grey, Venom, cruella and Venom 2.

Terra Nova: photo, Stephen Lang, Jason O'MaraSpielberg fishing for high concepts

From now on, Terra Nova is between the legs of Spielberg who sees here the opportunity to reconnect with the dinosaurs sinceit will add them to the scenario. Despite everything, he wants the series to break away from the image of Jurassic Park. The director of AND therefore puts a stop to any desire for Fox to shoot in Hawaii, the location of its cult blockbuster from 1993. Terra Nova will therefore be filmed in Australia drastically increasing production costs because of taxes and team travel expenses. Another Spielberg decision, Stephen Lang must be in the casting! He will be offered a role similar to that of Avatarreinforcing the parallel between Cameron’s film and the series.

This vampirisation of the project by Spielberg will considerably increase the production and push it towards a slippery slope. For the sake of economy, the whole series will be shot at the same time, including the pilot episode. The latter (split in two for broadcast) alone costs between 10 and 20 million dollars, while the others are around 4 million, making the series one of the most expensive of the time. The explosion of the budget is also explained by torrential rain flooding outdoor film setsas well as reshoots after the release of a first trailer seen by 111 million spectators during the Super Bowl, one of the most watched sporting events in the world.

Terra Nova: photo, Landon LiboironThe cat arrives

terra novelas

During the promotion of the series at the big geek mass that is San Diego Comic-Con, Jose Molina, the executive producer of the series claims:

You’re going to see an expensive series, and you’re going to see the money on the screen. »

A remark that goes wrong when you know that the introduction taking place in a future all in runny CGI comes from the scenes shot during the report, explained to the The Hollywood Reporter René Echevarria, showrunner and screenwriter of the series. The special effects make you want to clean your eyes with hydroalcoholic gel as they rival in ugliness those of Dwayne Johnson as King Scorpion in Return of the Mummy. The enormous budget of Terra Nova seems to have been put in a sieve, which will not contradict the visuals of the weapons of the series, Nerf toys painted in black (this is not a joke), and dinosaurs reduced to figuration.

Terra Nova: PicturesWe believe it

Unfortunately, and bitterly, we see over the episodes that the direction taken by Terra Nova is that of a telenovela. The story revolves arounda serious rewrite of the Simpson family in colony at Jurassic Park. All the clichés of the American family go through it. We have the nerd girl mocked by her rebellious brother, children of a perfect boy scout father, and a mother who is always there to help everyone. Without forgetting the youngest supposed to be cute, but which triggers a subplot as soon as she is alone. Terra Nova even inflicts a father-in-law/son-in-law relationship worthy of the 19th century. In short, the series is years late even in the writing of his characters.

During the broadcast, the producers did not have time to hope for success since the first two episodes brought together 9.2 million spectators. An acceptable score, but not for the budget that a chain like 20th Century Fox Television put on the series. And each week, the sentence becomes more inescapable for Terra Nova who sees its audience dropped by 2 million between its first and last episode. For Fox, the bet was lost and in March 2012 the series was canceled.

Terra Nova: Pictures“Look honey, it looks like he’s dead inside.”

Terra Nova had a more than exciting high concept for it, unfortunately Fox failed to turn expectations into reality. However the series came at a pivotal moment in television productions since the same year released the first season of Game Of Thrones, starting point of the race for daunting series, while Netflix was growing in size.

In a parallel world, maybe Terra Nova is the flagship big-budget series inspiring convention cosplayers to dress up as dinosaurs. With us, this promising universe will remain on paper while one can only observe its repulsive adaptation.


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