When last we left dinosaurs on television, they were starring in ABC’s “Dinosaurs,” an early 90’s family sitcom with talking dinosaurs that you don’t remember and are all the better for it. But when Steven Spielberg says he wants to make a TV show about big freakin’ dinosaurs, you tend to cast lessons of history aside and ride the man’s coattails.
In early 2011, Fox will debut “Terra Nova,” a new series exec produced by Spielberg that is set in both the future and in prehistoric times. Cue the angry cro-magnon dude chucking a bone up into the air and seeing it turn into a spaceship. The folks at io9 got a hold of the press release for the show. Are you ready for an ambitious plotline? Here you go:
In the year 2149 the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and overpolluted. With the majority of plant and animal life extinct, devotion to science has brought mankind to the brink of destruction, but has also provided its only hope for salvation. Knowing there is no way to reverse the damage to the planet, a coalition of scientists has managed to open up a fracture in the space-time continuum, creating a portal to prehistoric Earth. This doorway leads to an amazing world, one that allows for a last-ditch effort to save the human race ... possibly changing the future by correcting the mistakes of the past.
I don’t really know how going back to dinosaur times will help you with things like overpopulation and pollution, unless you brought everyone with you and just started history all over again. (Note to self: NOT A BAD IDEA!) Why not just go a few years back in time, lay some money on the ponies, and use your riches to develop an anti-pollution machine? It’s a flawless plan.
Anyway, the show is being pitched as “Land of the Lost” meets “Avatar,” and only one of those things is good. To me, this show smells an awful lot like “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” another Fox series that was epic in scope and hugely expensive. This isn’t always the best way to go in the world of TV. You don’t need big special effects and dinosaurs and stuff like that. TV is not spectacle. What’s critical to the success of any TV show is character. Are these characters I want to hang out with every week? Are they complex enough that watching the show for years will uncover new layers and dimensions to who they are? That’s the thing that has driven the success of every great TV show ever made. So we’ll see if Spielberg has characters in mind that match the ambition of his concept. Cause it’s a doozy.