October 24, 2011

Terra No (1)


The best part of the Terra Nova pilot was the dystopian introduction, only because it reminded me how much I'd like to see a noir detective series set in the Blade Runner universe. That got my hopes up.

Then the whole thing started sliding down the stupid scale. Some tropes--like overpopulation, the environment being more polluted than in the past, and society becoming more violent--are so pervasive that people readily accept them when they're contrary to the facts.

In any case, the climate was much warmer, the CO2 levels at least four times higher, back during the Cretaceous. But I'm willing to give hackneyed tropes a pass as long as the writers get the rest of the science plausible right.

Alas, bad science fiction always has that moment when it becomes clear that the writer and director and producer couldn't care to get it right. The jocks show up in their SUVs (what is this, Road Warrior?) and bargain for stuff (why not just shoot them?) with a box of meteoric iron.

Meteoric iron is iron that comes from meteors. What are they going to do with it? Make hood ornaments? You'd need tons of iron to make the steel to support that level of technology in a community that size. What are they supposed to do if the axle on one of those souped-up SUVs break?

Besides, how do a bunch of rebels living in a jungle canopy keep them going? As transportation, ultralights make more sense. Another top priority would be transporting the components of a rocket system through the time rift so they could launch navigational and weather satellites.

Several massive extinction events occurred between then and now, caused not only by asteroids, but supervolcanoes and ice ages. If the survival of the human race is the whole point, they'll need to gather a lot of hard data about the planet to stay ahead of the Darwinian grim reaper.

And speaking of culling the slow and the stupid from the herd, running around in shorts would sure do it, not to mention stripping down to a bikini in a prehistoric rain forest. Okay, maybe they chlorinated the water and bombed the place with DDT first (the contrarian in me likes that idea).

I was hoping for a Cretaceous version of Star Trek or Stargate, about exploring the "strange new worlds" in our own past. What I got was a painfully predictable soap opera about the most exclusive summer camp for spoiled rich kids ever, and run like a country club penitentiary.

Where are the explorers? A prehistoric Ferengi or two looking to get rich? There should be splinter groups and outlying colonies all over the place, not just one bunch of ineffectual conspirators. Our Guy in Charge would be working overtime keeping the unum in e pluribus.

That means multipurpose, military/scientific scouting teams, the challenge of establishing and enforcing the rule of law, and keeping the colonies from splitting into tribes warring over limited high-tech resources. That means plenty of story possibilities.

Instead, the primary concern is a squabble between the preps and the jocks so arcane nobody can explain it. I'm getting the feeling they can't explain it because the writers haven't got a clue. But who knows, maybe it's a scheme to get rid of the "useless third" of the population!

Because this bunch sure isn't useful for anything.

Compared to them, the Ingalls family was more adventurous. As Kate says, "the Stargate philosophy is that exploration is better than playing it safe, no matter what the consequences." Terra Nova is all about playing it safe and fretting over the consequences. That's boring.

Related posts

Terra No (2)
Apocalypse not now
No way to wage a war

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Comments:

# posted by Blogger Joe
I shut my mind off for this show, but still can't over the fact that they have no helicopters or airplanes. Not even light weight solar powered drones! All of their electronics are 20th century.

Another annoying point: the house they live in is huge! Mammoth. What the hell did they build it with? And if they have that much material to throw around, why is their compound so small?

Finding natural iron, copper, gold, etc. would be easy as pie.

Oh, and why no beasts of burden? No horses? No blacksmith's? No geologists?

Why those cars? Have the colonists no imagination?

And where are all the children? Who thought of sending through a whole bunch of thirty somethings who aren't reproducing like rabbits?

The real plot twist would be for a splinter group to form, go off and built a metropolis, with oil refineries. mines and all sorts of modern amenities. They could then have a scene where a tour bus drives past the compound to show what primitive people live like.
10/24/2011 2:08 PM