Late-bloom­ing ‘Terra Nova’ hopes past is its fu­ture


Hav­ing Steven Spiel­berg as ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on a new Fox show at­tracts at­ten­tion. Then when the net­work an­nounces it’s giv­ing the show the “Glee” treat­ment and air­ing the pi­lot in May, ex­pec­ta­tions get a rocket boost.

But com­puter-gen­er­ated di­nosaurs only grow so fast, so the sci­ence-fic­tion drama “Terra Nova” ac­tu­ally pre­mieres on Mon­day. Fox in­vited writ­ers to see a cut of the first hour of the two-hour pi­lot, and the spe­cial ef­fects weren’t quite done. An­other view­ing of a re-edited first hour weeks later re­vealed ... the ef­fects still weren’t quite done.

With any luck, “Terra Nova” will hatch just in time for Mon­day, but ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Bran­non Braga (with him and Spiel­berg, about 12 peo­ple have ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer cred­its) says they’re mov­ing right along.

Speak­ing in late Au­gust, he says, “We’re work­ing on the fi­nal two scripts right now. We’re deep in post-pro­duc­tion on six and seven, about to start post-pro­duc­tion on episodes eight and nine. We’re film­ing 10 and 11. We’re in the thick of it.”

“Terra Nova” (or “New Earth/Land/ Ground” in Latin) be­gins in 2149, when the planet is blighted and over­crowded. Sci­en­tists dis­cover a frac­ture in time, con­nect­ing the present with the age of di­nosaurs.

So “pil­grim­ages” of hu­mans and equip­ment are sent through the rift to es­tab­lish a colony in the dis­tant past in hopes of sav­ing hu­man­ity and hav­ing a sec­ond chance for a bet­ter civ­i­liza­tion.

But since the new land has the same old hu­man be­ings, you can imag­ine how well that goes.

Ja­son O’Mara (“Life on Mars”) stars as Chicago po­lice de­tec­tive Jim Shan­non, who busts out of the prison he was sent to be­cause he and his wife, Dr. Elisabeth Shan­non (Shel­ley Conn), broke their so­ci­ety’s two-child rule.

Elisabeth is re­cruited for the Tenth Pil­grim­age, and Jim risks it all to get him­self, her, their teenagers (Lan­don Li­bo­iron, Naomi Scott) and their youngest daugh­ter (Alana Man­sour) through the rift.

Once there, he meets the colony’s im­pos­ing leader, Cmdr. Nathaniel Tay­lor (Stephen Lang), a lot of hos­tile (and non­hos­tile) pre­his­toric crea­tures and shock­ingly clean air.

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