Terra Nova Discussion: “Genesis”

With all this talk of maybe-faster-than-light neutrinos, we neglected to discuss the heavyweight of the new genre series, Brannon Braga and Steven Spielberg’s Terra Nova. Equal parts cozy catastrophe, SF of ideas, and dino-shooting adventure, the first episode had its moments and some standout performances, but the character dynamics seem forced, the CGI is uneven, and I’m not convinced its ratings will justify the multi-million dollar budget.

What did the Bureau think?

The premise: in the future, we’ve largely wasted the world. Human colonists travel through a time-rift to restart civilization– in the Cretaceous Era.

Dinosaurs notwithstanding, it looks like paradise, but we quickly learn this Eden has more than a few serpents.

3 replies on “Terra Nova Discussion: “Genesis””

  1. I enjoyed it, but in the back of my mind I couldn’t wrap my head around the one glaring plot-hole that breaks the suspension of disbelief for me.

    They established early on that it was a one-way rift, nothing could come back through once it had been sent. This begs several obvious questions.

    1) How do they know the portal goes anywhere at all? It could be a quick trip to the afterlife. (This one is easier to believe. I’ll allow for the possibility that sufficiently advanced technology can detect a tachyon disturbance 65 million years in the past or some such technobabble).

    2) However, a bigger issue here is how they would know what they need to send. The controllers in the future seem to know that there is need for specific roles (doctors, agricultural scientists, etc.). Okay, I’ll allow that some of that is probably just reasonable precaution. Except for one thing: someone was waiting for them at the arrival site.

    3) But there’s someone sent back with an agenda. That doesn’t fly with me. If there’s no way home, and this is truly an alternate timestream that cannot affect the future they left, what agenda could they possibly have? It’s far more likely that a group of rebels decided to carve out their own fiefdom in paradise (and I’d be willing to believe that). But both sides are acting like the Sixers really did come here for a reason.

    Of course, there’s always the possibility that it’s not *really* a one-way trip. But they expended so much effort telling us otherwise that it’s going to feel contrived if they make that revelation.

    • While your “rebels carve out their own fiefdom” makes far more sense, I can think of a couple of explanations for what we saw:

      1) The people who sent the Sixers are motivated by some political/religious/ideological reasons and want to ensure the Future Belongs to Them. That’s entirely plausible, and in keeping with human behavior.

      2) If we accept the existence of the portal, perhaps we can be sold that– somehow– information can be sent the other way. We haven’t seen that, specifically, but I’d be willing to accept it if they establish soon it is the case, without worrying about any kind of real-world science that might account for it. It’s a hand-wave. We regularly accept FTL travel in SF when (barring confirmation of the recent neutrino news), we have no idea how that could work. As someone once said, we might as well say that the warp engines are powered by tarot cards.

      But, yeah, otherwise, these are plot problems.

  2. I was shocked that they actually managed to deal with the butterfly effect in a relatively sensible way. The rest of the show seemed to be Jurassic Park meets Avatar, but what continuously impressed me was the feeling of reality about the setting and the sets. I have seen an interview where one of the producers comments about he benefit of having a full-sized set in a natural setting, I think we saw it last night.

    I really think Fox is counting on the hubub created by Avatar to carry this show. We’ll see how that works for them.

    I would expect that if a wormhole could be opened from one end, it could just as easily be opened from the other. One thing I noted early in the pilot is that there does seem to be some sort of back and forth communication between worm hole endpoints, how else would they know that the remote event horizon had reached its appropriate state to allow for travel? How else could they keep to a schedule?


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