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TV Series Review

When most folks talk about "getting away from it all," they're imagining a trip to the mountains or a week on the beach. If they're really fed up with everything, they might research the feasibility of ranching chickens in Peru. But the Shannons are not most folks. When they get away, they travel through time. Like, 85 million years through time.

Let me explain. Back in the distant future (the year 2149), the Shannon family—policeman Jim, doctor Elisabeth, teens Josh and Maddy, 5-year-old Zoe—lived in that fetid, polluted cesspool still called Earth. Plagued by overpopulation and deteriorating air quality, the planet seems to be wheezing its last, and most of the human race seems destined for a slow, sad demise.

But thanks to some weird rupture in the space-time continuum, a few lucky souls have the opportunity to get zapped into the far, far distant past. And butterfly-effect advocates need not worry; that little theory doesn't fly here.

The Shannons were a few of the lucky ones. But it's not all rainbows and kumquats in this garden of Eden colony known as Terra Nova. On the up side, they get to see things they've rarely seen before. Like the moon. And clouds. And they don't have to wear gas masks wherever they go anymore.

But Josh and Maddy don't have anyone with whom to text. Zoe can't watch new episodes of Sesame Street. Colonists squabble with separatists in the past (present) and with greedy businessmen back in the future (present) who'd like nothing more than to strip-mine this new-old world,  Avatar style.

Oh, and have I yet mentioned the dinosaurs? Yeah, stay away from the ones with big teeth.

Terra Nova ultimately feels like a mishmash of VMelrose Place and Land of the Lost. Intrigue spatters this fresh new land like so much tropical rain. Leaders scheme and glower. Teens cast googly eyes at one another. People sometimes serve as bloody hors d'oeuvres for the aforementioned largish reptilian beasties. It can be dumb. It can be gory. It can be crass. It can suggest that dinos were the species to be (or beat) 85 million years ago.

But in the midst of all this Cretaceous-era drama with a capital D, we still have the Shannons—a traditional family that, in spite of a few pubescent pressure points, is trying to live together and love one another as best they can.

Sure, sometimes the Shannons go to outlandish (and even morally dubious) lengths. Sometimes the attitudes or the parenting skills aren't all that they could be. But we still get the strong impression that, when plans go astray or hopes go awry or you're being chased by a dinosaur with three-inch fangs, your family will be there for you.

Hopefully with a tranquilizer gun.

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Episode Reviews

TerraNova: 12192011
TerraNova: 9262011



Readability Age Range



Jason O'Mara as Jim; Shelley Conn as Elisabeth; Landon Liboiron as Josh; Naomi Scott as Maddy; Alana Mansour as Zoe; Allison Miller as Skye; Stephen Lang as Nathaniel Taylor; Christine Adams as Mira; Rod Hallett as Dr. Malcolm Wallace; Simone Kessell as Lt. Alicia Washington; Ashley Zukerman as Lucas Taylor






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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