This is a great article answering “10 burning questions” about Terra Nova. We learn what changed from the original Pilot and why this show isn’t another LOST. Questions will not be left unanswered and some of the biggest mysteries will be resolved in the next few episodes. Make sure to tune in to Terra Nova Mondays at 8pm eastern on FOX.
HOW DID SCIENTISTS IN THE FUTURE KNOW WHERE THIS “RIP IN THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM” LED? | Short answer: They didn’t. As explained in the premiere, they first sent through a probe, but never heard back from or found it. So, while that indicated that the destination spot was in another time stream, “The first people who went through didn’t know where they were going to arrive,” says executive producer Rene Echevarria. (Hope they bought travel insurance.)
IN 2149, THE LAW SAYS: “A FAMILY IS FOUR.” WHY’D THE SHANNONS DARE TO HAVE A THIRD KID? | Although an original cut of the series pilot hinted at a deeper (darker?) reason for that bit of procreation, Jason O’Mara says that now, “The honest answer to that is Elisabeth and Jim are very much in love.” Before you roll your eyes, hear him out. “It’s easy to be cynical about it, but husbands and wives can be in love with each other, and they can have understanding, loving relationships, and good, close relationships with their kids,” the actor contends. “I’m not saying that they’re perfect – they’re not, by any means – but they are well-adjusted and highly functioning. Some may say, ‘How realistic is that?’ but I think it’s just as solid as any other portrayal of a TV family.”
WHAT ELSE CHANGED FROM THE ORIGINAL EDIT OF THE PILOT? | Imagine that the series started with Jim en route to Hope Plaza to collect his mysterious knapsack. Then, once the family exits the wormhole and Taylor’s guards go to slit open Jim’s parcel, that is when you first learn about Zoe. TWist! Instead, the for-broadcast pilot showed how years earlier the Shannons labored to hide Zoe in their home, and clued us in on Jim’s plan to escape prison. “Some of the feedback we got [on the previous version] was, ‘I really like it, but it starts a little choppy,’” Fox president Kevin O’Reilly explained this summer at TCA. “[The added back story] filled out the characters a little better, and when we screened it to multiple contingencies, I heard a lot of feedback from people who preferred it.” Another tweak involved smoothing over a suggestion of larger discord between Jim and Elisabeth. “There’s still some marital tension there, but yeah, it was a little darker,” says O’Mara, “which I’m not sure is the direction they wanted to go. It was more about reshifting the focus of the show toward the mythology.”
HOW SOON CAN THE SHANNON BOY GET EATEN BY A DINOSAUR? | That is a recurring refrain from some viewers who could do with less teen angst amidst this ambitious drama. “The tension with Josh,” says O’Mara, “is a longstanding storyline, as he gets seduced by not ‘the dark side’ but by seductive things.” Comely Skye included? Allison Miller, who plays the cliff-diving adventuress, deflects the temptress tag, saying, “Josh has got enough of his own influence to be bad, but I certainly don’t help things at the beginning!” In the end, she teases, “I may turn out to be all right.” Speaking of Skye: How did she lose both her parents? Says Miller, “That’s all to be revealed….”
WHEN WILL WE GET THE SIXERS’ NUMBER? | Echevarria says that light will be shed on the rebel faction as the show occasionally spends time at their well-guarded outpost. Over the course of this first season, “You’re going to find out why they’re here, who sent them, and what they’re about — and that climaxes with the arrival of the 11th pilgrimage.”
WHAT IS TAYLOR’S MIA SON DRAWING ON THE ROCKS? | “You only have to wait a couple episodes to find out what those sketchings are all about,” says O’Mara. In fact, as a general rule, Terra Nova ” is going to make sure that with all the questions, even though they’re a carrot on a stick, you only need a couple episodes to find out what’s going on. We’re being very conscious to create a show that yes, has mystery as a part of it, but we’re not going to have huge questions dangling.”
WILL DINOS EVER BITE THE DUST? | Thus far, the colony’s not-so-friendly neighbors have been repelled by sonic cannons and tranq guns, “humane” tactics that will prove to be the rule versus the exception. According to Echevarria, executive producer Steven Speilberg “had said that [killing dinosaurs] is not something he wanted to see characters do lightly. If there’s another way [to neutralize a threat], you take it.”
IF TERRA NOVA STARTS PUTTING UP T.REX-SIZED NUMBERS, COULD SEASON 1 BE EXPANDED BEYOND 13 EPISODES? | With production wrapping this week on the season finale, the answer is: No way, no how. If renewed for Season 2, however, Fox has the right to commission 22 episodes – and Echevarria says his team is “absolutely” up to that task. Speaking of numbers, is it true that Season 1 rang up a $100 million price tag? “That would not be accurate,” says Echaverria. “That is way high.” As for those other numbers, Terra Nova‘s demo rating grew from 3.1 to 4.1 once Live+3 DVR playback was factored in.
It makes me a little sad that people want Josh to be eaten already. I’m sure he won’t be a douche canoe forever.
We are so excited for next week’s all new episode of Terra Nova. We love this show! This is a great sneak peek at the new episode; Instinct. The video features interviews with the cast as well as detailing the latest threat to attack the people living in Terra Nova. Look out for Pterosaurs. Be sure to watch Terra Nova on FOX every Monday at 8 and you can check out Jason O’Mara’s website for great updates.
Terra Nova’s much anticipated 2 hour premiere event starts tonight at 8pm eastern on FOX. Before you tune in (and you better) TVLine did a great interview with Jason. He talks about the fans being eager to categorize the show into a specific box, comparisons to Jurassic Park, how he assures us the writers will answer questions and have already thought of everything, and a SPOILER character not making it to season 2.
We love Jason.
TVLINE | You shot the very first scenes for Terra Nova back in November of 2010, and you wrap production this October 7. What has been the most pleasantly surprising aspect of it all?
Probably how good this little actress Alana Mansour, who plays my daughter Zoe, has become. It has not surprised me because I knew she had potential, but it’s been a pleasant experience watching someone so young grow into the role as well as the process of creating a character and playing a scene. I’ve tried to encourage her to be prepared but also in the moment be willing to just forget all that and be present.
TVLINE | Yes, you two have some nice emotional touchstones in the pilot, in that Zoe doesn’t really know her father.
Exactly, yeah, and that relationship between Jim and Zoe has continued to blossom in the first season. We have plenty of scenes together and she’s so emotionally present in every scene, I’ve really, really enjoyed that. People tell you not to work with children and animals and I chose to work with a 7-year-old and several dinosaurs!
TVLINE | And what about the experience must you admit you weren’t quite prepared for?
Probably the geographical aspect and time difference, which is really hard. When I wake up to go to work, even if it’s like 6 am, I’ll have like 20 emails, several missed calls, texts… because by that point it’s already been a full day in the U.S. and people have tried to be in contact with me. And I only have a few hours to return all those messages before it’s nighttime in the States. Also, Monday in Australia is Sunday in the States, so we can’t really get a hold of anybody, and we basically work Saturdays because those are Fridays in the States. And every time I fly out for publicity, for the Emmys, the TCAs… it’s a challenge getting on and off plans for 15 hours at a time.
TVLINE | What are you finding to be people’s preconceptions about Terra Nova, and what is the reality?
That’s a really good question, because obviously I’ve been hearing a lot of people say, “It’s Lost meets Jurassic Park meets Avatar meets Land of the Lost!” – they’re desperate to put it in a box, and while there are aspects of all those things, it’s pretty unique and original as far as I see it. The other thing is that people are also very quick to dismiss the timeline aspects of it, saying that the Butterfly Effect would mean that none of this is possible. Or, “There’s an asteroid coming in 20 million years, how are you planning to deal with that?” “Why would you colonize the past? That’s a stupid idea.” There are these people who have contempt prior to seeing it, and it’s like, “Relax, guys. The people writing this show are really smart and they’ve considered all of this stuff. Just sit back and enjoy the show.”
TVLINE | My take on the whole asteroid argument is, “Um, that’s in 20 million years.”
Exactly. And we’ve only been on the planet for a million years? And only semi-civilized for about 10,000 years? That kind of puts things in perspective.
TVLINE | That said, people do like their giant mechanical lizards, and the back end of the pilot has this super-intense, Jurassic Park-caliber attack sequence. Are there moments comparable to that in subsequent weeks?
Every week there is some dinosaur encounter or another, depending on what the story calls for. Dinosaurs on Terra Nova tend to interfere with our day-to-day business as opposed to be the cause of it. There’s always some human dynamic that is creating a problem, not always a dinosaur. However, they do cause problems in that a lot of them are hungry, and we’re walking refrigerators to them. Not every episode is going to play out like an action movie, as the second half of the premiere does, but there’s lots of dinosaur action coming up, there are fatalities, and even one member of the regular cast doesn’t make it past the first season. There are lots of twist and turns and action in store. And the “Slashers” [seen in the premiere] do make a return appearance, so watch for that.
TVLINE | What was your reaction when you first saw a good cut of some early effects?
Last spring I went into the L.A. studio where the writers are and they showed me a cut of the opening sequence, and I found it emotional and riveting and moving and exciting, but what I was most happy about is that it had that Steven Spielberg look and feel to it. That even though we were dealing with science fiction and time travel, it felt like an all-inclusive experience, like E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. [Spielberg is an executive producer on Terra Nova.] It doesn’t feel like genre television, it just feels like a really good story.
TVLINE | Jim’s wife doesn’t seem too thrilled when he in essence becomes a cop again at Terra Nova. Was his profession at the root of the hinted-at, long-standing marital tension that was cut from the original pilot?
I don’t think she is thrilled, honestly, and politically they’re probably on opposing ends of the spectrum. She is concerned for Jim’s well being, they do have a second chance and they don’t want to make the same mistakes. However, being a cop is one of the only things that he’s good at and he wants to make the most of this new place. There’s an episode where we deal with the first murder in Terra Nova and how [Commander] Taylor reacts to that, and Jim toes the party line when it comes to trial and retribution and how that’s addressed by essentially an autocrat. Elizabeth then takes offense and has an opposing view…. Husbands and wives argue over a wide range of things, and that was something we wanted to use in the show.
TVLINE | If the show gets picked up for Season 2, does the whole shebang move from beautiful, lush Queensland to a lot on Burbank?
[Laughs] Oh, who knows…. Obviously we have this amazing set in Australia that we can expand on, but there are things to consider like exchange rates, production budgets and deadlines….. things that are beyond me. I don’t know where were going to end up for Season 2; let’s just hope and pray that we get one!
The show hasn’t even aired yet and I’m already worried it’ll get canceled as so many of my favorite shows do. It’s so good so you should all definitely tune in Mondays at 8 on FOX!
Jason O’Mara plays Jim Shannon on FOX’s new (hopefully hit!) show Terra Nova. In this new video interview, Jason chats about his character and how he hopes to play him for a very long time. We hope so too! We’ve seen the pilot and it’s amazing so be sure to tune in! Terra Nova premieres Monday, September 26th on FOX.
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