Terra Nova

Saturday, March 17, 2012

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1641349/

I watched a couple of episodes of this show on the plane last night, and it’s one of those where you can see it’s interminably stupid yet can’t stop watching to see how far they can take it (I believe it’s already been cancelled, for obvious reasons).

As sci-fi, it’s a real clunker. Supposedly set nearly a hundred and fifty years in the future, but it could have been set any time since WWII without a noticeable change to the script (and a 1950s setting would have been a lot more fun). The last hundred and fifty years have taken us from the sailing ship to the space shuttle and the abacus to the iPhone, but apparently all the next hundred and fifty will give us are holographic display screens.

I haven’t watched anything Spielberg has been actively involved in since the stodgy mess of Saving Private Ryan, but I would have expected him to be able to make a decent adventure show. Instead we got a stupid and insanely stereotyped family drama, a cop show with dinosaurs and the obligatory mysterious messages carved into rocks; actually the latter would have been better.

In the future, it would appear, the government can track everyone using implants, but they’re inserted just under the skin so they’re easily removed. Luckily they don’t have any cameras so once you’ve removed the implant no-one can track you, and you can just sneak into the high security ‘going back in time’ base after escaping from jail using a laser your wife carried in to you. In a world that suffers from pollution and overpopulation, when they discover a wormhole into the past, rather than sending people through by the million with all the technology required to build a new world there, they send them through a few dozen at a time. Even though those people are going to be living among carnivorous dinosaurs, they don’t actually build guns that can kill them, instead they take late 20th century assault rifles. They also have no security, of course, so kids can just sneak out of the encampment, borrow a vehicle and go off driving around to get eaten.

The best part of the show is the confused opening, which mixes two tried and tested left-wing tropes; we have the ‘evil humans have destroyed the world with pollution’ trope and the ‘evil humans must be prevented from breeding’ trope. The funny part is that the ‘good guys’ are breaking the law by having too many kids, so throughout I was thinking ‘hey, these are the kind of evil bastards who destroyed the Earth, why should I care what happens to them?’

Ultimately it’s a glaring example of everything that’s wrong with popular SF. But when I spot the DVD on sale for $5 I’ll have to buy it watch the rest…

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