Fox premiered the first clips of their upcoming dinosaur time travel series “Terra Nova” at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Images of people in the future wearing gas masks on the subway gave way to a lush tropical environment 85 million years ago. Paradise is short lived though, because thumping noises start to boom and characters get jerked out of frame.
The show, produced by Steven Spielberg, is about a family from the future who go back to the time of dinosaurs to start a new life for humanity. And dinosaurs eat them while they’re on the toilet, we hope. Alex Graves, director of the pilot, promised big thrills for the whole family.
“It’s not a scary show,” Graves said. “It’s an adventure show. My kids, I have young kids, they’ve already seen some of it and they loved it. They’re not scared. It’s not scary in that way. It’s adventure scary, not scary scary. What we know about the Cretaceous period is a lot of nice things. It was a lush period, the beginning of flowers. It really goes into the types of dinosaurs in the fossil record, and the gray area of the fossil records of where were dinosaurs in evolution and were they evolving into birds.”
Series producer Brannon Braga, of “24” and “Star Trek” fame, teased some of the dinos he’s flat out making up. “We have dinosaurs we know existed from the fossil record but you get to make up your own dinosaurs as well,” Braga said.
“Terra Nova” will get a spring premiere, then return for the full series. It worked for “Glee,” although they came back in the fall and “Terra” is not due until 2012. The premiere is a full two hour event though.
“It always kind of was 2 hours,” Graves said. “The story was. The whole dilemma, I think it started as an hour script like most pilots and yet you just read it and it never felt like an hour.”
Braga added, “We had too much story and we struggled for a long time to figure out how to fit it all into 60 pages. There was a meeting at the network where we were all looking at each other going what are we going to do? Let’s make it a 2 hour. Then it started to breathe and there were challenges of making it 2 hours.”
“That stuff’s all there,” Braga said. “It’s not really what it’s all about. It was an accidental discovery they capitalized on. We found this naturally occurring thing that goes back 85 million years. We don’t know why but let’s build a thing around it.”
Now that they’ve established the community of Terra Nova in the past, they’re populating it with doctors, craftsmen and regular families. The enclosure that is Terra Nova itself looks environmentally friendly, a frontier style wall with some future technology like solar panels. This ain’t Avatar though. It’s not all environmentalist.
“It’s not what the show’s about,” Braga said. “It is about a second chance for earth but earth can only be saved if people restore it themselves and not bring with it the baggage they leave behind. That’s the philosophical crux of the show. Can utopia be built? Is it possible?”
Look for the preview of “Terra Nova” this May, and more interviews with the cast and creators here on Screen Junkies.