Bad Astronomy review: Terra Nova

By Phil Plait | October 17, 2011 6:30 am

So I finally watched the pilot episodes of the new Fox scifi drama "Terra Nova" (it airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET). I found it watchable, with some potential, and like every other TV show in existence (except "Firefly") it had some things I liked and some I didn’t. I got email about it due to a couple of lines in the pilot, which I’ll get to in a sec. First, a quick overview.


Gotta get back in time

The idea behind the show (no real spoilers here, since this is all explained in the first minute of the program) is that by the year 2149, the Earth is dying. Pollution, global warming, and so on have made the planet nearly uninhabitable. People need rebreathers just to go outside, and many scenes show huge chimneys pumping smoke into the air just to hammer home that point. Population control is mandatory; having more than two kids is an invitation for the police to come.

The show centers on a family – cop father, brilliant doctor mother, rebellious teenage son, science whiz-kid teenage daughter, and their youngest, a girl. And yeah, if you count three kids, good for you! That drives part of the plot in Part 1 of the show, so I won’t spoil it.

The big plot device in the show is that a fracture in time is discovered — how and why are not disclosed, perhaps to be revealed in a later episode — that goes to 85 million years in the past. People are being sent back in time to populate the still-clean planet, save humanity, fight dinosaurs, and so on.

I’ll note that I like how the time travel was handled. When we join the story, time travel has already been around a while — this family is sent back as part of the tenth wave of colonists — so the writers didn’t have to spend a lot of time talking about how it was done. It just is. Also, the writers circumvented the inevitable fan rage with a short expository scene stating how this isn’t really our past; the time line has split, so it doesn’t matter if you step on a butterfly or eat an entire herd of dinosaurs. It won’t change the future. That made me smile. Score one (pre-emptively) for the writers.

Of course, the show tried to distance itself from "Jurassic Park", and did so by having the first look at the dinosaurs be a herd of brachiosaurs, and then having the main characters in souped-up jeeps getting chased by a carnivorous velociraptor/T-Rex-like animal.

Um, yeah. Oops.

I’m no paleontologist, and I like watching dinosaurs with big sharp teeth eat a person as much as the next guy, so that part was fine. But then they went a little bit out of their way to add some astronomy, and kinda blew it. So I have to jump in here a bit.

What follows is me nitpicking the science of a couple of lines of dialogue. I don’t do this to be petty — I gave up on that in my reviews a long time ago — but just to use these lines to point out the real science. Any snarking is incidental.


M-O-O-N, that spells MATH

At the very end of the episode, the family goes outside and sees the Moon hanging in the sky. This was actually a pretty good idea; pollution is so bad by 2149 that it’s been years since the sky was clear enough to even see the Moon. So cool, this is a good way to wrap up the first show and reinforce the idea that things are different 85 million years ago.

But then they messed up. They show the Moon looming hugely, obviously far bigger than what it is today.

So the little girl asks her big sister, "Is it always so big?"

Big sis: "Not always. It moves about a half a centimeter away from the Earth every year, so it’s much closer than it was yesterday."

Dad: "You mean ‘tomorrow’."

Big sis: "You know what I mean."

OK, the time travel reference was cute; from their point of view they only left the future yesterday. Unfortunately, Big Sis’s math was screwed up.

First, her saying the Moon moves away from the Earth is correct, and her number of half a centimeter per year is close enough; tides from the Earth are indeed moving the Moon away from us currently at about 4 cm/year. That number changes over geologic time, and as it happens the Moon’s moving away a bit faster than usual right now. Millions of years ago that rate was slower*. So OK, let’s go with her number. As you’ll see, it doesn’t matter much.

How much closer would the Moon be that long ago? Well, that’s simple math: it’s just rate x time. So 85,000,000 years times 0.5 centimeters per year = 42.5 million cm, which is 425 kilometers.

The Moon currently orbits the Earth at a distance of about 400,000 kilometers, so that change is tiny, only about 0.1%! Even using the larger, current rate of recession won’t help much. You’d never notice that difference in size with your eye, and to be honest it would be tough with a telescope!

I’ll note that the Moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse, and so sometimes is closer to us than other times. In fact, the Moon ranges in distance over the course of an orbit by about 50,000 km, far more than that steady change over the past 85,000,000 years of just a few hundred klicks. And that’s every two weeks!

So the Moon wouldn’t have looked appreciably different, even 85 million years ago. The family, looking up at the Moon, should’ve simply marveled that they could see it at all.


The fault lies in the stars

Again, to establish how things are different in the past, the Big Sis says, "The stars are all different here too. They’re not in the same place as in 2149, because the universe has had 85 million fewer years to expand. I mean, do the math."

First, I had to laugh at that last "Do the math" line, given the problem with the Moon I just explained. But still, like with the Moon, they got the situation correct but messed up on the explanation.

Yes, the Universe is expanding. And sure, it was smaller 85 million years ago, but only by a small amount (less than 1%). The thing is, this expansion has nothing to do with the positions of stars in the sky; it only affects things on very large scales, like the distances to other galaxies. Even then, it’s not important for nearby galaxies like Andromeda. You need to look at galaxies even farther away to see it.

Still, the stars would be different in the past, but it’s because of a local phenomenon: the Sun and all the stars you see are orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy. They also go around at different speeds, so their positions in the sky slowly change.

I’ve seen different numbers for the time it takes the Sun to go around the galaxy once, but it’s something a bit more than 200 million years. 85 million is a large fraction of that time, so you’d expect the stars to be very different back then. Plus, some of the stars we see today are younger than that, and weren’t yet born back then… plus, some of the stars you’d see back then would have exploded as supernovae by now. So sure, the stars would look completely different to our time traveling protagonists. But it’s due to the rotation of our galaxy, not the expansion of the Universe.

Come to think of it though, with that late Cretaceous full Moon sitting fat and bright in the sky, it would wash out all the stars, and the family wouldn’t have seen any at all anyway.


Semper sci fi

So all in all, it’s not a terrible show. The writing isn’t bad and the acting is good, even if the special effects could use some work (some of the dinosaurs aren’t as realistic looking as they were in "Jurassic Park" and that standard, like it or not, has been set). The main use of science was handled well, if some incidentals weren’t, and the science is being used to augment but not necessarily drive the story, which is important. I’d give it a B.

So I’ll watch it, because I’m jonesing for straight science fiction. I really liked "Stargate: Universe", and I miss my spaceships and aliens. There’s nothing like that on TV for at least the next season, so, for now, "Terra Nova" will do. They’ve set up some interesting ideas, and I’m curious to see what they do with them.

Unless a 10-km-wide asteroid wipes out the colony first. But they have 20 million years to see that coming…


* This gets complicated. The rate of recession actually tends to slow with time, but there are other influences, like — seriously — the shape of the continents on Earth (read the link above for more info). We happen to live in a time when the recession rate is unusually high, so a few million years ago it was moving away more slowly… but over looooong periods of time the rate tends to drop.


Related posts:

- BA review: Star Trek
- The Universe is expanding at 73.8 +/- 2.4 km/sec/megaparsec! So there.
- Blastroid
- 5 big-budget sci-fi films that actually got their science right

Comments (142)

  1. Kullat Nunu

    Ugh, the dinosaurs weren’t realistic in Jurassic Park. Especially the flexible-tailed, naked, super-sized and insanely clever Deinonychus which was supposed to be Velociraptor.

  2. Anonymosity

    I also liked the preemptive strikes. I went in wondering why they would have chosen to go to a time when there were giant monsters that would try to eat you.

    So far, the problems haven’t come anywhere near to breaking the will of the cords suspending my disbelief.

  3. Mapnut

    “What follows is me nitpicking the science of a couple of lines of dialogue. I don’t do this to be petty — I gave up on that in my reviews a long time ago — but just to use these lines to point out the real science. Any snarking is incidental.”

    Don’t be too reticent, Phil. I’d consider those a couple of whoppers, and something that even a casual astronomy fan like me would have spotted. Keep up the battle for accurate science! Snark on!

  4. Phil,
    You forgot the coolest thing about the lunar recession, which is that geologists can measure how many days were in a month hundreds of millions of years ago, by looking at tidal sequences and counting how many tides between Spring (full/new moon) tides.

    So you don’t have to back-calculate, you can just check the geologic record.

    That’s the same geologic record that tells you that brachiosaurus went extinct about 120 million years ago.

  5. I wonder if any of these folks that go back in time are at all concerned that a giant, cosmic, splat is coming down on them? Granted they have about 15-20 million years, but their descendants are going to be bummed out if they don’t have some sort of asteroid defense system in place by then.

  6. Bob

    Kullat Nunu: He’s talking about the quality of the CGI, not the anatomical correctness.

  7. Pierre

    About the split timeline, I think it’s not that clear cut, and it may be an important point in the main plot. From what I understand, they explain to people that it’s a different timeline, but some people know that it isn’t the case (the guys in the other camp?). And if it’s a different timeline, how can they communicate with the future ? (as the bartender in the last episode says he can do).

  8. tacitus

    I wonder if any of these folks that go back in time are at all concerned that a giant, cosmic, splat is coming down on them? Granted they have about 15-20 million years, but their descendants are going to be bummed out if they don’t have some sort of asteroid defense system in place by then.

    Well, given that it’s going to take us a mere few thousand years to go from Stone Age technology to an asteroid defense system (and we already have an early warning system) I doubt it would be much of a concern — especially since they can import all the tech they need from the future.

  9. CJSF

    So, since they’re not affecting “their” timeline, everything’s fine. What about potential devastating change to the “other” timeline? Seems selfish to me! ;-)

    CJSF

  10. Hootie

    Watched the first episode, couldn’t get past the premise: “They” discover a time fracture. It’s one-way (no coming back!). And it’s on a different timeline, so nothing they do can effect (or be discovered by) the present future. So how do they know that said time portal leads back to Earth 85million years ago, instead of–say–Earth 50 years in the future, the surface of the Sun, or just somewhere out in empty space? Far as I can figure, they discover this temporal fracture and just start shoving stuff into it not knowing where it’s going or what’s going to happen to it. Were I a resident of 2149 Earth, I not be confident of my continued existence heading into the bright and shiny fracture (this would be an excellent way for the Powers That Be to get rid of the excess population: convince the people that through this time fracture lies hope, and push them into it like a giant cosmic meat grinder).

  11. Gary

    Terra Nova has kind of a ‘Jericho’ feel to it with the stereotypical character types, the menacing secret lurking behind everything, and the soap opera plotting (teenager angst, especially). With a bit of Swiss Family Robinson thrown in it’s just a jumble of pieces that might never really sort out. I expect the “science” references will get worse as it goes along.

  12. Carey

    Did they address infectious disease? I imagine there would be some pretty lethal stuff floating around in the Cretaceous that modern humans have no immunity to.

  13. OtherRob

    I saw the premiere, but missed the line about how the timeline had split and I was wondering how they were going to handle that aspect of time travel.

  14. Mike

    ” the acting is good” – I think you mean “the acting is wood”

  15. Carey,

    Very little of that will be at all likely to be able to infect humans since it didn’t evolve to do that. The classic bad infectious disease is when one group of humans encounter another group of humans that have a disease. Still, there are mammals around then so some degree of host jumping is definitely possible.

  16. MacRat

    Anonymosity Says: “I went in wondering why they would have chosen to go to a time when there were giant monsters that would try to eat you.”

    The time fracture simply exists.

    They have no control over when it goes.

  17. Apropos the moon. Since the moon is near the horizon it appears larger. Since they were from a future they rarely saw the moon and almost never stars. So when they think it appears larger than they are used to, sis, who knows about the moon’s recession, states the obvious explanation, but gets it wrong. Nothing more natural than that. And since the size of the moon in movies and TV is almost never the right size, the visuals don’t count. And she gets it wrong again on the stars. Figures. After all, if the writers can have the wrong idea, then what could be more natural than a kid getting it wrong too?

    @CJSF. Funny thing about timelines, we only ever care about the timeline up to the point we exist. Everything we do changes at least one timeline, the one we are in, yet we keep doing things. Actually, given that it is a different universe, maybe it isn’t time travel at all, it is just teleportation to a planet at a different stage of development?

    I was a little disappointed in the second episode. It was all about a new deadly species they had to deal with. Okay, they are allowed one such episode, but I hope it doesn’t turn into the dinosaur of the week. If the show is to survive, it needs to be about the people.

    Two other interesting things introduced. Taylor said that it was many weeks from the time he came through the fracture until the second group came through, even though the second group came through immediately after him. So, does that mean that the two timelines are moving at different rates? If so, why weren’t Elizabeth and the two kids settled in when Jim and Zoe came through?

    Also, it appears that the travel is one way, since a fugitive can escape there and not be returned. But we also know that Taylor can requisition things he needs from the future, so at least information can go back.

    As to “why then?”, my impression is that it isn’t that time travel in general was discovered, a single preexisting worm hole was found, so there are no options as to where and when you are going. So, back to the thing about travel being one way, I hope that they were at least able to get information back about the other end of the worm hole before Taylor went through. Since any arbitrary rift in time and space would likely open up onto vacuum, it might have been slightly risky for Taylor when he went through. Did I saw risky? I meant insane.

    Phil, I am surprised that you didn’t mention the biggest complaint about the show that has split the public, namely the Terra Nova logo consisting of a drawing of Pangea. Not exactly appropriate, since Pangea ceased to exist about 250 mya, as opposed to Terr Nova’s mere 85 mya.

  18. Mark

    I’ve never heard of this show until now.. but reading about the synopsis, I hope they end it like they ended “Dinosaurs”, with the family looking out the window at a plume of black industrial smoke pouring into the air, and finally realizing that humanity cannot keep running away…

  19. TC

    That was a fun article, thanks. I enjoyed your article more then the show itself. As far as the show goes I thought the protagonists were stilted, unrealistic, formulaic, and cliche. And I’m not talking about the dinosaurs, I mean the humans. Who writes this stuff?

  20. Phil, you hit some of the points about the show that I noticed too, but I have a couple more.

    They brought in that the timeline split, but how are they still sending people to an alternate timeline in the past? Now it’s not just a rift in time, but it’s a cross-timeline portal to the past.

    My other problem is the oxygen content in the air 85 million years ago. From what I understand (I’m not a paleontologist either), dinosaurs could exist because the oxygen levels of the air were so much higher than today. Now, take that difference and take the difference between today and 2149 (with all that pollution) and I would think that all those people would have died going through the portal. I’m willing to suspend disbelief though, for the sake of the show. I just wish they would have handled it better than a little dizziness and one dude with a slug on his back (that they didn’t explain much either).

    Like you said, having a straight up Sci Fi show on network TV is awesome. I was super bummed when SGU was cancelled. Unfortunately, it’s on Fox, so it probably won’t get the lifetime that it might deserve. The jury is still out on this show for me.

  21. chris j.

    beyond the question of killer diseases, which are highly unlikely given that humans are unlike anything alive 85 mya, but i wonder whether the dinosaurs would even consider humans to be food in the first place. i would expect that we would smell very strange to them, and certainly we wouldn’t look like anything they ate.

    re the moon, there’s another way to “do the math” and come to the conclusion that the moon wouldn’t have been appreciably closer. 85 mya is about 2% of the time since the moon formed about 4.6 bya.

  22. tacitus

    So, since they’re not affecting “their” timeline, everything’s fine. What about potential devastating change to the “other” timeline? Seems selfish to me!

    That depends on whether they believed that human beings would successfully evolve on that timeline too. In a many-worlds interpretation, the odds of human beings evolving in any one timeline are probably very small indeed, so no big deal.

  23. Hmmmm, I wonder if Julian May is getting a cut of this action? The backstory sounds an awful lot like her “Saga of Pliocene Exile” (The Many-Colored Land, The Golden Torc, The Nonborn King, and The Adversary.) Granted, the Exiles were sent back to the Pliocene Era, to deal with big mammals, on what was supposed to be a one-way trip to our own distant past which was designed to leave no historical traces. Unfortunately, it turned out the exiles weren’t the first advanced intelligences in the neighborhood…

  24. If only bad astronomy was only problem of Terra Nova. I saw only pilot and it’s absolutely horrible. Bad dialogue + bad acting. Crappy CGI, horrible blue box. Too much cheesines in already dull plot. Alltogheter it constitues on biggest tv let down ever.

  25. I’m not convinced there is a separate timeline. If I remember correctly, the reason they believed that there was a separate timeline was because no one could find the probe they sent back. But in 85,000,000 years a lot can happen to a probe, no matter how well it is constructed. A lot can also happen to a civilization in 85,000,000 years, so even if there is no second timeline, the humans back in the Cretaceous can easily avoid wrecking the timeline by getting off the planet as soon as possible, preferably moving to the other side of the galaxy.

  26. Regarding diseases, I don’t think that not having co-evolved gives you a free pass, it just means that there won’t be diseases that have learned to co-exist peaceably. So, many diseases will not be equipped in their life cycle to infect humans, but others will not have evolved to not kill their hosts. After all, even over 85 million years, many of the biological systems that keep us alive are still the same.

    Regarding dino food. Meat is meat. Most scavengers aren’t too picky. Some predators might leave us alone because we don’t smell right, but others will probably think we look a lot like their regular food.

    And does Lt. Washington remind anyone else of Cmdr. Ivanova?

  27. Erik,

    Humans can breathe fine in high-oxygen environments. Indeed, you can function for extended periods of time in a 100% oxygen environment although it isn’t safe. For example, the nearly pure oxygen environment in Apollo 1 was a major reason that the fire spread so quickly. There are also health problems that can occur with staying in a pure oxygen environment for extended periods of time. But An increase in the oxygen level a few percentage points wouldn’t be a big deal.

  28. tacitus

    I’m not convinced there is a separate timeline. If I remember correctly, the reason they believed that there was a separate timeline was because no one could find the probe they sent back. But in 85,000,000 years a lot can happen to a probe, no matter how well it is constructed.

    So when would you expect the changes in the timeline to show up, if not immediately? Consider how improbable the birth of any one person alive at the time the rift was discovered would be. As it is, the slightest interference 85my ago would probably kill off any chances that human beings would evolve — assuming that their evolution wasn’t actually caused by the going back in time in the first place… but then you have a time paradox…

    Alternate timelines is a nice, easy solution that avoids all kinds of complications that I would seriously doubt the writing staff was up to the task of handling.

  29. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    some of the dinosaurs aren’t as realistic looking as they were in “Jurassic Park”

    I’d be very surprised if dinosaurs (especially close-ups) don’t appear quite rarely after the premier. That stuff costs money.

  30. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    @tacitus: The colony could already be a part of history if it fails early and no recognizable sign of it survives 85,000,000 years, but that’s depressing, and an alternate timeline is cleaner. Also, it can be used to explain other discrepancies if it’s less a “branch” of a single timeline and more a similar but separate alternate.

  31. noen

    So when do they discover the Sleestaks?

  32. QuietDesperation

    many scenes show huge chimneys pumping smoke into the air

    In 2149? Is that even rational? Here in Los Angeles we went from brown skies and smog alerts in the 1980s to seeing the mountains regularly and ending smog alerts as useless in just 20 years. Do they explain this reversal in clean air policy, or is it just the Captain Planet hyperbolic INDUSTRY AMS TEH EVILS! approach?

    even if the special effects could use some work (some of the dinosaurs aren’t as realistic looking as they were in “Jurassic Park” and that standard, like it or not, has been set).

    The standard has been set… for big budget 2-hour movies.

    Adjusted for inflation, Jurassic Park had a budget of nearly $100 million. Don’t be an effects whore. Forget the eye candy and give me good stories and characters. It’s why I can go back and be entertained by Tom Baker era Doctor Who and be bored stiff by FX extravaganzas like Skyline.

    I like watching dinosaurs with big sharp teeth eat a person as much as the next guy

    O.o

  33. Pete Jackson

    If they exaggerate the rate of changes of the moon’s evolution with time, then they can do the same with Mars and even Venus, so that both could be crawling with life and either be visited by the time travelers or even have intelligent lifeforms back than that visited Earth!

    Or even that the asteroid belt was still a small planet back then, also with life, including intelligent life.

    The plot possibilities are boundless!

  34. QuietDesperation

    So when do they discover the Sleestaks?

    If Una Persson shows up from the Time Centre, I would forgive the show all things.

  35. Pete

    I attended a DragonCon panel where the topic was the advanced dinosaur civilization that was wiped out by the asteroid impact – at least one well-regarded scientist notes that we really would not be able to tell if there was anything advanced from 65MYA.

  36. Alhazred

    As it is, the slightest interference 85my ago would probably kill off any chances that
    human beings would evolve…

    Eh, there are all kinds of different viewpoints on this kind of thing. Certainly there would be small scale effects, but would they build up or tend to average out over time? The universe is technically ‘chaotic’ to use a popular term, but would a world where a few twigs and branches happen to be in different places actually diverge in any appreciable way from ours? In other words the trees might be in different spots, and it might rain on Tuesday instead of Monday, but the forest is in the same spot. Mankind didn’t come down from A TREE, but from THE TREES. Of course it is perfectly reasonable to argue that say introducing a modern species of plant could make a large difference. It is unlikely to be a question we’ll ever answer.

  37. Harold @21: “Hmmmm, I wonder if Julian May is getting a cut of this action? The backstory sounds an awful lot like her “Saga of Pliocene Exile” (The Many-Colored Land, The Golden Torc, The Nonborn King, and The Adversary.) Granted, the Exiles were sent back to the Pliocene Era, to deal with big mammals, on what was supposed to be a one-way trip to our own distant past which was designed to leave no historical traces. Unfortunately, it turned out the exiles weren’t the first advanced intelligences in the neighborhood…”

    Well, Julian May wrote her stories starting around 1980. Whereas, back in 1958, the late, great Poul Anderson wrote “Wildcat”, which has *exactly* the same premise as “Terra Nova”.

    Was Julian May ripping off Poul Anderson? No. It’s natural that different writers might use a similar basic idea.

    But, if the “Terra Nova” people want to give credit, they should give it to Poul Anderson. And maybe also to P. Schuyler Miller, for his 1937 story “The Sands of Time”.

  38. tacitus

    Do they explain this reversal in clean air policy, or is it just the Captain Planet hyperbolic INDUSTRY AMS TEH EVILS! approach?

    A libertarian government takes power…? Koch Industries continues to flout environmental regulations on a routine basis, and that’s with supposedly stringent anti-pollution regulations in place.

    But I would agree that it would seem very unlikely. However it’s not exactly outside the norm for scifi futures to incorporate dystopian visions of a world where the corporations have all the power and abuse it to the utmost degree. Realistically, it would take some kind of major collapse of civil order–probably in the wake of a major depression–followed by an authoritarian take-over before you had the conditions in which rampant disregard for pollution controls would happen, probably as the result of systemic corruption.

  39. TheRaptor

    The problem with later shows is that it becomes ‘monster of the week’ Nodwick http://ps238principal.livejournal.com/180101.html did a spill on it and I have to agree with him on a lot of points (like the whole point about over use of catch phrases and acronyms. They say the word ‘fresh’ once too often. I got it the first time). There is another problem in that there have also been no consequences for screw ups. Such as, the teenagers all go off to get drunk…. While, I know that teenagers have a different sense of judgement from adults… they still are able to judge things and running off into the jungle where man eating dinos are lurking just to drink does not strike me as something even a group of bored teens would do. Not when 3 of them are living in a house, without anyone to tell them other wise… On top of that, when the dinos do catch up to them (spoiler, but if you didn’t see this coming..), there are no serious consequences for it. And no, getting terrorized doesn’t count as a consequence. Then comes the whole speed of plot. That the logical thing to do doesn’t happen because it would instant fix the problem…. I quit watching. The science went stupid, the plot didn’t thicken, the love triangle with the guy who can’t understand the word ‘no’ wasn’t interesting – or very cleaver (good sci-fi brings up difficult social issues without being annoying about it, and makes you think about it), and it’s becoming predictable.

  40. Eighthman

    Yay. I almost emailed you about when you were going to tackle Terra Nova, since I wondered about the size of the Moon (but was too lazy to figure it out), and the expansion of the universe. One thing you didn’t mention was about the length of day. Was an Earth day still 24 hours back then? That comes up a little when they talk about their schedules.

  41. Biggest howler:

    The repeat from Jurassic Park about how “kind and gentle” giant herbivores are. (Of course! They don’t eat meat!)

    Hippos kill more people than lions. Elephants would just as soon stomp you into a thin layer of schmear as look at you.

  42. tacitus

    I attended a DragonCon panel where the topic was the advanced dinosaur civilization that was wiped out by the asteroid impact – at least one well-regarded scientist notes that we really would not be able to tell if there was anything advanced from 65MYA.

    Hmm. Not so sure about that. If it was a planet-wide civilization like ours, I suspect there would be enough places where stone/brick buildings were covered with sand (desert or shallow seas) to be preserved embedded in sedimentary layers, that we would eventually chance upon identifiable remains.

    It probably all depends on how widespread the civilization was, and how big a population it had.

  43. Endyo

    I only watched the beginning of it. Why would that have CO2 masks? That didn’t make any sense at all to me. I understand that receiving a shockingly high amount of oxygen after being adapted to limited oxygen and the higher levels of oxygen present in the atmophere at that period, but seriously CO2? Why not nitrogen since our atmosphere is primarily nitogen? Just seems crazy to me.

  44. The Captain

    The biggest problem for me was the characters. Just awful. I could’t stand any of them. The parents where spoiled self-centered brats, (there was law against having more kids for a reason, how many poorer children whose parents had followed the law had to go without food because these idiots can’t wear a condom and their third kid would eat even more resources?). They then get to escape their penalty for this by going to the one place everyone on the planet wants to go (also by brining two extra people, so that probably means two honest people will miss out on the next trip).

    The kids where annoying, in that one dimensional horror camp movie way. And the other adults where just stereotypes. Ughh. And the set design was just Jurassic Park with wood.

  45. tacitus

    Hippos kill more people than lions. Elephants would just as soon stomp you into a thin layer of schmear as look at you.

    Well, having had a close encounter with an elephant while on safari, I can attest to that, but when you consider all large herbivore species worldwide, how many of them exhibit such aggressive behavior — not that many, I’d wager.

    So I don’t think it’s a howler at all to assume that some, even a majority of the herbivore species of dinosaurs would be non-threatening when confronted by human beings — especially given that they have had no previous experience of humans as any kind of threat.

    Face it, we really don’t have a clue how herbivore megafauna would have reacted, and if you’re playing the odds, then non-aggressive isn’t a bad way to go.

  46. carobiscuit

    Loved the “The Stand” reference. ;)

  47. carobiscuit

    Ha, I meant The Stand.

  48. There’s a similarish time-travel motivation in Phillip K. Dick’s “The Crack in Space”. What happens next is rather unexpected, like just about everything else he wrote.

  49. Giffy

    Brian,
    I think they explained that its like the wormholes in Stargate. Matter can only go one way, but radio can go both. So they can communicate with the future. They didn’t explain why the first time there was a huge gap, but latter no gap. I just assumed that they got better at managing the wormhole or maybe its something that happens from time to time.

    QuietDesperation,

    I think its just a plot point. Need a reason the future sucks and environmental issues are as good as any. Plus a lot of our clean air success have been rather costly or have relied on moving more dirty industries to countries with less concern for the health of their populous. Maybe in 150 years we use up the materials needed for renewables and economic pressures put us back on coal. Seems unlikely as we can already envision technologies that would avoid that, but then I doubt we’ll hear much more about it. Or perhaps its a conspiracy to keep the population in line. Poison the air and restrict resources so people don’t question the government.

    So far I like the show. I’m not completely sold on it, but the premise seems fun.

  50. Charles Boyer

    I have read that as little as 1000 years ago that saving the odd volcanic eruption that there were far fewer particulates in the air and therefore the sky was far darker in the daytime than now, thanks to there being fewer scattering centers.

    That in mind, it makes me wonder if 85MYA whether it would be possible to see some of the brighter stars during even daylight hours, or at least longer after sunrise and sooner before dusk. One would think that some of the planets like Venus would be pretty bright.

  51. There’s also a HUGE inconsistency in how the time portal works already; there’s apparently a larger gap in time on the past side of the portal than on the 2147 side, and yet they maintain some sort of real-time two-way communications channel through it.

    Plus, it has the same usual mystery-meat plot stuff. It’s not good enough to have a bunch of pioneers trying to find their way around in a new, dangerous place, no, there has to be conspiracies and backstabbing and formulations and people just plain being reprehensible to each other.

  52. Kevin

    Perhaps because they are in a separate timeline the moon is closer than it was in our timeline?

    Either that, or the producers just went with the “Moon Illusion” to fool the public.

    Also, because it’s a different timeline, perhaps the asteroid won’t hit in another 20 million years.

    Wait… wasn’t this stuff covered in the last Star Trek movie, and Back to the Future? :)

  53. Good to see some Terra Nova trouncing on the blog, even if I think you let it off too easily (the next two episodes don’t get much better than the pilot). In paleo the current issue with the Terra Nova dinos is whether, or not any of them should exist in the era they chose. The daughter calls the large sauropods brachiosaurids, which makes it possible that they were still around at the time and were contemporaneous with _Carnotaurus_. Though the leader from Avatar has what looks like an _Allosaurus_ skull holding up his desk. So that’s weird. The creative license taken on the made-up dinos is even worse, with the acerraptors and their metal cutting tails (which is to say nothing of the random feathering placed on dinosaurs that would not have had feathers [e.g. the _Carnotaurus_ arms). The brachiosaur heads were also much too large, and the contortions that sauropod had to do to reach the daughter are also anatomically very unlikely.

    All that said, I must disagree with Brian Utterback on the requisites of keeping this show alive. Terra Nova’s biggest problem so far has been the use of the dinosaurs as set dressing. The show has been very front heavy with the character development. That doesn’t work. We, as the audience, have no reason to care about any of these character’s backstories, since we have not experienced any real adventures with them yet. If the show is to survive beyond a first season (and let’s face it, it won’t), it needs to become dinosaur of the week. That was the initial lure for folks to watch, and that is what they have yet to deliver on.

  54. hootie (10): Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that. Good point! Maybe they explain that later… but I suspect it’s just a plot hole. :)

  55. Many time-travel stories, starting perhaps with The Time Machine, explain time travel, or even invent it, before it is used. If it’s just a plot device, then there is really no need to do this. Actually, Wells didn’t have to do it in his book, but he did.

    Interestingly, much early science fiction was somehow unable to just take place in the future. There had to be a time-travel bit at the start to move someone from the present into the future. While this can be useful in a fish-out-of-water sort of way, it’s really not necessary.

    Now, we just write about the future. In the past, people had to use time-travel to get into the future. Before that, they had to invent time travel before they could use it.

  56. The Captain

    You know, what really depresses me about this show, especially how awful I thought it was, is that this will probably be the one sci-fi show FOX doesn’t cancel!

  57. Jen H.

    “If the show is to survive beyond a first season (and let’s face it, it won’t), it needs to become dinosaur of the week. That was the initial lure for folks to watch, and that is what they have yet to deliver on.”

    For what it’s worth, each episode has delivered a new creature, if not a new dinosaur.

    1st episode – brachiosars, prehistoric centipede, Carnotaurs, Pteranodon, “Slashers”

    2nd episode – pterosaur swarms

    3rd episode – “ovosaurs,” Carnotaur, prehistoric beetle

    tonight’s episode – “Nicoraptor”

  58. Esketekebanka Fikilikippikiniki

    Looks like the botched job Dan Simmons walked away from:

    http://www.dansimmons.com/news/message.htm

  59. I rather liked the series (though I am partial to anything with dinosaurs in it). I will admit though that I has serious deja vu with regards to another Amblin show called Earth 2.

  60. Astin

    Re: alternate timeline.

    The discussion of them interfering with “present” time and the probe not being found seems to underestimate the effect of 85 million years. Mankind has been around for less than 1% of that time and traces of the earliest civilizations are barely decipherable to the layman. Over 85 millions years, all traces of a modern civilization could be wiped out. Structures long since decayed and recycled, human remains of a relatively small community long since dust before becoming fossilized, etc.. Even modern materials could potentially be eradicated to the point of needle-in-a-haystack over that period of time.

    And that’s without an asteroid slamming into the planet in 20 million years.

    Humanity could easily wipe itself out in far less time. Or they could abandon the planet and take everything of value they have. Especially if, to avoid destroying the livability of Earth again they adopt a reuse/recycle habit that actually gets used (meaning far less non-organic waste).

    Also, they could be settled in a part of the world far from where humans evolved (again, tens of millions of years later), so if they don’t propagate globally, they could have minimal effect on that story.

    In short, 85 million years is too far back to necessarily have a measurable effect on present day unless they survive and spread globally.

    Even if they DID, how would you know in present day if it wasn’t an alternate timeline? Sure, shows like to show a change of modern day that people notice – “hey, the spullung is difrnt than I remumber” or “where’s my friend gone?” But wouldn’t those changes not be noticed since everyone lives IN THE ALTERED TIMELINE? You’d need a “temporal wake” or some other technobabble to protect you from the changes. But hey, maybe that’s where they’re going with this.

  61. Adam Nix

    I find it interesting that these people have made time travel into the past work but cannot be bothered with social engineering.

  62. I hear FOX is planning to go back in time to cancel “Terra Nova” before television even existed.

  63. tacitus

    Even if they DID, how would you know in present day if it wasn’t an alternate timeline? Sure, shows like to show a change of modern day that people notice – “hey, the spullung is difrnt than I remumber” or “where’s my friend gone?” But wouldn’t those changes not be noticed since everyone lives IN THE ALTERED TIMELINE? You’d need a “temporal wake” or some other technobabble to protect you from the changes. But hey, maybe that’s where they’re going with this.

    You are grossly misunderestimating the effect of altering events in the past — even if it was 85MYA. What are the odds that human beings eventually evolved in the first place from that point in time, 85 million years ago? Vanishingly small. Thus any small change in the timeline back then wouldn’t just alter spelling, it would likely wipe human beings out completely as a species. Something else might possibly evolve out of the early mammalian species from that time, but it would have been very different from human beings — and even if by chance they did look the same, the people, the civilization, everything, would be profoundly different.

    If there is no alternate timeline, then a paradox is unavoidable. Sending human beings back into the past on the scale indicated by Terra Nova (unless it fails in its very early days) necessarily alters the past of life of Earth enough to almost certainly alter the eventual evolution of future species in profound ways. Thus if humanity evolves it would be because they would eventually send themselves back in time and have an effect on Earth’s past.

    (Given that they have already altered the migration pattern of a populous species of pterosaur in the show, I would think the changes are already rippling out far and wide.)

  64. John Douglas Porter

    Reminds me of the ST(TOS) episode “All Our Yesterdays” http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/All_Our_Yesterdays_(episode)
    in which the people of a certain planet are sent to the past in order to escape the imminent nova of their sun. (Easier than building rocket ships, I suppose.)

  65. Asteroid? Asteroid my ass. It was a cargo ship with Adric on board crashing after the Cybermen messed with it.

    TEACH THE CONTROVERSY! :P

  66. Are you saying that you didn’t like Firefly? Or that there was nothing about Firefly you didn’t like?

  67. QuietDesperation

    I find it interesting that these people have made time travel into the past work but cannot be bothered with social engineering.

    Because social engineering is a bigger fantasy than time travel?

  68. I remember back in the 70s when the fracture in time was first discovered. At 9 I was quite taken with Holly. This is a great idea for a sequel.

    I’m sure they won’t look the same, nor will they have the same name, but I bet at some point they have Sleestaks.

    @Hootie – Exactly right, if you find yourself is some weird distopian future and the government asked you to march into a bright gate looking thing you should be thinking incinerator before time travel. Even morsel when they tell you there Kano way to get data back but they know where it goes.

    Fianlly, weren’t Cretaceous CO2 levels like several time higher than they are today? I realize that estimations vary so much as to be almost meaningless that far back, but everything I’ve heard says they were much higher. Were there other differences in the atmosphere? O2 levels? I ‘m too lazy right now to go look it up, but I will later.

  69. GaterNate

    Just so you’re aware, when this is shared to Facebook, the description reads, “I found it watchable, with some pot…”

    Hey, far be it for me to judge. Whatever is needed to suspend disbelief.

  70. Keith Bowden

    I always thought they should have spent another $2 million on Jurassic Park. Then it could have also been the movie “65 Million Dollars in the Making!”

    [silence]

    Tough audience.

    @Chris Swanson (65) – Woo-hoo!

    @Tacitus (63) – Domino or Butterfly Effects sometimes seem a little overstated. Drop a pebble in a river and there’s no effect on the course of the river. Sure, altering something in the past can create exponential changes in the timeline, but it’s also possible that the changes are mitigated by the onrush of the surroundings.

    Especially since there’s a major “reboot” coming in 20 million years.

  71. Ken

    @35, @42: I’m ambivalent. Geologists can identify ancient lakes and craters that are of a similar size to open-pit mines; and they can trace river beds that are about the width of highway or railway (which also often have cuts). So it’s likely that some features would survive, and they’re rather suspiciously round and straight.

    As for why there’s no trace of the Terra Nova colony, maybe they’re sited on the shoreline of the future Yucatan peninsula? :-)

  72. amphiox

    Well, having had a close encounter with an elephant while on safari, I can attest to that, but when you consider all large herbivore species worldwide, how many of them exhibit such aggressive behavior — not that many, I’d wager.

    As both prehistory and history show, most of those herbivores worldwide that did not exhibit such aggressive (or evasive) behavior, are no longer with us.

    We ‘et ‘em.

    The aggressive large herbivores of today are so because they have evolved to recognize humans as potential predators and threats. It would therefore seem quite unlikely that those giant dinosaurs would have a similar evolved response.

    But one can’t go the other way and say that this means that they will likely be peaceable, either. The actual level of aggression in such an encounter may well be a crapshoot. For all we know, a critter with a small brain like your typical sauropod might have evolved an automatic instinct for aggression towards anything unfamiliar of a certain size. (And it would actually more more likely for young sauropods, who would be threatened by human-sized raptor dinosaurs, to be aggressive).

  73. Mathias R.

    Wait.. damn, I did write something similar about 7 months ago on reddit O_o

  74. David K

    So, going back to the original point of Phil’s article — Are the producers guilty of any real “bad astronomy”, or just of depicting “science whiz-kid teenage daughter” as an idiot? I think it is the latter, with a generous helping of bad science in fields other than astronomy.

  75. David in England

    @Harold (23)….completely agree, it was my first reaction on seeing the trailers.

    Bring on the Firvulag !

  76. Sludgehammer

    What I always wonder about with time travel type plots is how does the time machine/wormhole/plot doodad “know” to hit earth? They even sorta cover this with the “stars being different” point, the Earth is in an entirely different part of the galaxy. So apparently, the time fracture somehow managed to track down and stably connect to a moving ball of rock, around a moving sun, in a moving galaxy, light years away, several million years in the past.

  77. Renee Marie Jones

    So, imdb has some faq that they claim are from the producers. Supposedly the portal is one-way, but they can communicate back because “radio waves have no mass.”

    OMG. I must admit I only watched the first half of the first show, but this whole thing is too hokey for me. I guess it had to be one-way so they couldn’t arrest the father and send him back. Sorry, seems like a cop-out to me.

  78. Donald Simmons

    My big problem (of many) with the show is that Jim is (as my brother puts it) the Designated Hero. He’s always right and always saves the day, and that makes for a boring character.

    Yes, you can say the same about Sheriff Carter on Eureka, but that show isn’t meant to be taken seriously for a moment.

  79. tacitus

    omino or Butterfly Effects sometimes seem a little overstated. Drop a pebble in a river and there’s no effect on the course of the river. Sure, altering something in the past can create exponential changes in the timeline, but it’s also possible that the changes are mitigated by the onrush of the surroundings.

    Indeed — if the colony was limited in scope and short-lived, then possibly so, but remember, it’s not just direct human impact we’re talking about, which could quickly be overwhelmed by natural forces, but the alteration of events themselves. We have no idea how many bottlenecks exist in Earth’s past — there were probably too many to count — any minor changes to which would send mammalian evolution on a different course. Perhaps if those bottlenecks all occurred thousands of mile away from any activity from the future, they would all remain intact, but even then, we don’t know how far or how quickly changes would ripple out.

    Especially since there’s a major “reboot” coming in 20 million years.

    Now this bit is definitely wrong. If the impact of future humans on the timeline was still evident after 20 million years, then it would undoubtedly survive an asteroid impact. Reboot isn’t even the right word, since nothing is reset or started again — the course of evolution merely deviates from the way it would have gone if the asteroid had no impacted at that time. Thus the conditions as existed the moment before the impact were still a major factor in what happened afterwards.

  80. tacitus

    No one’s actually mentioned the biggest problem with time travel yet.

    Jump back 85 million years into the past to the same point in the Universe you left, and you will find that you are tens of thousand of light years away from where Earth was at that time — a 1/3rd of the way its orbit around the Milky Way (not to mention the distance the galaxy itself has traveled through space in that time).

    As a writer one could get around that problem by requiring the time rift to be anchored in time and space, so that both ends are rooted on Earth, but I guess that not enough people worry about this little wrinkle to time travel to bother mentioning that.

  81. Zathras

    I haven’t seen the show yet, but I have to agree with the folks raising the point: what about the big honking rock headed their way in 20 million years? It may be a while, but they should have a long-term plan. Which goes right into my primary question:

    Putting my engineer’s hat on…..

    Wouldn’t it be less dangerous to build and colonize space colonies (either moon/Mars or L-point O’Neill colonies (like Babylon 5) ) rather than take the rather large longshot of time travel?

  82. Jeff B.

    Tacitus (#78)- you beat me to it. I read a short story decades ago (Asimov?) about the 1st time traveler… He set his machine for automatic return, and when he got back, his assistant found him dead- asphyxiated because he had appeared thousands of miles away from earth, in the depths of space.

    How would it even be conceivable that such a “time rift” be somehow anchored to a moving object (Earth), on both ends?

  83. private investigator

    tacitus (80): I think you are assuming that there is some kind of absolute space, in which everything is moving, but we have no reasons to believe that there is such thing. In your local frame of reference Earth is static and moving in time (that is: in the direction of your local arrow of time) would not take you elsewhere.

  84. CB

    Um, about the “butterfly effect”… I do think it’s unclear whether a tiny event would significantly change the future. The potential is there, but a necessary outcome? I don’t think so. However, we’re not talking about a broken twig or a pebble dropped in a stream. We’re talking about the introduction of a non-indigenous species whose arrival in their own time marked the beginning of a massive extinction event (which given the crapsack world of the future depicted, I would imagine had ramped up to being one of the top extinction events in history).

    Already as of Episode 2 they’ve relocated the breeding grounds for an entire species, with no apparent concern for what makes a good breeding ground or not for the species. And no more concern possible than what clues they could have gleaned from 24 hours of biological and behavioral study.

    With no restrictions on birth rate and a plan to establish humanity’s future, it seems obvious they seem intent on building a new human civilization. One that plays nicer with nature than on the first attempt, it can be inferred, but nevertheless you plop even the nicest human civilization down in the Cretacious and that’s hardly a pebble in the stream — it’s a dam.

    @ tacitus:

    Just because it’s something most people don’t think of when talking about time travel doesn’t mean it’s a problem. In a way it makes more sense that the two ends of the rift would follow the earth’s path through space, because that requires the least amount of pissing in the face of Conservation of Energy when you send someone through. Still quite a bit though… which is the main reason this isn’t a problem…. It’s a plot device that essentially operates via magic, so on what basis could someone say it can’t work that way after having accepted the premise?

  85. QuietDesperation

    Wouldn’t it be less dangerous to build and colonize space colonies (either moon/Mars or L-point O’Neill colonies (like Babylon 5) ) rather than take the rather large longshot of time travel?

    Putting my pragmatic engineer facing limited time, budget and resources hat on:

    Given an existing time portal to a entire habitable planet? No, not really.

    Supposedly the portal is one-way, but they can communicate back because “radio waves have no mass.”

    That’s how the Stargates worked. Mass one way, radio two way. Eh… sure, why not.

  86. Given that this is a FOX TV production… Anyone notice that in the new timeline, the creationist museum is now correct?

    “See! Humans did live alongside dinosaurs! (Just in another timeline.) We were right all along…” I also note that the ‘hero’ is the kind of jerkass that congenitally flouts antipolution laws if they inconvenience him; and doesn’t care that doing so inconveniences milions of other people. I assume that this will never be brought up. Along with the concept that it was people just like him (Go Tea Party!) ignoring and outright sabotaging anti-pollution efforts for 150 years that screwed up the planet.

    Lastly I assume that dispite the idea that having a third child is some kind of terrible crime, I assume the word ‘abortion’ is never going to be raised.

    No. Of course not. That might upset some fox viewers.

  87. QuietDesperation

    Rule 1 in arguing about time travel details: Do not bother arguing about time travel details.

    Rules 2 – N: GOTO Rule 1.

    Yeah, I used a GOTO. Deal with it.

    —————–

    No. Of course not. That might upset some fox viewers.

    You are confusing Fox News with Fox Television, the latter being the home of Family Guy which regularly makes fun of religion and has musical numbers advocating the legalization of pot.

    You might want to dial down the ideology knob in your brain a bit.

  88. “Terra Nova” is our guilty pleasure this Fall. It’s got Stephen Lang, the bad guy from “Fern Gully,” oops I mean “Avatar,” as the paramilitary boss of the new world. Without pretense to subtlety the writers have forwarned us that “all is not as it seems” so we’ve dubbed it “‘Lost’ in ‘Jurassic Park.’” Until it gets better or gets cancelled it’ll have to do.

  89. Chris

    The fracture in time is moving the moon closer!

    I do give them credit for at least having some sciency talk in the show and have it mostly correct. Much better than the miniseries where the moon was going to collide with the Earth. I’ve seen drunk students have a better grasp on reality than those writers did on that show.

    I’ll still watch too, although the family aspect does kind of ruin it for me. What stupid thing will the kid do this week that will endanger everyone.

    @10 Hootie and 54 Phil
    They mentioned in the pilot they can can communicate with the future (request supplies, personnel), so it must be like the stargate, radio can go both ways but matter is just one way.

  90. tacitus

    In a way it makes more sense that the two ends of the rift would follow the earth’s path through space, because that requires the least amount of pissing in the face of Conservation of Energy when you send someone through. Still quite a bit though… which is the main reason this isn’t a problem…. It’s a plot device that essentially operates via magic, so on what basis could someone say it can’t work that way after having accepted the premise?

    Oh, I agree entirely about the plot device issue, but not so sure about the conservation of energy issue though. Wouldn’t that assume that both ends of the rift were traveling through space at the same speed and vector, which would almost certainly not be the case.

    But then you would have the spectacle of people flying off into space (or splatting into the ground) as they passed through the portal. Messy…

  91. Chris

    Missing people (like the kid’s girlfriend seems dumb) why don’t they let the people send a few emails to family and friends they left behind. A quick data burst would work fine.

  92. Michael Simmons

    I don’t know why they invoke time travel and separate time lines.
    They just have to “slide” sliders style into an alternative universe where the big bang occurred 85 million years later. No time travel at all.
    If there is a multiverse that contains all possible universes then an infinite number of parallel universe that started later than our exists.

  93. @87: “You are confusing Fox News with Fox Television,”

    From the Wikipedia page:
    Fox Broadcasting Company, commonly referred to as Fox Network or simply Fox (and stylized as FOX),[1][2] is an American commercial broadcasting television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

    Apparently I’m not getting anything confused.
    Also, you mentioned Family Guy? Yeah, about that… Not the best example:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/19/family-guy-abortion-hadley-freeman

    Irrispective of politics, they shouldn’t introduce concepts into a show if they’re unwilling to follow through on them. That’s just lame.

  94. Party Cactus

    If I can add a few botanical nitpicks, I noticed that they were found wild dragon fruit (or pitaya if you prefer) in the booze making scene. In the third episode wiz kid girl mentions that the lemon pie she made wasn’t made of actual lemon, raising the question as to how many useful crop plants they took back. You would think they would take lemon back before dragon fruit (they clearly took oranges back), leading me to believe that it was supposed to be a prehistoric fruit of some sort, which is not possible as the dragon fruit’s family, the cactus family, evolved much later on than their time period. They also ate something that was clearly from the Annona genus, looked like an atemoya, and I wonder if those were around then either (especially considering atemoya is a man made hybrid). It is possible that they took the fruits with them of course and the dragon fruit simply seed got out, but it is a bit strange that they’d take them but not lemons, which is why I think those were meant to be prehistoric fruits, sort of like how the kiwanos and tamarillos in Star Trek were alien fruits. Even if they did take the fruit with them, I would wonder what at that period would be eating fruit and dispersing seed if the plants naturalized and made it that far out into the jungle in only a decade though. I’m no paleobotanist so I could be way off on this, but I would assume that fruits (the juicy sweet ones in the culinary sense) would not have evolved without mammals, as they are typically the main dispersers of fruit borne seed. If for example you look at New Zealand I’m fairly certain it has no native fruit species (again, all flowering plants have botanical fruit, I’m speaking what we’d consider a fruit in daily speech) as a result of their historic lack of mammals, in contrast to the abundance of edible fruits you’d find native to Australia, and I would wonder what reptiles of the time would think to eat them, and you’d assume they’d be fliers if the dragon fruits were cultivated in the encampment. Then again, I have no idea what an ancient flying reptile would eat so what do I know?

    They also mention wild sorghum in the third episode, and there shouldn’t be any sorghum then either. Fortunately, Poaceae (the grass family) I think was around then, or else accurate filming would have been pretty hard. And Sarraceniaceae (pitcher plant family) did exist then, so I guess the potted plant the little girl had in the third episode is at least plausible. Herbaceous plants don’t fossilize well so there’s wiggle room there.

    I didn’t pay much attention to the background plants, which is probably for the best, because no one but us plant geeks pay attention to plants anyway (and even if they did, removing all anachronistic plants would make filming outdoors pretty tough). Then again, maybe I’m just nit-picky.

  95. Jared Eisenmann

    I have so far, enjoyed the show. I like dinosaurs (even bad CGI ones), I like character driven stories, and I like odd phenomenon/mysteries. Supposedly, they chose the time-period because it was unknown for the most part; and rather than calling the dinos by their name; to avoid that- simply calling them ‘slashers’ and the like. So it seems that the writers are at least conscious that there are nit-picking nerds out there, but not always taking the extra step of getting actual experts in to avoid, preferring to write their way around the issues. So far; there are a few whoppers out there.

    So far, my biggest questions/problem are:
    1) If they sent a probe back in time, with the hopes of finding it in the present- and when they didn’t find it; how did they know it went back at all? Maybe it went forward in time, like in the ‘Time Machine’. I’ll assume that the portal is 2-way like in stargaze for energy/particles but not for matter, and they used a TN version of a MALP; but some sort of explanation eventually might be nice. If the bridge is 1 way, like the stargaze; then I can see a few closed loop-holes; namely that it isn’t that 2 way travel is impossible, it is just that they don’t have the resources to build a machine on the other side to allow 2-way travel. We don’t know what it involves sending them there; but it seemed like quite a large complex to generate that stable aperture. It also could explain the gap in time between when the first and second people when through- needed some bug-fixes in the next release to more accurately aim their tardis. But it raises another question; what is the gap between human arrivals? Obviously they need time on the receiving end to handle the influx of people; but you have to imagine if they can go 85 mya they can aim it a few weeks/months in either direction to facilitate more people leaving 2150 Earth faster.

    2) How did they establish it was in a separate time-stream? Not finding a probe after 85 million years can’t be that surprising, can it? Isn’t that a big leap to make? And more importantly, how do you test for that?

    3) If population controls are so strict; wouldn’t it be fairly obvious to anyone around that someone is pregnant for the third time? Wouldn’t they take some sort of extra measure, like BC pills, tube-tying; or the 2150 equivalent? Or would that be too intrusive?

  96. Brian Too

    @32. QuietDesperation,

    We have a show with an unexplained, perfectly safe and usable, accept it or p*ss off, “fracture in time”, and you’re worrying that the portrayed pollution of the Earth is caused by corporations? Making them look bad??

    Besides, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the show ever said that the pollution was ’caused by corporations’. The idea was that humanity ruined the Earth, not that any special bad actor needed to be singled out and spanked.

    Also, Jurassic Park was released in 1993. What was hard then is comparatively easy now. While I agree that plot and character development need to be prominent over the FX, the reality is that Phil is right. There have been so many movies, TV shows, games and all the rest with excellent special effects, that a practical minimum bar has been set.

    Yeesh, the original Dr. Who was lampooned even in it’s day for the lowbrow special effects. The fans know this and make allowances. The BBC was renowned for superior acting and scripts and inferior budgets and sets.

    Now compare to the modern Dr. Who. The show has style and polish. The production values are miles ahead of the show’s campy roots.

  97. David

    Character driven stories suck unless the characters are interesting. That’s why SG:U was tedious. The only interesting character was Rush. The show needs to be story driven. Without a story there is nothing driving the character interactions. Listening to people talk about their boring lives does not interest me.

    The time portal is a huge deus ex. “Hey we destroyed the Earth but this time portal conveniently appeared to get us out of this jam”, ya right. They’re going to have to come up with better stories and they need to play up the whole mysterious symbols and what’s really going on theme. In other words, become more like Lost.

  98. Messier Tidy Upper

    Come to think of it though, with that late Cretaceous full Moon sitting fat and bright in the sky, it would wash out all the stars, and the family wouldn’t have seen any at all anyway.

    Actually you can see at least the brighter stars and planets during the full Moon phase. Fainter stars not so much but the main constellation patterns (eg. Southern Cross, Scorpius, Orion, Canis Major) can still be made out with the full Moon up. ;-)

    No light pollution either – or precious little – and imagine how different the Magellanic Clouds and Andromeda might look perhaps seen from very different angles. Guess M31 would be slightly further away but still.

    No Orion Nebula though (too young) or other current stra forming regions and, as noted, stellar proper motion – plus precession would make for very different star patterns. Most of our skies the spectral type B stars and all of the O-type stars would be missing though being too supermassive and fast evolving. (O stars live maximum 6 million years, B-6-300 million with hotter earlier types having shorter lives) All present then – 85 million years – would have gone SN by now and none now would yet have been born.

    Would be wondrous unspoiled and different skies to see. :-D

    Hope there’s some more good astronomy to come in the series. :-)

    Must admit a weakness for dinosaurs too even if, as someone has surely already mentioned, they’ve been somewhat confused and mixed with Cretacous and Jurassic ecosystems and species (eg. Sauropods = Jurassic mostly extinct by Creatacous) rather than strictly all the one geological era.

    Guess the alternate time line does permit a certain amount of wriggle room.

    Any excuse for some good SFX will be grasped no doubt! ;-)

    Plus the girl scientist can be forgiven, I think, for being fooled by the Moon illusion esp. if she hasn’t seen our Moon before and her explanationis kinda good science botched only by poor maths so, yeah, I’ll grant them that.

    (Nb. I’m avoiding commenting on other comments here – & even reading them – to avoid spoilers. Have seen only first three epsiodes as shown on Aussie TV.)

  99. Tim

    I found the show entertaining, but I thought the acting and writing was far worse than a B. Some of my nitpicks:

    1) The “two child” policy. Ignoring the ethics of the main characters violating it… the police barge in and tear their house apart, the family screams, acts terrified, hides the child in a vent, the father freaks out and attacks the cops, etc. It’s clearly implied that violating the policy has serious repercussions, perhaps including seizure of or harm to the child. But later, we find out that the mother still has the child, but can’t take her to the colony (which seems odd for an overpopulated world, but okay I can buy that bureaucracies don’t always make sense). Then during the cliched “you think you can come back after all this time and be my dad!” speech, we find out that they probably would have just been fined if the dad hadn’t attacked the cops. Umm.. okay? So the terror, the crying, hiding the child, attacking the cops… this was all over possibly paying a fine?? Okay. Maybe it’s supposed to drive home that the father is a real “rule breaker”… but it just makes him look like an idiot.

    2) On the butterfly effect… no real opinion on whether it would effect the future 85 million years later, but if there is a chance that it would… aren’t they potentially jacking up someone else’s timestream? Assuming people evolved in that timestream too, seems like a bit of a jerky thing to do. They may have just un-evolved billions of people (yes, I am mostly joking here)

    3) Any opinion on the potential strength of dinosaurs relative to modern vehicles, some at least lightly armored? At least in the pilot, the dinosaurs manage to just about tear the vehicles to pieces, granted it takes some time.

    But still an entertaining show, and I’m watching it. It’s pretty much Lost with dinosaurs, as far as I can tell.

  100. Messier Tidy Upper

    In case nobody else has linked already there was a previous discussion of the Terra Nova Moon issue here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/10/11/distant-full-moon-tonight/#comments

    BTW. For those astronomical newcomers who aren’t familiar with precession and proper motion see :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proper_motion

    &

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_precession_(astronomy)

    Incidentally, I wonder what the “Pole stars” would be 85 million years ago?

    There’d be no Polaris – too young as a supergiant now and unlikely to be the same point in the cycle with proper motion. (minimal though that’d be at its distance but still,) etc.. Unlikely for Canopus and Vega either – two bright stars that precession eventually makes into pole stars in this geological era – both being too young.

  101. QuietDesperation

    Must admit a weakness for dinosaurs too

    Meh, they’ve gotten boring for me. Overused. I’m generally not a fan of mindless monster types enemies anyway. The only good ones I can think of were the ones in the first Tremors film. They were actually sort of clever, and the movie is series of one upsmanship moves between the monsters and the people of a small desert town.

    Same overuse with zombies, although I was never a fan of them. The only zombie work I really liked was the book World War Z, and that’s mainly because the book focused on the characters who survived the zombie war (the book is supposed to be a collection of historical vignettes written a few years after the war and the world is recovering), and the zombies themselves were just a background force that drove the events.

    Vampires are in the done to death bin as well. I got sucked (ha!) into True Blood for two seasons but can’t get myself to start season 3. Meh.

    We need a new fictional enemy.

    —-

    The BBC was renowned for superior acting and scripts and inferior budgets and sets.

    Which… was… sort of my point… O~o

  102. QuietDesperation

    We have a show with an unexplained, perfectly safe and usable, accept it or p*ss off, “fracture in time”, and you’re worrying that the portrayed pollution of the Earth is caused by corporations? Making them look bad??

    I just thought it was silly and Captain Planetish. So sue me. The forest of smokestacks is an iconic cultural image. There’s little doubt what was implied.

    Also, Jurassic Park was released in 1993. What was hard then is comparatively easy now.

    It still takes talented and well compensated artists time to do these things. 3D CAD programs don’t have a “T-Rex” button you can just click. Do you know what goes into making a realistic creature from polygons? The internal kinematic structures? The rigging? Flexing the polygons realistically? The textures? Post rendering cleanup and processing?

    You should see the proprietary tools they built onto the Flash framework just to do the new My Little Pony cartoon, and that’s primarily flat 2D animation.

    While I agree that plot and character development need to be prominent over the FX, the reality is that Phil is right. There have been so many movies, TV shows, games and all the rest with excellent special effects, that a practical minimum bar has been set.

    And then there’s many smaller and independent films like Primer, Pi and The Exam with pittances for budgets, and yet are compelling speculative films. The latter film takes place entirely in a single room. Episodes of The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits still hold up today with almost no effects at all.

    ——–

    Fox Broadcasting Company, commonly referred to as Fox Network or simply Fox (and stylized as FOX),[1][2] is an American commercial broadcasting television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

    Yes, we all know that. You completely derped the point. And you needed to go to abortion to find one example of something they didn’t show, in an article that talks about how abortion is the one big remaining comedy taboo that NOBODY does. Seriously, at least turn the ideology knob down from 11.

    I’ll bet dollars to donuts they put that episode on the DVD.

  103. Doug

    BA nitpick: the very opening shot of the first episode was of the American flag on the moon.

    If it’s not gone already, it will be by 2149.

    But I guess it’s possible that we’ve returned to replace it in the next century and a half.

  104. Kaleberg

    How would the little girl know how big the moon usually was if no one had seen it from ground level in ages? This sounds like same problem as in “looks like it, tastes like it, sure glad I didn’t step in it”.

    P.S. I’d like to see a time travel movie that uses the butterfly effect as a positive plot driver. The team could be sent back to the past from some post-apocalypse earth to stop one particular butterfly from flapping its wings at the wrong time.

    P.P.S. The only human ever killed by an animal in Olympic National Park was killed by an herbivore, a mountain goat, and rather recently. (We knew that goat since he was a kid. He was never afraid of people and grew increasingly aggressive as he learned more about us.)

  105. Evil Merodach

    Another issue that hasn’t been mentioned — albeit it’s not astronomical — is the presence of angiosperms. Flowering plants, including deciduous trees and grasses, hadn’t appeared 85 mya, yet the majority of plants on the show seem to be angiosperms. One episode even mentions flowers.

    To be fair it would difficult to show epoch-appropriate plants but it’s still a peeve.

  106. Bren

    geez! it’s called “fiction” for a reason.
    Can’t we just be entertained by a new show that isn’t CSI or Law and Order.

  107. RAF

    Phil?….you liked stargate Universe?

    You really are hard up for TV SF ain’t ya. :)

  108. Paul

    QuietDesperation writes:

    In 2149? Is that even rational? Here in Los Angeles we went from brown skies and smog alerts in the 1980s to seeing the mountains regularly and ending smog alerts as useless in just 20 years. Do they explain this reversal in clean air policy, or is it just the Captain Planet hyperbolic INDUSTRY AMS TEH EVILS! approach?

    There are those who claim that enviromentalism is a pointless luxury that only wealthy countries can afford. There are nations that are making no attempt to control polution and do not appear likely to start. Promising to abolish the EPA is necessary to win over the Tea Party, whose support is necessary to anyone hoping for the Republican presidential nomination.

    So, yeah, I can imagine humanity polluting itself to death with the environmental movement having been just a temporary abberation.

  109. Paul

    Evil Merodach wrote:

    Another issue that hasn’t been mentioned — albeit it’s not astronomical — is the presence of angiosperms. Flowering plants, including deciduous trees and grasses, hadn’t appeared 85 mya, yet the majority of plants on the show seem to be angiosperms. One episode even mentions flowers.

    According to Wikipedia:

    The ancestors of flowering plants diverged from gymnosperms around 245–202 million years ago, and the first flowering plants known to exist are from 140 million years ago. They diversified enormously during the Lower Cretaceous and became widespread around 100 million years ago, but replaced conifers as the dominant trees only around 60–100 million years ago.

  110. Mike

    I couldn’t get past the commercial. I keep hearing “Golgafrincham B Ark” in the back of my head.

    “the spurious tales of impending doom which enabled the people of Golgafrincham to rid themselves of an entire useless third of their population. The other two-thirds stayed firmly at home and lived full, rich and happy lives until they were all suddenly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.”

    I wonder if any of the effect people will put Slartibartfast’s signature in a glacier as an easter egg?

    God I miss Douglas Adams.

  111. It can’t be our past. They have grass everywhere. I remember when BBC filmed Walking With Dinosaurs they had a hard time finding place without grass. There was no grass in dino time.

  112. QuietDesperation

    @Paul

    Eh, OK, sure, why not.

    However, IMHO, it was the GOP that co-opted the Tea Party, and not the other way around. People need to pay closer attention to what is actually happening and not what they are told is happening.

  113. “2) On the butterfly effect… no real opinion on whether it would effect the future 85 million years later, but if there is a chance that it would… aren’t they potentially jacking up someone else’s timestream?”

    In Thrice Upon a Time by James P. Hogan, where there is no time travel but one can send information back in time, one character says that this should be done very carefully even for very small bits of information because it is not clear what the outcome might eventually be. Another character asks how this is different from daily life without time communication. :-)

  114. VJBinCT

    Another thing: days were shorter then (but admittedly not that much). Tidal friction has been slowing down the rotation of the earth. Watches from 2149 would not be accurate.

    I remember back in the 60′s, from a course in solar system astrophysics, that certain corals (I think) showed daily ‘growth rings’ and annual cycles, so that it was possible to conclude that in that era the year had somewhat over 400 days. I’m guessing that would have been over 300 MA ago.

    But still a detail worth mentioning in the context of lunar orbit change for the same reason

  115. Fedos

    @Hootie: Have you read Lies, Inc. (expanded from The Unteleported Man) by Phillip K. Dick? It uses a similar construct as the central plot element. An organization claims to have to a have a one way teleporter to a distant eden-like planet. Whether there is actually a teleporter and whether there is actually a planet on the other end is an essential question for the first half of the book, before it becomes all psychedelic.

  116. noen

    QuietDesperation said:
    However, IMHO, it was the GOP that co-opted the Tea Party, and not the other way around. People need to pay closer attention to what is actually happening and not what they are told is happening.

    Actually it was the Koch bros financed (and headed by Dick Army) “Freedom Works” that funded the Tea Party. Going so far as to bus them in for protests. The Koch brothers are seriously nutty John Birch Society, fluoride in the water is sapping our precious bodily fluids, level crazy. They have a lot of power and money but the GOP is not monolithic. There are many who are disturbed by what they want to do.

  117. Gary Ansorge

    Watched it. Thought it was,,,ok,,,

    ,,,though if I wrote it, I’d place it about 10,000 years before the “big Impact”, just to put a bit of pressure on the humans to build a civilization capable of getting the frak OFF the planet.

    Gary 7

  118. Daniel J. Andrews

    Haven’t watched it, and won’t till it is all out on DVD (hate waiting week to week, then getting repeats, or other special presentations bumping it etc), but based on the still pics, why haven’t they added feathers, colours, dino fuzz to some of the dinosaurs (e.g. the theropods)? Time to get the dinos up-to-date with the fossil evidence.

    Coincidentally, last night I read that the moon was receding from us at 4 cm/yr in Brian Cox’s book Why Does E=mc^2? I thought that was a bit much so I did the math, and realized even if that rate had remained constant, it wouldn’t have made a big difference in how the moon looked a few million years ago (which I knew because Phil’s recent post on the apogee perigee mentioned how much the orbit differed). I love it when new knowledge comes together. [/chomps cigar]

  119. Jen H.

    @Brian Too: “There have been so many movies, TV shows, games and all the rest with excellent special effects, that a practical minimum bar has been set.”

    Movies and games have much longer production schedules for VFX. For example, there was one 16-second VFX shot for Kevin Costner’s THE GUARDIAN that took nine months and over 20 people to create.

    In contrast, broadcast production schedules give their crews mere days to add VFX to a shot. In that context, I think the TERRA NOVA set extensions, matte paintings, CG environments and creature FX are pretty amazing for a weekly broadcast TV show.

  120. QuietDesperation

    Actually it was the Koch bros financed (and headed by Dick Army) “Freedom Works” that funded the Tea Party.

    OK. That doesn’t really go against anything I said, but, fine.

    ——-

    Haven’t watched it, and won’t till it is all out on DVD (hate waiting week to week

    I watch everything on DVD or streaming now for that reason, and also to not waste my time with series that don’t survive one season.

  121. Nigel Depledge

    Chris Lindsay (5) said:

    I wonder if any of these folks that go back in time are at all concerned that a giant, cosmic, splat is coming down on them? Granted they have about 15-20 million years, but their descendants are going to be bummed out if they don’t have some sort of asteroid defense system in place by then.

    But everyone knows that the mammals survived the K-T event, right . . . ?

  122. Nigel Depledge

    Bren (108) said:

    geez! it’s called “fiction” for a reason.
    Can’t we just be entertained by a new show that isn’t CSI or Law and Order.

    You obviously don’t get it.

    Where they use fiction, then fine, whatever.

    Where they attempt to tie their fiction to known facts, they could at least make an effort to get those facts right. It is quite obvious that they didn’t even try to get the explanation for why the stars are different right.

  123. What bugs me about this show is how they stole my idea (well, ok, they didn’t really STEAL it, they just came up with a similar idea at the same time).

    My idea was a group of people who became stranded in the past with dinosaurs (65 million years ago instead of 85 million, and, as it turns out, about 430 years before the asteroid impact), and they have to survive and end up building a human civilization in the Cretaceous.

    Of course, mine was a bit more realistic. In fact the whole Moon thing was in my story too, but because it is about the same apparent size at today, the characters don’t initially think they’re in the distant past. They also use the length of the day (they have wristwatches and after a few days realize the Sun in setting about 20 minutes earlier each day), to calculate how far back in time they really are.

    Also, the main conflict was not over being chased by dinosaurs (Jurassic Park has been done, guys!), but over the issue of survival and over possible temporal paradoxes. Over the centuries, the issue of temporal paradox divides the civilization between those who think that they need to be careful or else they might inadvertently wipe out future human civilization (and thus their subjective past), and those who think they don’t need to be because it’s really a parallel universe or maybe predestination timeline where everything they do only fulfills the past.

    Eventually they discover the asteroid is heading towards Earth and have to decide what to do about it (no spoilers).

    So yeah, a bit miffed.

  124. Ronster666

    I was hoping, in vain as it turns out, for a show that focuses on how civilization would survive in the distant past. How do they decide what is safe to eat, where are they located, what animals and plants are there that we know nothing about now. We probably know of only a very small percentage of the animal and plant species that were present 85M years ago. That leaves a lot of latitude for creating new flora and fauna. Unfortunately the producers felt it necessary to formulate an enemy group so they could have a war going on. We have enough violence on TV now. How about something that stimulates thought and imagination.

    I have the same problem with the Survivor series. At first it showed much more of the ingenuity of surviving, but now it is 99% interpersonal relationships. The show has survived a long time, so I’m probably in the minority feeling this way.

  125. Tony

    I thought the same about the Moon explanation when I watched the pilot (even calculating it out and being unimpressed with the difference) as well as wondering why she used the universe’s expansion to explain why the stars looked different.

    But then I thought of my own childhood.

    I absolutely *loved* science, especially astronomy, in elementary school, and probably knew more random and trivial facts than my teachers or parents. But I didn’t quite know how to put them all together just yet. So, knowing the universe was expanding (and thinking how super-cool that was!) but maybe not knowing about galactic rotation, I might have used that to try to explain to the adults why the stars looked different. Same for the moon issue.

    I wonder if the writers know how kids and teenagers think, especially science nerds, and are actually playing into that. If we see the young lady learn some new fact and put 2+2 together about a previous explanation, that would confirm it. Or they may just be playing into what most adults still think are believable enough, if not very accurate, explanations for astronomical changes over the past 85 millions year.

  126. Messier Tidy Upper

    Wonder if there’s a deleted scene that goes as follows :

    *****

    Girl genius enters the room later sheepishly and says; “Mom, Dad? Y’know how I said the Moon was bigger here than in our world. I made a mistake, I’ve just calculated it and it’s not enough to make any noticeable difference after all. I’m sorry.”

    And the parents go “That’s okay, we still love you anyhow and everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Even the greatest scientists have get some things wrong.”

    *****
    It would add a bit more to the characterisation and correct the science but not advance the plot much. Guess we’ll have to wait till its out on DVD release for someone to tell us if there’s such a deleted scene (not)present or not. ;-)

  127. Dragonchild

    *cough* Planetes *cough*

  128. Jess Tauber

    Hubble Expansion means that point to point time travel won’t ever work. We only ASSUME that as the universe has expanded the dimensions of atoms and their parts have remained the same. For all we know electrons and nucleons are shrinking, and electrons infinitesimally spiral into atomic nuclei. One can figure out the rates by recasting the Hubble Expansion rate in terms of atomic radii, Planck units, or whatever.

    Our intrepid TerraNovan time travelers would have to be ballooned up a bit size-wise to travel to 85 million BP (not to mention as one earlier poster did that they would have to be pinpointed in space and time thousands of light years away relative to other matter).

  129. slw

    It’s mindless entertainment, the show is so cliched and predictable that it would be foolish to even treat it as a sci-fi show. Sci-Fi is about exploration, Terra Nova is about exploitation of other stories and explosions(also dinosaurs, but I could not find a synonym for them beginning in ex-). Scientific accuracy is not expected here any more than it is expected from the A-Team.

    That being said, Terra Nova is absolutely beautiful and despite, or possibly because everything I said above, very enjoyable.

  130. Jesse

    forget the science, the most disturbing thing was money.

    no society will have a monetary system when surrounded by abundance. the cop character even points this out when he asks “why would anyone steal ?” everyone gets a house and all the food they want. luxuries can be traded for, like a hat for the guitar.

    that doctor didnt ask for currency to finance research for some disease. she just did it. her daughter didnt have to pay for training to become a physician. the commander didnt have to pay for fruit. yet we’re supposed to believe they need a monetary system

    for a utopia attempt at starting over, they failed badly.

  131. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the opening zoom into Earth showing satellites that were way out of scale compared to Earth.

  132. DaveB

    Alternate timelines and effects of changes made to the past are wonderful plot devices, but I suspect if time travel ever becomes possible, the travellers wil find a disappointing (or reassuring, depending on ones point of view) lack of either. I personally think the universe is immune to paradox. Suppose that you went back intending to prevent (for example) a political assassination. You wont succeed, because it did happen and you were there at the time. The best you’ll manage is to be the reason conspiracy nuts in the relative future just wont let speculation about “a second gunman” die.

    Bottom line is best expressed with a Discworld quote “Whatever happens, stays happened.”

  133. James Chonga

    M-O-O-N! That spells an excellent “The Stand Reference”

  134. @Jen H #121: exactly. Personally I think Terra Nova has some of the better effects on TV. Comparing it to movies and that have not just more money, but also usually significantly more time for their effects seems like an unfair comparison.

    And comparing it to video games is even more unfair since the typical game is in production for years.

    (sorry for the late comment. getting caught up in my RSS feeds)

  135. Rick

    Re:
    Gary Says:
    October 17th, 2011 at 7:40 am
    Terra Nova has kind of a ‘Jericho’ feel to it with the stereotypical character types, the menacing secret lurking behind everything, and the soap opera plotting (teenager angst, especially). With a bit of Swiss Family Robinson thrown in it’s just a jumble of pieces that might never really sort out. I expect the “science” references will get worse as it goes along.

    Right on, Gary…you put your finger squarely on my problems w/this show – well said!

  136. udidn'tget it did you

    I feel sorry for people who can’t watch a show without looking for a reason not to like it. I thought it was awesome, it was a change of pace so sick and tired of criminal shows, tired of everything having to be about the cops and corruption. The acting was really good, no sex, no bad laugage heaven forbid we have a family show everyone can watch. IT WAS FICTION, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE REAL OR BASED ON REALITY, IT CALLED ENTERTAINMENT……. YOU REALLY NEED TO LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE.

  137. Joe

    “Unless a 10-km-wide asteroid wipes out the colony first. But they have 20 million years to see that coming…”

    No, remember they aren’t in a past that has any connection to their future. They are in an alternate quantum reality, so there isn’t necessarily any connection to Earth’s past. There may or may not be an extinction event.

  138. Bareheadedwoman

    okay so i’m a day late and a dollar short having just watched all of season one via netflix and found this blog looking for information about a season two.

    and the one thing i’ve walked away with, from this visit to comments, is….that given the general theme of egocentric comments, and the general run of glorious mediocrity now suffocating the frontier that was the web, I don’t have to go to 2149, or watch this show, to see their future in our own. Whole lot of fools just waiting in line to sign up with the Alliance.

    good googlymoogly i hope we find a time stream…or somethin’

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