WonderCon 2011: Steven Spielberg Wants to Take You To 'Terra Nova'

During the WonderCon panel for the upcoming sci-fi series Terra Nova, the guests talked at length about the show, some of its themes, and the difficulty of shooting in Australia on the Gold Coast. But the one issue they didn't touch on was the repeated delays of the show, which was originally supposed to bow last August, then this May, and has now been pushed back to this Fall. Instead, it was a very upbeat vibe from cast members Stephen Lang (Avatar), Jason O'Mara (Life on Mars), executive producer Brannon Braga (Star Trek), and executive producer/director Alex Graves (Fringe, The West Wing) as they discussed a show Braga describes as a "post-modern, sci-fi western."

Allow me to add, "with dinosaurs."

From the footage shown, the show has a mix of influences, from James Cameron's record-smashing blockbuster to Land of the Lost. From the official synopsis:

An epic family adventure 85 million years in the making, TERRA NOVA follows an ordinary family embarking on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a daring experiment to save the human race. In the year 2149 the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and overpolluted. With no known way to reverse the damage to the planet, scientists discover a portal to prehistoric Earth. This doorway leads to an amazing world, one that allows for a last-ditch effort to save the human race… a second chance to rebuild civilization and get it right this time.

Between this show and the upcoming Falling Skies on TNT, Steven Spielberg appears to be on something of a "survival sci-fi" kick. In this case, there's a broader theme about humans having the chance to make things right, according to Lang. Interestingly, the time portals and "making things right" might be at the heart of the show given all of the potential paradoxes and ramifications inherent in a scenario where humans are clashing with some of the earliest inheritors of the Earth. It also one of the most intriguing aspects of a series that already has post apocalyptic Earth and angry dinosaurs on the prowl, so that's saying something.

Lang's character, Commander Taylor, leads the expedition to the past and is in some ways broadly similar to the tough-talking jarhead character he played in Avatar. Commander Taylor may have something less of a crazed streak though, according to Lang, who describes the man as a "Daniel Boone type with an engineering and military background." The meshing of those two identities, the builder/thinker with the soldier, seem like rich territory for the actor to explore beyond the barking he-man he played in Avatar. However, Lang did joke that as with Avatar he was contractually mandated to deliver a gruff welcome speech to the new citizens of the colony.

Again, I'm interested here, I'd like to know more. So you'll see find me one of the potential viewers when the show premieres later this year.

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