Fox October 3 (US); Sky 1 October 10 (UK)
Some mild spoilers
Jim Shannon tries to get laid, but things keep getting in the way…
It might be a little unfair to the episode to make that the synopsis, but it really does feel as if there are two completely different shows going on here – one a domestic drama about the Shannon family, and the other a series about how to survive 85 million years in the past, and how to cope with what a completely new set of scientific circumstances will throw at you. And unfortunately when it’s come down to the edit, the scenes that move the former plotline on have taken precedence over the latter.
On at least two occasions, there’s a terrific set up for an encounter between Shannon and the pterosaurs who are threatening the security of the Terra Nova base – and the next we know, we get told that he had a terrific fight. Once is possibly excusable, but to pull the same stunt twice is trying the audience’s patience.
Jim Shannon obviously got a lot of chance to work out when he was in jail – remember, this episode takes place a maximum of a week after he broke out from prison after serving two years – given the musculature on display during the number of times he takes his shirt off. We also get a potential new love interest for Mrs Shannon, which unfortunately is handled with every cliché in the book – up to and including the nerdy scientist in question refusing to come on a dangerous expedition alongside his love rival.
As for the much-vaunted effects, well, we’ve seen these creatures done on Primeval (and even to an extent on this week’s Doctor Who) – and the cast reacted a lot more credibly to them on that even in the first season. There have been comments online about the sense of wonder present in the pilot – notably the final scene – but that’s totally missing here.
Verdict: If this doesn’t become the adventure series it’s been promoted as, Fox are going to have a very expensive white elephant on their hands. 5/10
Read our review of the opening episodes here