From dystopia to utopia, or so it seems when a family from the year 2149 travels back 65 million years in FOX’s highly anticipated new series Terra Nova. But as any science fiction fan is aware, utopias seldom are.
The premiere episode “Genesis” gets off to a rip-roaring start as we observe a burnt out Chicago that would be at home in a Philip K. Dick novel—or in any end of the world sci-fi movie. Earth 2149: the air is unbreathable; it is a dark, dangerous planet where it is illegal in the U.S. to have more than two children. The simple things in life like oranges, cumulus clouds and a visible, bright moon are gone in an environment barely habitable. Although residents of this essentially destroyed Planet Earth have adapted to the food and lack of sunlight, they still need “re-breathers” that filter the air enough to make it breathable. Those that can afford it live in bubble-enclosed enclaves with fresh air and nice lifestyles.
Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara) is a police officer and his wife Elisabeth (Shelly Conn) is a prominent do-gooder physician. They have done the unthinkable (and illegal) in 22nd Century Chicago and had a third child three years earlier.
Now under investigation by the authorities, little Zoe (Alana Mansour) is found hiding behind a wall in the family’s small apartment when storm troopers ransack the family’s apartment.
Push comes to shove and suddenly Jim is in prison serving a six-year sentence. But when Elisabeth is invited to be part of Terra Nova, an experimental community safe from the environmental hazards of modern Earth two years into Jim’s sentence, there is a hitch: Zoe is not invited.
Terra Nova isn’t anywhere on Earth—or at least not in Earth’s present day. Following the discovery of a fracture in the time-space continuum (no Doctor Who or Torchwood jokes here, folks) and a portal within it that transports people backwards in time 65 million years into the past. Quite a find, giving the residents of Earth a second chance to not screw it up.
Oh yeah. Lest you think that by doing this bit of time travel you risk changing the future…er…present, a little bit of exposition explains that this isn’t just back in time, it’s an alternate “time stream” (I’m guessing a sort of parallel universe).