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Terra Nova DVD Review - -
Terra Nova
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
Terra Nova DVD Review Aside from a few underwhelming episodes, Terra Nova is an enjoyable series, even if it is a bit of a guilty pleasure.

Feature 7.0
Video 8.0
Audio 8.0
Special features 7.0
Total 7.0
Distributor: Fox
Running Time: 575 Minutes
Reviewer: Sean Warhurst
: MA15+


Terra Nova the Complete Series

Expected to be one of the biggest shows of 2011, Terra Nova hit our screens with a bang, but by the end of the thirteenth episode the critically lambasted series limped off our screens forever. Now, with the release of the complete first season, you can come to your own conclusions as to whether the plug was pulled prematurely.

It’s 2149 and the world is in a bad state. Ravaged by environmental disasters and quickly dwindling natural resources, humanity teeters on the brink of extinction. Scientists discover a rift that can be used to travel 80 million years into the past to a land dubbed ‘Terra Nova’. When we come into the show, nine expeditions have been sent to Terra Nova and our main protagonists, the Shannon family, have been chosen as the tenth; well some of them have, anyway.

You see, due to having Totalitarian population control in place to curtail the use of resources, people are only allowed to have two children. The Shannon’s broke this law and when their third child, Zoe, was discovered, father Jim was arrested for assaulting the discovering officers. Languishing in prison, his wife Elisabeth stages a risky break out and the entire family absconds through the rift to start a new life together in Terra Nova. Despite being fugitives, the commander of the settlement, Nathaniel Taylor, allows them to stay as Elisabeth’s medical expertise is needed and the law that they’ve broken technically doesn’t exist yet. Chuck in a group of rebels who have splintered away from the settlement and, of course, the dinosaurs and you have an intriguing set up for the remainder of the season.

Starting the series off strong, the pilot episode moves at a vociferous pace and really draws you in. Unfortunately the quality takes a bit of a nosedive afterwards, suffering the same issues currently hampering another Spielberg production Falling Skies – Lacklustre writing, high production costs and a confused identity.

Terra Nova is, in essence, a children’s show playing dress up as a contemporary adult Sci-Fi series. It’s much too family friendly and this hamstrings any attempt to create a sense of danger and tension, which is the bread and butter of a series such as this. In a misguided attempt to cater to a variety of demographics, the show awkwardly shoehorns procedural crime solving and medical dramas into the series rather than focusing on the real draw of the show – The dinosaurs.

That’s not to say that the show isn’t enjoyable, only that it falls short of its potential. The premise is quite unique and at times the show really capitalises on it, but all too often it descends into a soap opera that happens to be set in the past. Trying to satisfy everyone led to the show lacking its own identity and a cohesive story; however, what it does get right works extremely well. After a dip in quality throughout the middle of the season, by the last few episodes the quality picks up again and reaches the lofty heights of that promising pilot.

Unfortunately there is no resolution by the end of the series due to its abrupt cancellation, so don’t go into the series expecting everything to be tied up into a neat little package. Ending on a cliff-hanger, the DVD has a code for a downloadable motion comic that closes out the story, a bit of fan service that shows the creators really care about their fan base.

Episode Listing:

Genesis Part 1&2


What Remains

The Runaway





Now you see me


Occupation/ Resistance Part 1 and 2 

Video & Audio Quality

Unsurprisingly considering the budget, the show looks great, falling just short of HD quality. Contrast is consistent and the image is clean and crisp. Colours are portrayed vividly, with the lush greens of the jungle really standing out. Sometimes the CGI can appear a little dodgy but for the most part it is of high quality; I only wish that we had the opportunity to see some more dinosaurs. Yep, I’m just a big kid, really. There are no visible signs of compression or bleeding at all.

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is suitably powerful. Lending presence to the scenes featuring dinosaurs, the sound positively shakes the foundations. Dialogue is clear and the soundtrack works well, adding credence to emotive scenes just as deftly as the action scenes. Top marks in all areas, this transfer is of the utmost quality.

Special Features

Despite Terra Nova’s early cancellation, the set comes with a veritable smorgasboard of extras, including deleted scenes, audio commentary on the episode ‘Occupation/ Resistance’ and some featurettes focusing on the production and the real stars of the show, the dinosaurs. As mentioned above the DVD also includes a code for the motion comic that serves as the true finale to the series, with branching choices that affect the outcome so you can tailor the finale to your own desires.

List of features:

Deleted Scenes – Disc 1 (9:15) Disc 3 (1:06)

Directors Diary – Making the Pilot (33:06)

Mysteries Explored (8:37)

Cretaceous Life: The Dinosaurs of Terra Nova (9:45)

Audio Commentary on Occupation/ Resistance

Gag Reel (3:01) 

Final Thoughts

Aside from a few underwhelming episodes, Terra Nova is an enjoyable series, even if it is a bit of a guilty pleasure. I can understand why the show wasn’t the smash hit it was expected to be, but it was still going through a period of adjustment and I really think a second season would have served it well, possibly even enticing some new viewers to give it a chance. As it is, we’re left with this comprehensive DVD set to revisit the world of Terra Nova at our leisure and lament what may have been.


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