Terra Nova (TV series)

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Terra Nova
Terra Nova on either side of an earth logo, on a black screen.
Created by
Developed by Mitch Kramer
Composer(s) Brian Tyler
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Mark H. Ovitz
  • Jeff Betancourt
  • Caroline Ross
  • Henk Van Eeghen, ACE
Location(s) Queensland, Australia
Cinematography Nelson Cragg
Running time 44 minutes
86 minutes (2 double episodes)
Production company(s)
Distributor 20th Television
Original network Fox
Picture format HDTV 720p
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
First shown in United States
Original release September 26 – December 19, 2011 (2011-12-19)

Terra Nova (English: New Earth) is an American science fiction drama television series. It aired one season from September 26 to December 19, 2011.[1][2] The series documents the Shannon family's experiences as they establish themselves as members of a colony, set up 85 million years in the earth's past, fleeing the dystopian overpopulated and hyperpolluted present of the mid-22nd century. The series is based on an idea by British writer Kelly Marcel[3] and was executive produced by Steven Spielberg. On March 5, 2012, Fox announced that it would end the series.[4]


The series is initially set in A.D. 2149, when overpopulation and declining air quality threaten all life on Earth. When scientists discover a temporal rift permitting (one-way) human transmission, they initiate a series of "pilgrimages" to a parallel "time stream" resembling Earth's Cretaceous Period.[5][6][7] The series focuses primarily on police officer James "Jim" Shannon, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children Josh, Maddy, and Zoë, as they join the colony there,[8][9] named "Terra Nova" (Latin for "New Earth" or "New World").

According to the story's premise, Elisabeth Shannon is chosen for her medical expertise, and her children with her. Her husband, imprisoned for violating population control by harbouring a third child and assaulting an official agent to protect his young daughter, stows away to join them and eventually convinces the colony's leader, Commander Nathaniel Taylor, that his own police expertise is of use to the administration. The colony places nominal emphasis on environmental responsibility.

Opposing the colony and its leader Taylor is a group of separatists known as the "Sixers", so called because they arrived in the "Sixth Pilgrimage", working in concert with corporate industrialists to strip the Cretaceous Earth of its resources and transmit them to 2149, allowing for massive profits at the cost of environmental destruction. It is later revealed that Commander Taylor's estranged grown son, Lucas, is the mastermind of this operation. Toward the end of the series, Lucas perfects travel to and from the future, thus enabling the industrialists, with a private army called "The Phoenix Group", to invade Terra Nova. At the end of the series, Jim Shannon returns to 2149 to destroy the gateway permitting travel to the Cretaceous, whereupon the Phoenix Group retreats to the nearby "Badlands", leaving behind a wooden ship's figurehead apparently located there by another temporal rift.



  • Jason O'Mara as James "Jim" Shannon, a former Chicago Police narcotics detective.[10] He is married to Elisabeth and is the father of their three children. After a lengthy imprisonment for breaking population-control laws in 2149, he escaped and rejoined his family in the Terra Nova colony, where he worked on the gardening division. After saving Commander Taylor from an assassination attempt, he joined Terra Nova's security forces,[11] eventually becoming third-in-command of the colony.[12]
  • Shelley Conn as Dr. Elisabeth Shannon, a trauma surgeon and chief medical officer of Terra Nova. She is married to Jim and is the mother of their three children.[10] In the series premiere, she was instrumental in Jim's escape from prison and arrival in Terra Nova.[11]
  • Landon Liboiron as Josh Shannon, Jim and Elisabeth's 17-year-old son. Reluctant to leave his girlfriend behind in 2149,[10] he initially resented his father;[11] but in later episodes they repair their relationship.
  • Naomi Scott as Maddy Shannon, Jim and Elisabeth's 16-year-old daughter.[13] Intelligent but socially-clumsy, and depicted principally either as her mother's student or the love interest of Mark Reynolds, a young soldier.
  • Alana Mansour as Zoë Shannon, the five-year-old daughter of Jim and Elisabeth Shannon.[10] Early in her life, she was kept hidden by her family, having been a third child and thus contravened the population control laws of 2149. When she was discovered, Jim was sent to prison. With the aid of a friend, Zoe was smuggled into Terra Nova and permitted to remain in the colony.
  • Christine Adams as Mira, the leader of the "Sixers", a rebel group that arrived with the Sixth Pilgrimage but who soon broke away to oppose Terra Nova[10] and to prepare for the Phoenix Group's invasion. Mira's daughter, Sienna, is still in 2149 and is held by Mira's employers to ensure her cooperation. Mira's ambition is to return to 2149 and have a comfortable and peaceful life with her daughter.[14]
  • Allison Miller as Skye Alexandria Tate, a veteran resident of Terra Nova from the Fifth Pilgrimage, and Josh's closest friend. Her parents reportedly died three years before the series begins, and she was subsequently adopted by Commander Taylor. She is later revealed to be a Sixer mole, being blackmailed by the Sixers who held her mother hostage and controlled the medicine which kept her alive.[15]
  • Rod Hallett as Dr. Malcolm Wallace, the chief science officer for the Terra Nova colony. Early in the first season, it is revealed that he recruited Elisabeth for Terra Nova, having earlier had a romantic relationship with her, and he was hopeful that she would leave her husband in prison in 2149.[16]
  • Stephen Lang as Commander Nathaniel Taylor, Terra Nova's head of state.[10] Himself the first colonist, Taylor survived 118 days alone, helped build a community as new settlers arrived, and has been the colony's leader for seven years. When Skye's parents died, he became her legal guardian and father figure.[17] Taylor's relationship with his son, Lucas, has degraded severely since an incident in 2138 in which Taylor was forced to sacrifice his wife to enemy fire. Lucas arrived in Terra Nova on the Second Pilgrimage, but plotted against his father to destroy the colony, and has since re-appeared as antagonist.


  • Caroline Brazier as Deborah Tate. Under the cover story that she died in a fever epidemic, she was abducted by the Sixers and held hostage to force her daughter Skye to spy on Taylor and the colonists. Later in the first season, she was rescued by the soldier Curran and returned to the colony.
  • Emelia Burns as Lieutenant Laura Reilly, a member of Terra Nova's security forces and an expert at defusing bombs.
  • Damien Garvey as Tom Boylan, a bartender and former soldier who occasionally trades with the Sixers. Often secretive and abrasive, he operates minor crime but proves loyal to Terra Nova when the Phoenix Group invades.
  • Dean Geyer as Private (later Corporal) Mark Reynolds, a soldier under Taylor's command and eventually the suitor of Maddy Shannon. He is a competent soldier and able survivalist, but often uncertain of his own position, and therefore formal, when interacting with Maddy and her father Jim.
  • Simone Kessell as Lieutenant Alicia "Wash" Washington, the second-in-command to Nathaniel Taylor. She had served with Taylor for several years prior to her assignment to Terra Nova.[18] In the season finale, she was reduced by the Phoenix Group to menial status and later killed by Lucas Taylor for abetting the Shannon family's escape from the settlement.
  • Peter Lamb as Casey Durwin, a tradesman that works in Terra Nova's market and a former member of the U.S. army. He operates a motorized wheelchair, allegedly having lost his legs to a Carnotaurus.
  • Sam Parsonson as Hunter Boyce, a teenager that lives in Terra Nova and came on the 5th Pilgrimage. He is once injured by an Acceraptor (a fictional species of dromeosaur), and once contracts a 30-ft. tapeworm-like parasite of which he is relieved by Elisabeth and Skye.
  • Romy Poulier as Kara, Josh's girlfriend from 2149. She was unable to join the Shannons on the Tenth Pilgrimage in the series premiere, whereafter Josh cut a deal with the Sixers to bring her to Terra Nova. She eventually arrived with the Eleventh Pilgrimage, but was killed shortly thereafter by the Phoenix Group who used a suicide bomber upon arrival.
  • Rohan Nichol as Weaver, a senior associate of Lucas and the Phoenix Group. He commanded the mercenary forces that invaded Terra Nova in the season finale. Thereafter he returned to 2149, but was slain by a juvenile Carnotaurus brought to the future by Jim.
  • Jay Ryan as Tim Curran, a member of Terra Nova's security team. Banished from the colony for murdering a fellow soldier named Ken Foster, Curran was later encountered by Taylor in the local jungle, who saves Curran from an 'Ancestral Komodo'. Thereafter Taylor employed him to infiltrate the Sixers' camp, whence he rescued Deborah Tate. In recognition of Curran's actions, he was readmitted to Terra Nova.
  • Matt Scully as Dunham, a member of Terra Nova's security team.
  • Damian Walshe-Howling as Carter, a member of the Sixers who was once injured and captured at Terra Nova. After escaping, he made an attempt on Nathaniel Taylor's life and was stopped by Jim Shannon, and released during a trade with the Sixers.
  • Ashley Zukerman as Lucas Taylor,[19] the estranged, deceptive, and vengeful son of Nathaniel Taylor, and the main antagonist of the series. A brilliant yet unstable physicist hired by the Phoenix Group to assist their invasion of the alternate, past Earth, for which he remained there at some length, periodically revealing the results of his calculations. During the finale, his plans were counteracted by Jim Shannon, and Lucas is himself wounded by Skye and not seen again.


No.  Title  Directed by  Written by  Original air date  Production
U.S. viewers
1 "Genesis (Part 1)" Alex Graves Story by: Kelly Marcel & Craig Silverstein
Teleplay by: Craig Silverstein, Kelly Marcel, Brannon Braga & David Fury
September 26, 2011 (2011-09-26) 1ASW01 9.22[20]

In 2149, policeman Jim Shannon is sentenced to six years in prison for assaulting a Population Control officer after Jim and his wife Elisabeth were discovered to have a third child when families are now restricted to two. Two years into Jim's sentence, Elisabeth is recruited to travel 85 million years back in time with the Tenth Pilgrimage to Terra Nova (a prehistoric colony that is attempting to reinvent the past for a better future) albeit with the necessity to co-exist with dinosaurs. With only teenagers Josh and Maddy allowed to go with her, Elisabeth helps Jim escape from prison so that he and their five-year-old daughter, Zoe, can accompany the family into the past. Once in Terra Nova, Jim meets Commander Nathaniel Taylor, who, displeased by Jim's arrival, assigns him to work in the agriculture group. Meanwhile, Josh meets a group of rebellious, though independent, teens, including a girl named Skye, while Elizabeth starts treating patients in the medical center.

Note: This episode was aired immediately before "Genesis (Part 2)" without intervening credits.
2 "Genesis (Part 2)" Alex Graves Brannon Braga & David Fury September 26, 2011 (2011-09-26) 1ASW02 9.22[20]

The enemy group called the Sixers is introduced. The Sixers arrived during the Sixth Pilgrimage, but for unknown reasons, they oppose Terra Nova's existence. After their hidden cache of weapons was found, the group broke away, forming a rival colony. When Carter, a captured Sixer, escapes and attempts to assassinate Commander Taylor, Jim subdues him, resulting in Taylor assigning Jim to his security team. The Sixers, led by Mira, arrive at Terra Nova fleeing a Carnotaurus attack to negotiate a trade: Carter and medical supplies in exchange for meteoric ore. Meanwhile, Skye and her friends invite Josh on a secret excursion into the jungle where they keep an alcohol still. At a waterfall, Skye shows Josh some unusual rock carvings, but requests he tell no one about them. The teens are stranded after Sixers steal their vehicle's power cells, and a pack of slashers (a common name for the fictional Acceraptors) suddenly attack. Tasha panics and runs off, and Hunter and Max are injured, leaving Josh and Skye to fend off the vicious creatures. Jim, Taylor, and a rescue team find Tasha, and arrive in time to save the others. Back in Terra Nova, Josh and Jim reconcile their differences. Taylor inquires if Skye and the others went to the waterfall, though Skye claims they did not. Mira finds rock carvings that look suspicious. She tells her man that it is carved by Taylor's son (who disappeared from Terra Nova couple of years ago) and that he makes them to show his father he is close to finishing some study.

Note: This episode was aired immediately after "Genesis (Part 1)" without intervening credits.
3 "Instinct" Jon Cassar René Echevarria & Brannon Braga October 3, 2011 (2011-10-03) 1ASW03 8.73[21]
When a previously unknown species of pterosaur start appearing en masse, it is discovered that Terra Nova was built on their breeding ground. A search is underway for a way to stop them attacking the colony. Also, Jim discovers that Elisabeth's former college flame, Dr. Malcolm Wallace, now in Terra Nova, may have recruited her, apparently expecting Jim would still be incarcerated back in 2149. Josh spends more time with Skye, but misses his girlfriend, Kara and the band mates he left behind. Maddy asks Jim for some fatherly advice about boys after Mark Reynolds shows an interest in her.
4 "What Remains" Nelson McCormick Brynn Malone October 10, 2011 (2011-10-10) 1ASW05 7.00[22]
While investigating the sudden radio silence at a nearby research outpost, Elisabeth, Jim, Malcolm, and Commander Taylor discover that a mysterious and fatal virus causing severe memory loss and catatonia has infected the staff there. Only Jim remains uninfected, as Elisabeth races to find a cure while she is still cognizant. Also, more is learned about Commander Taylor's past in Somalia. Josh and Skye are romantically attracted, but Josh quickly ends the budding relationship, telling Skye he wants to get his girlfriend, Kara, to Terra Nova. Skye introduces Josh to bar owner Tom Boylan, who may be able to help Josh get Kara to Terra Nova on a future pilgrimage, but for a high price. Later, Boylan is seen negotiating with the Sixers.
5 "The Runaway" Jon Cassar Barbara Marshall October 17, 2011 (2011-10-17) 1ASW06 8.31[23]
When an orphaned "Sixer" girl named Leah Marcos (Morgana Davies) seeks asylum in Terra Nova, Jim and Taylor disagree over whether she can be trusted. Taylor also suspects a traitor is in his midst. Meanwhile, Mira plots to regain a valued possession, and later reveals more to Jim about why Terra Nova was actually established. Also, Reynolds confesses his feeling towards Maddy.
6 "Bylaw" Nelson McCormick Paul Grellong October 31, 2011 (2011-10-31) 1ASW04 6.59[24]
After security operative Ken Foster is killed at a utility outpost by a nykoraptor trapped inside the shed, Jim suspects it was not accidental, and begins investigating the colony's first murder. A suspect named Howard Milner readily admits he killed Foster, and Taylor banishes him from the colony. Jim soon comes to doubt Milner's confession, believing he may have been protecting his wife, who had an affair with the victim that ended badly. Meanwhile, Josh starts working at Tom Boylan's bar, but Boylan says Mira wants an even higher price for reuniting Josh with Kara. Josh and Skye secretly meet with Mira to discuss bringing Kara to Terra Nova. Elsewhere, Elisabeth and Zoe work to save an unborn Ankylosaurus. When Curran, a soldier, is proven to have killed Foster over gambling debts, Taylor banishes him.
7 "Nightfall" Jon Cassar Terry Matalas & Travis Fickett November 7, 2011 (2011-11-07) 1ASW07 7.75[25]
An exploding meteor generates an electromagnetic pulse that destroys all technology in and around Terra Nova, leaving the colony vulnerable. Jim and Zoe, trapped in an underground "eye" that acts as a holographic encyclopedia and simulator, search for a way out. While on their first date, Maddy and Reynolds become stranded outside the fence and, unable to make it back to Terra Nova on foot before nightfall, must evade predators. In the medical center, Skye assists Elisabeth in treating Hunter, who is infected with a deadly parasite. During the procedure, Hunter expresses his true feelings for Skye, even though he knows she has fallen for Josh. Taylor forces Tom Boylan to repair the universal chip maker that can restore all technology. Taking advantage of the crisis, Mira and the Sixers attack Terra Nova by herding an Empirosaurus (a fictional spinosaurid) to the colony in a successful bid to retrieve the mysterious box. In a surprising twist, Boylan saves Taylor's life by shooting a Sixer. Later, Mira delivers the recovered box (containing a type of computer) to Lucas Taylor, Commander Taylor's son, who is able to open it.
8 "Proof" Bryan Spicer David Graziano & Brynn Malone November 14, 2011 (2011-11-14) 1ASW08 7.01[26]
Josh strikes a deal with the Sixers to bring Kara to Terra Nova on the next pilgrimage, but Mira demands that he first steal medical supplies from the infirmary using his mother's identity card. Meanwhile, Maddy suspects that Dr. Ken Horton (Robert Coleby), a renowned scientist who has just returned from a long research mission, may be harboring a secret about himself. After she uncovers evidence that may prove Horton is actually Andrew Fickett, a research assistant who killed the real Horton to assume his identity, Fickett holds Maddy hostage attempts to kill her with a venomous spider, but Jim, tipped off by Zoe, saves Maddy. While in the jungle, Commander Taylor encounters Curran (the banished soldier who murdered Foster) and offers him a deal after saving him from an ancestral Komodo dragon; he can return to the colony if he successfully infiltrates the Sixer's camp and uncovers Mira's spy in Terra Nova. At the house, Maddy revives and admits she was following her instincts and that she never really had any proof, and when Josh confesses to his parents that he stole the meds, Jim confronts Boylan about the Sixers, and learns that Mira is able to communicate with 2149.
9 "Vs." Bryan Spicer Jose Molina November 21, 2011 (2011-11-21) 1ASW09 6.50[27]
Boylan, confused and under duress after being interrogated in jail, mistakes Jim for Taylor and begins rambling about a body buried in the jungle. Jim unearths a skeleton next to the banyan tree Taylor lived in when he first arrived in Terra Nova. Jim investigates this as an old murder case that Commander Taylor may have committed. Meanwhile, Mark Reynolds and other soldiers on a convoy in the jungle are ambushed by Sixers, who the spy apparently tipped off. The colony celebrates the Harvest Festival, in which Zoe stars in a play commemorating Commander Taylor's arrival in Terra Nova. The play reveals an unexpected clue to the murder. Also, Malcolm discovers how the Sixer spy inside Terra Nova communicates with Mira, but it creates an improbable trail leading to the Shannon house. Taylor stages an apparently false arrest after Jim refused Taylor's request to drop the murder investigation. While Jim is in custody, Taylor reveals the dark truth about the 2149 leaders' real intent for Terra Nova: upon Taylor and his son Lucas' arrival to Terra Nova, Lucas invented a "time bridge" to and from the future. After learning that Lucas was working for a corporation that was intending to strip the new world's resources, reaping huge profits, Taylor destroyed Lucas' work. Lucas summoned General Philbrick, Taylor's superior, to Terra Nova to relieve him of command. When Taylor refused to step down in order to protect Terra Nova, he was forced to shoot the general in self-defense, then, assisted by Boylan, buried the body.
10 "Now You See Me" Karen Gaviola Paul Grellong November 28, 2011 (2011-11-28) 1ASW10 7.19[28]
Mira captures Taylor as he inspects Lucas' most recent rock carvings by a river, but Taylor soon subdues her. Their situation changes rapidly, however, when two slashers stalk them. As Taylor and Mira join forces to evade the vicious predators, Mira shares more about herself and her motives to Taylor and also gives him information about Lucas. Meanwhile, a morse code signal is observed being sent to and from the Sixers and someone inside Terra Nova. Jim and Reynolds nearly capture the person who is sending it from the colony, but the mole (revealed to be Skye) barely escapes. Elisabeth starts decoding the DNA from a blood drop Jim found, but Skye, interning at the clinic, destroys the sample. Elisabeth can still determine that it is a female's blood, narrowing the search to 47 suspects. When Skye secretly delivers something to Mira, it is revealed that Skye's mother, Deborah, believed to have died from sincyllic fever, is being kept alive by the Sixers in exchange for Skye's cooperation. Also, Reynolds declares his intentions about Maddy to Jim. The Ankylosaur hatchling that Zoe has been caring for is growing rapidly and will soon be too old to adapt to the wild, forcing Zoe to face a difficult situation.
11 "Within" Karen Gaviola Barbara Marshall December 12, 2011 (2011-12-12) 1ASW11 6.88[29]
Jim and Taylor confront Skye as the Sixer mole, though she claims her only motive was to save her mother, not betray the colony, nor did she ever provide vital information to Mira. Skye warns them that Lucas has successfully completed his calculations to reverse the time portal, and that his 2149 employers will invade and exploit Terra Nova. Taylor, expecting a full-on attack with the 11th pilgrimage's arrival in a few days, begins planning Terra Nova's defense. Skye is reunited with her mother after Taylor orders Curran, the banished soldier who infiltrated Mira's camp, to rescue her from the Sixers. Terra Nova's medical staff is optimistic that her condition will improve once they synthesize the medication the Sixers were using to keep her alive.
12 "Occupation" Jon Cassar Brynn Malone & Barbara Marshall December 19, 2011 (2011-12-19) 1ASW12 7.24[30]

As the 11th pilgrimage begins arriving, a suicide bomber appears and sets off an explosion, killing Kara, who'd arrived through the portal, breaking Josh's heart when he finds out, and seriously injuring Jim Shannon which gives him a temporary hearing loss. Three days later, Jim awakens only to learn that mercenaries called the Phoenix Group have captured Terra Nova. Outnumbered and cut off from Taylor, Lt. Washington surrendered the colony. Harsh martial law is imposed, while Taylor and his forces remain isolated in the jungle. Malcolm, conscripted into service, is forced to repair the time portal, though he is working as slowly as he can. Weaver, Lucas Taylor's superior who arrived from 2149, orders the mercenaries to start stripping the new world's resources using pyrosonic bombs that will decimate half the continent and its wildlife. Jim locates the test bomb with the help of Maddy's boyfriend, Reynolds, and Taylor has Reilly disarm it, which happens successfully, enraging Lucas. Meanwhile, Jim, Washington, and other colonists have been coordinating with Taylor in waging guerilla warfare against the Phoenix Group. Josh, working at Boylan's bar to gather intelligence so he could help, loses control and physically attacks Lucas after Lucas starts sexually harassing Skye. As Josh is restrained and beaten until bleeding from every inch of his body and severely disoriented, with Lucas planning to kill Josh, Jim (upon being tipped off by Skye) arrives on the scene to protect his son, and despite being held back, he saves Josh's life. Jim holds his own against the Phoenix Group's soldiers until the armed Phoenix Group soldiers arrive.

Note: This episode was aired immediately before "Resistance" without intervening credits.
13 "Resistance" Jon Cassar Terry Matalas & Travis Fickett December 19, 2011 (2011-12-19) 1ASW13 7.24[30]

Josh and Jim are sent to the brig, where they reconcile their relationship. Skye persuades Lucas to free Josh, but he tortures Jim for information, despite Josh's warning to Lucas, struggling as he screams out, "No don't touch him" in attempt to defend his father. Elisabeth forces Weaver into securing Jim's release after lying to Weaver that she had injected him with a dangerous virus. The Shannons escape Terra Nova with Lt. Washington's help, but she is captured and executed by Lucas. Meanwhile, Mira was sent to the badlands to retrieve an unknown item. Commander Taylor and Jim Shannon continue disrupting the Phoenix Group's operations, but the damaged terminus has finally been repaired. The first shipment of new world resources is readied for transport to 2149. Jim relays Washington's final message to Taylor about Cù Lao Chàm, an island they once fought on: the bridge to 2149 must be destroyed from inside Hope Plaza to halt further enemy invasion into Terra Nova. Meanwhile, Skye, who deceived Lucas that she joined his side, accompanies him on the Phoenix convoy, then tricks him into an ambush. Lucas escapes and, finding Taylor, is about to kill him; Skye arrives and shoots Lucas, though he apparently survives and disappears. Taylor has the captured shipping container swapped with one concealing Jim, the bomb, and a drugged carnotaurus. Taylor's soldiers, disguised as the mercenaries, deliver it to the terminus. Once inside Hope Plaza, Jim sets the awakened raging carnotaurus loose; it kills Weaver and his associates. Jim detonates the bomb, destroying the facility, barely making it safely back to Terra Nova. Cut off from 2149, the Phoenix Group and the Sixers evacuate Terra Nova and head for the badlands. The mysterious cargo Mira discovered there is revealed to be an 18th-century ship's prow and figurehead, with no clues as to how it arrived in Terra Nova or what else is in the badlands.

Note: This episode was aired immediately after "Occupation" without intervening credits.


Alex Graves signed on to direct the pilot.[31] Brannon Braga and René Echevarria serve as showrunners.[32][33] Australia was chosen after producer Steven Spielberg vetoed Hawaii because he wanted a different filming location from his 1993 film Jurassic Park.[34] The two-hour pilot was filmed over 26 days in late November to December 2010.[3] It was shot in south-east Queensland, Australia, with locations in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and the Gold Coast Hinterland, namely Bonogin.[35][36] The shoot was plagued by torrential rain and additional material had to be shot in 2011, with a total estimated cost of US$14 million to be amortized over the season.[4][34][37] More than 250 sets were constructed.[38] An episode took from eight to nine days to shoot, like most television dramas, but six weeks in post-production, twice the television average at the time.[3] The average episode budget was about $4M, not including Australian tax breaks,[4][37] compared to an average of $3M for broadcast network dramas.[39] Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly stated: "This thing is going to be huge. It's going to take an enormous production commitment."[40]

In an unusual decision, Fox skipped ordering just a pilot, and instead immediately ordered thirteen episodes. This was partly due to financial reasons, as the large Australian sets are expensive to dismantle and rebuild. Despite this decision, the producers denied the production was over-budget, with Peter Rice explaining instead the show is "a very expensive ... very ambitious television show". Kevin Reilly continued: "We're not in completely uncharted territory here. The start-up cost for the series is definitely on the high end. But it's not some bank-breaking series."[41] With only 10% of Cretaceous-era dinosaurs recorded in the fossil record, the producers decided to supplement the series with plausible fictional species; palaeontologist Jack Horner was invited to create realistic creatures for the period and different from those of the Jurassic Park film franchise.[34]

In June 2010, the first cast member was announced – Jason O'Mara as Jim Shannon.[42] In late August, Allison Miller joined the cast; playing the role of Skye Tate.[15] In September 2010, Deadline Hollywood reported that Stephen Lang, who played a similar character in the 2009 film Avatar, signed-on to play a leading role of Commander Taylor.[43]

An executive producer, David Fury, left the series as a result of creative differences.[44] In September, Shelley Conn landed the female lead role.[45] In October, Brian Tyler was chosen as the composer,[46] Mido Hamada was cast as a security head,[47] while Landon Liboiron, Naomi Scott, and Alana Mansour were cast as the three children.[48] In November, Christine Adams was cast as Mira.[49] In May 2011, Rod Hallett joined the cast.[16]

The cast and crew returned to Queensland, Australia on May 20, 2011 to continue production on the first season. Filming commenced on May 25, 2011.[50] With a long production process on the series,[38] it was announced in July 2011 that the first season would consist of thirteen episodes to finish airing in December 2011.[51]

Many of the weapons used in the show were reworked and repainted Nerf blasters.[52]

Cancellation and motion comic[edit]

Shortly after the airing of the season one finale in December 2011, Fox Broadcasting stated that no decision would be made until 2012 regarding the continuation of the series.[53] Fox announced the cancellation of Terra Nova on March 6, 2012. 20th Century Fox Television stated that it would try to sell the show to other networks.[54]

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment set up a "video mashup" website where purchasers of the DVD can create a motion comic continuing the series.[55][56] As of December 2013, the site was no longer active and redirects to Fox Movies.[57]


Terra Nova was expected to premiere in the U.S. in May 2011 with a two-hour preview, but due to the time involved for visual effects, its pilot was moved to autumn (late September) 2011 to air with the rest of season one.[58] In May 2011, Fox announced the series would air on Monday nights,[10] and released a full trailer.[59] Terra Nova premiered at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International on July 23, 2011.[60] The Fox premiere drew 9.22 million viewers and 3.1 in the 18–49 demo in live plus same day results, rising to 4.1 in Live+3, the best result by a new drama.[61][62] Terra Nova's high DVR gains were attributed to competition from Monday Night Football which, being a sports event, is less conducive to delayed viewing.[62] In its second week on Fox, the show retained 100% of its demo rating (3.1), the best retention by a new series.[63] Fox aired the entire first season consecutively on Monday nights, until its two-hour finale on December 19, 2011.

In Canada, Citytv simulcast every first season episode; the Canadian premiere drew 1.4 million viewers, the largest audience for a drama in Citytv's history.[63] In 2015, reruns began airing on Telelatino.[64]

In Australia, where the series was filmed, Network Ten began airing the series within days of its U.S. release.[65] In the UK and Ireland, digital channel Sky 1 broadcast the show from October 3, 2011.[66]


Critical reception[edit]

Early reviews indicated much promise in the series. In June 2011, Terra Nova was one of eight honorees in the Most Exciting New Series category at the Critics' Choice Television Awards, voted by journalists who had seen the pilots.[67] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette compared it to Outcasts.[68] The Los Angeles Times wrote: "Easily the most exciting show of the fall season, Fox's Terra Nova has such obvious, instant and demographically diverse appeal."[69] The New York Post called it "Good family fun",[70] while USA Today wrote, "What matters are the dinosaurs, who – particularly in the first hour – are as convincing and startling as TV has ever offered, roaming a gorgeous, CGI-enhanced terrain."[71] The Wall Street Journal wrote: "Terra Nova leaves ye olde cheap-set series in the dust with production values that make each episode look cinematic."[72] The Washington Post wrote, "Literally the biggest thing on TV this fall, Terra Nova has it all: time travel, misguided utopianism, 'Swiss Family Robinson'-style cohesion and lots of hungry dinosaurs. It's all pretty dazzling."[73]

Mid-season reviews were highly critical. The show was called "Stargate Universe by Mark A. Perigard of the Boston Herald.[74] Sam Wollaston of The Guardian stated that there was only one interesting character and that "A lot of the fault lies with what they have to say to each other. The script is as corny and cheesy as a family-sized portion of cheesy corn nachos."[75] New York magazine reviewer Chadwick Matlin vowed never to watch the show again, saying "Sure, the premise had promise, but even masochists like us can only take so much."[76] But by the finale in December things had turned around again where critics were mostly pleased and enthusiastic.[77][78][79] Entertainment Weekly called the season finale "exciting".[77] The series' first season received an aggregated score of 64% across 28 reviews from Metacritic.[80]

U.S. ratings[edit]

The first season averaged 7.52 million American viewers and a 2.5 rating in the 18–49 demographic.[81] The show was ranked the #2 new drama among adults 18–49, the #1 new show among men 18–49, 18–34, and 25–54 and was one of the top 20 regular programs among teens, as of January 1, 2012.[82]

Season Episodes Timeslot (ET/PT) Premiered Ended TV season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere viewers
(in millions)
Date Finale viewers
(in millions)
1 13 Monday 8:00 PM September 26, 2011 9.22[83] December 19, 2011 7.24[30] 2011–12 43 10.08[84]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 2011, the series was honored, along with seven others, with the Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series.[85] Also, it won "Best Visual Effects in a Television Series" by the Visual Effects Society in 2011.

Series DVD release[edit]

The series was released on a 4-disc DVD set on September 11, 2012. The set contains deleted scenes; bloopers; and featurettes including "Director's Diaries – Making the Pilot", an extended "Occupation/Resistance" episode with audio commentary from Stephen Lang, Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria, "Mysteries Explored", and "Cretaceous Life: The Dinosaurs of Terra Nova".[86]


The series's original music was composed by Brian Tyler. La-La Land Records released a soundtrack album on October 9, 2012.[87]


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External links[edit]