Knee-jerk review: Fox's "Terra Nova"

1. Cracker-jack premise: ecologically-destroyed future Earth sends colonists back through time to the dinosaur era to start over. Love it.
2. It's a Hollywood rule that Stephen Lang cannot play a good guy, so we were immediately suspicious of his true intentions when he showed up. And sure enough, by the end of the episode he looks like he's not to be trusted.
3. Call us chicken, but it's never a good idea to go "OTG." Outside the gates. Not in the Cretaceous Period, anyway.
4. Spielberg's fingerprints are all over this, what with the heavy-handed, overly sentimental Family (with a capital F) themes.
5. Love this world.
6. But as of now, we're not particularly endeared to the married couple leads. In the future, it's illegal to have a third child. This seems perfectly reasonable. The planet looks like Coruscant - one big giant polluted city - and everyone wears breathing masks. So our couple decides to have a third kid anyway and dad goes to prison. And we're supposed to feel sorry for them why exactly? Worse, when asked why they had the third kid, he just shrugs "Seemed like a good idea at the time." What an ass.
7. No way do we buy the whole escape-from-prison, break-into-the-colonist-center sequence. A clumsy contrivance to add some tension and conflict in the first half hour (and to introduce that favorite trope of Spielberg's, the Absent Father, via the prison sentence). Which is stupid, because there's plenty of organic, natural tension at Terra Nova.
8. That wide shot of Terra Nova is a terrible painting. Look, kids, where we'll soon live: Matte Painting World!
9. We do like those rifles with the built-in flashlights.
10. Do shows now have to have an overarching, "Lost"-style backstory mystery? Is it written into the contracts?

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