Deadline is reporting that Jason O’Mara – the star of the U.S. remake of Life on Mars – is in talks to play the lead in the new Steven Spielberg sci-fi/dinosaurs project, Terra Nova.

Thanks to Collider, we can now provide a lengthy synopsis for Terra Nova, a TV show which will see Spielberg sharing producing duties with Brannon Braga (Star Trek, FlashForward), with Alex Graves (the Fringe pilot) in the director’s chair for the first episode.

You can read that detailed plot summary below:

In the year 2149 the world is dying.  The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and overpolluted.  With the majority of plant and animal life extinct, devotion to science has brought mankind to the brink of destruction, but has also provided its only hope for salvation.  Knowing there is no way to reverse the damage to the planet, a coalition of scientists has managed to open up a fracture in the space-time continuum, creating a portal to prehistoric Earth.  This doorway leads to an amazing world, one that allows for a last-ditch effort to save the human race… possibly changing the future by correcting the mistakes of the past.

The series centers on the Shannon family as they join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to TERRA NOVA, the first colony of humans in this second chance for civilization.  JIM SHANNON a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new land of limitless beauty, mystery and terror.  Jim’s wife, ELISABETH SHANNON, is a trauma surgeon chosen through a global lottery as a new addition to Terra Nova’s medical team.  JOSH SHANNON is their son, mourning the girl he left behind, as he’s torn between two role models – his father and the charismatic COMMANDER FRANK TAYLOR, the leader of the settlement, and the heroic first pioneer through the time portal.  MADDY SHANNON, Jim and Elizabeth’s teen daughter, is as independent and adventurous as her parents, but her distrust of authority soon leads her on a dangerous path.

In addition to blue skies, rolling rivers, and lush vegetation, TERRA NOVA offers new opportunities and fresh beginnings to its recent arrivals, but the Shannons have brought with them a familial secret that may threaten their citizen ship in this utopia.  Additionally these adventurers soon discover that this healthy, vibrant world is not as idyllic as it initially appears.  The areas surrounding Terra Nova are filled with dangerous dinosaurs, and other prehistoric threats, as well as external forces that may be intent on destroying this new world before it begins.

But perhaps even more threatening than what lies outside the protective walls is the Shannons’ realization that something sinister may be happening inside TERRA NOVA as not everyone on this mission has the same intentions of how to best save mankind.

Based off this plot description, Terra Nova sounds like a mixture of Avatar, H.G. Well’s The Time Traveler, Jurassic Park, and even a bit of Lost in Space (for better or worse).  With Spielberg producing, I imagine the production values and visual effects will be pretty impressive for a TV show on Fox – not to mention that this show sounds like a potentially perfect fit to fill the place left by Lost.

Should he sign on, O’Mara will play Jim Shannon, the father “with a checkered past.” O’Mara’s performance as Detective Sam Tyler on the U.S. version of Life on Mars was generally given high marks (despite a terrible finale), which bodes well for his potential success on Terra Nova.  If nothing else, he’s already proven that he can play a man who finds himself trapped in a foreign time and place.

O'Mara in Life on Mars

What do you think?  Does Terra Nova sound like it has the potential to be a cool sci-fi series?  Does O’Mara sound like a good fit for the material?  Sound off in the comments section below.

Fox will premiere Terra Nova in the spring of 2011.

Source: Collider, Deadline