One of the most intriguing and potentially great shows on the horizon is Fox’s Terra Nova, which comes to us courtesy of executive producer Steven Spielberg and showrunner Brannon Braga (24, Flashforward).

Terra Nova follows a group of humans – specifically the Shannon family – as they travel back in time millions of years to prehistoric Earth in order to save the human race from ultimately becoming extinct. It’s an interesting plot, particularly for a TV show where you have episode-after-episode to explore themes – not least of which are the obvious environmental concerns.

The first photos from Terra Nova were released just last week, showing things that don’t tell us much out of context (such as lead Jason O’Mara wearing some sort of special gas mask – see above). We’re still waiting to see a trailer for the show but until then we have a description of said trailer to lend insight as to what the show will be like.

The trailer description comes courtesy of EW, which got a look at it during the press tour. Read the trailer description below:

“The trailer introduced a dystopian future, where the Shannon family (Jason O’Mara is the dad) wear breathing masks, lining up for “the final shuttle to Terra Nova” — an Earth colony set 85 million years in the past. Once they stroll through a bright light tunnel, they arrive in the past at a fenced-in compound that’s surrounded by dense Pandora-like tropical forest and at least one towering waterfall. The Shannon family is greeted by the rugged Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang, the bad guy in Avatar, and yes, you are correctly sensing a trend here).

At first, everything’s all prehistoric Blackberry-free bliss. The Shannon family hangs out in their new eco-friendly homestead breathing clean air with solar panels on the roof. “We’re starting over as a family,” etc.

Then… attack!

Characters get violently yanked from view. Guns are drawn. Colonists speed off in The Lost World-style armored tumbler trucks. Danger! Excitement! And finally, here comes the show’s tagline: “There is no paradise without sacrifice.” Boom, take that, Shannon family.”

The comparison to James Cameron’s Avatar is irrefutable – the casting of Stephen Lang as a Commander is evidence enough – but also the surroundings of the prehistoric colony are just too similar to ignore (just look at the promotional title shot below). Are those involved specifically aiming for an Avatar-vibe, perhaps to capitalize on the success of Cameron’s epic? You couldn’t exactly blame them for trying…

Terra Nova = Avatar on TV?

Following the screening of the trailer, the producers expanded on the overall concept of the show. The idea is that the human population is in big trouble and a set of people have been sent back 85 million years “start humanity over” in order to save us all. The time period they are sent back to is 20 million (approx.) years prior to the supposed asteroid that hit earth and destroyed most life on it (including the dinosaurs).

Of course, with any time travel-related show there’s going to be questions of paradoxes and indeed one critic asked one of those tricky questions to the Terra Nova producers, specifically why no one from the future was worried that the actions of those in the past could stop the future people from existing. Braga replied that, “They’re hoping to restart humanity through this time fracture they’ve discovered,” and that whatever effect the traveling back in time has is a positive one (they’re clearly not believers in the butterfly effect!).

What happens if you stand on a DINOSAUR in the past?...

Finally, with regards to the asteroid which will hit 20 millions year ahead of where the colony is, Braga said that in the show they are “acutely aware” of that fact but have 20 million years to perfect the plan that they have in mind. Braga jokingly concluded that the show will NOT last for 20 million years 😛 .

Unfortunately the trailer that’s described above isn’t available online yet, but check back at Screen Rant for it soon. For now, leave your thoughts on the Avatar comparisons in the comments below.

Terra Nova just recently wrapped shooting its two-hour pilot (with special effects far from finished) and is currently scheduled to premiere in Fall, 2011.

Source: EW