A Land Before Time: Can Terra Nova's Travelers Survive Dinosaurs, Change the Future?
It's 2149 and Earth has been destroyed by overpopulation. Scientists discover a crack in the space-time continuum, which leads to a pre-historic era. Presented with a new, lush landscape, a military-lead colony heads to the past in hopes of giving humanity a fresh start.
Also, there are dinosaurs!
That's the premise of Terra Nova, an ambitious new series from executive producer Steven Spielberg. Filmed in Australia, the series' intricate storyline and verdant setting may scream Lost, but producers insist that's the furthest thing from their mind.
"This has nothing to do with Lost for one major reason: It's so made for a massively broad audience," executive producer Alex Graves said at Tuesday at the Television Critics Association winter previews. "Terra Nova, more than anything I've ever done in my life, is for everybody."
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Giant, man-eating reptiles aside, producers say they're mostly interested in the show's central question: If humans were given a second chance to start over, would they make the same mistakes?
"They're hoping to send people back to re-colonize Earth and give humanity a second chance," executive producer Brannon Braga says. "What effect that has on the future, they're hoping, is positive."
Whether or not going back in time will change the future remains to be seen. The characters' actions could have larger ramifications on the future (a la Back to the Future). Or are they on an entirely alternate and identical Earth? Either could be true, says executive producer René Echevarria. "Does the fact that  is still sending people back mean that this colony is doomed to not succeed? [Or] is it going to last 85 million years and interfere with human history?"
Fox pushes Terra Nova back to fall 2011
"It's about people starting over again in the same context that people are doing that today, it just happens to be in a more exotic locale," Graves says. "It's very much grounded in the accurate record that one imagines might've been possible."
Adds Braga: "It is about a second chance for Earth, but Earth can only be saved if people can restore themselves and not bring with them the baggage they left behind."
Fox will air a two-night, two-hour sneak preview of Terra Nova on Monday, May 23 and Tuesday, May 24.