Terra Nova: Short Stories from Prehistory

Seven episodes into Terra Nova, it's pretty clear that not a normal day goes by in the prehistoric camp. Last night had it all: Horny teens engaging in body painting, the internet, 30-foot worms tunneling through some guy's guts, fire arrows (always cool), and an a Capella jam about spiders. "Nightfall" was almost like a greatest hits of the series so far, cramming its trademarks (both good and bad) into one single episode via overlapping stories featuring your favorite characters. It was like Pulp Fiction or that The Simpsons episode that parodied Pulp Fiction, but not like that Community episode that parodied Pulp Fiction.

"Nightfall" wasted no time making life difficult for the citizens of Terra Nova when a space rock hurtled across the sky and broke up into a jazillion pieces. But it wasn't the impact that people had to worry about, it was the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that it emitted, even though I didn't see anyone get a 15-kill killstreak or 18-point Strike Chain. (That's just a little Call of Duty humor for you.) The EMP knocked out all the electronics in Terra Nova, and as you can imagine, it pretty much screwed everyone over because of course there was no properly shielded backup power source for the colony.

We spent the rest of the episode bouncing back and forth between various members of the Shannon clan in different states of duress. It would do me no good to recap this chronologically since it wouldn't properly relay just how dire everyone's straits were, so let's tackle each character's story individually in... Tales from Terra Nova!



Elisabeth Shannon in tERra nova

Also starring: Skye, Hunter

Dr. Elisabeth is bogged down in the Infirmary because Terra Nova's emergency room is ALWAYS FULL, and now she has to be a 21st century doctor with no laser-scalpels, space clamps, or iGauze to help her out. Not only does she have to deal with those injured by the "sonic wave" caused by the meteor, but she's already got a room full of Terra Nova's normal clumsy citizens. I don't know what's going on with these people, but it seems like there's an unusually high proportion of people in full body-casts to healthy people on this show. Maybe everyone should walk around in bear armor or, you know, just watch where they're going?

Elisabeth's most critical patient isn't a victim of the meteor at all. It's Skye's friend Hunter, who has a 30-foot worm swimming around in his intestines, which may or may not be a result of drinking. I guess Terra Novans have found a way to top the worm-in-the-tequila tradition popularized at higher institutions of partying like San Diego State University! Because she's short on doctors, Liz asks Skye to help reel in the worm, which—and I'm totally serious in saying this this—is a pretty rad way to extract a parasite from someone's poop chute. She just wraps it around a stick and starts winding. A potential Love Square begins to develop when Hunter tells Skye he's crushing on her, but he knows that she's sproinging on Josh, who is wacka-wacka over his old girlfriend, Kara. Meanwhile, no one loves the worm. Spurned by a lack of affection, the worm snaps in half and burrows back into Hunter. At that point, Elisabeth's professional doctor opinion is that they must get the replacement microchip from the replacement microchip maker to save Hunter's life. They get the chip, but I think the parasite is already dead so it doesn't matter anyway? It's not that clear, but I don't expect clarity from this show anymore. In the end, Elisabeth saves the day because she confirms that the parasite is dead.



Maddy and Mark the Soldier in Teenagers in Love and Covered in Mud

Maddy kicks off the episode by blatantly lying to her parents! How rude! She has plans to go on a romantic picnic with her soldier suitor Mark, the most handsome soldier in all of Terra Nova. They're about to make out in a sea of plants when the meteor hits. The young lovers are stranded in paradise because the circuits inside Mark's ride are fried and bona fide died, so the try to turn the tide by walking back with matching strides, Mark and his soon-to-be bride who almost cried.

Because this isn't Cinemax, the two are forced to show their love by painting one another's supple young bodies with stinky dino-repellent. They could have put it on themselves, of course, but kids in love will find any excuse to paw at each other. (Side note: How old is Mark? Isn't Maddy like 16? It's reasonable to assume that he has to be at least 18, since he's a soldier and all, and is more likely in his early-20s. What are the statutory rape laws in Terra Nova?)

Mark and Maddy (celebrity couple name Maddark) end up kissing in a tree under the moonlight with mud all over their faces, and I'm not going to lie: These two characters actually have a bit of chemistry! I say go for it, Mark—you have my blessing, and you've won me over with your pecs. Maddy and Mark stay alive and walk back to camp the next day and never have to tell the truth about their secret liaison because not one single person ever decided to check up on Maddy. That's a tight family!



Jim and Zoe Shannon in Psychosomatic Arachnophobia

Jim decides to take Zoe into the bowels of Terra Nova to show her the colony's internet. If the gizmo they have down there is the future of online computing, count me in. It's like a giant Beryllium sphere from Galaxy Quest that's part Wikipedia, part Google Maps, part YouTube, and part roller coaster simulator. Just as Zoe is about to experience her first case of simulated motion sickness, the power goes out and they're stuck in the hole.

Jim finds the most useless access hatch in the world because it's too small to fit anyone but small children, jockeys, and gnomes. What's the point of having an access hatch to and from what is arguably the most important part of the colony, if only tiny people can use it? I don't know. What's the point of this show, Tim? Self-touché. Anyway, Zoe to the rescue! She can squeeze through the hatch to reach the manual override that is outside of the chamber, strategically placed in case someone wants to lock bad guys inside a room with the colony's most important piece of technology. *Smashes head into wall* Jim has to convince Zoe to be brave and crawl through the tunnel to save their lives because we've never seen this in a movie before ever. There's only one problem: SPIDERS!

I'm not talking about venomous spiders, or spiders that can wrap you up in a web and slowly suck out your insides. I'm talking about the most dangerous spiders of all: imaginary ones. Zoe is scared of some non-existent spiders, but we'll give her a pass because she's five years old. Jim rolls his eyes because he's sick of this father sh*t and sings the spider song, a diddy he makes up on the spot to calm Zoe's nerves. She gets out, and opens the door so Jim can do grown-up stuff. The end.

Bonus: Here is Jim Shannon's "Spider Song." Will someone please remix this jam with auto-tune? Download it by right-clicking and "save link as"-ing this link, remix it, and email it to mailbag@tv.com!



Commander Taylor in Dem Rascals Stole Me Box!

With special guest appearance from Jim Shannon
Taylor's got problems. With the power out, Terra Nova is a sitting duck for The Sixers, man-eating dinosaurs, prehistoric pigeons, and memory-erasing viruses. Everyone can die, and he needs replacement microchips FAST. Unfortunately, Terra Nova spent most of its budget on his awesome dinosaur-skull desk and Boylan's bar and didn't have any cash left over for an IT department or someone who could fix the electronics that the colony lives and dies by. Oops!

But there is one man who can whip up a replacement microchip, and it's the same guy who can whip up a Turoco Root Margarita: Boylan the bartender! I love how Taylor goes to the bar to rough up Boylan and there are people there just having a good time, not at all concerned about the meteor that just exploded and sent half of Terra Nova to the ER or the dinosaurs that can just waltz into camp. Gotta love alcoholics! Anyway, Taylor twists Boylan's arm quite literally and figuratively and Boylan starts working on replacement chips instead of selfishly asking for something like he was originally doing. I don't use this word that often, but Boylan is a total douche.

Meanwhile, the Sixers are dragging a huge dinosaur towards Terra Nova to use as a distraction so they can grab that box Mira wants so badly. Taylor has the foresight (finally, someone has foresight in this show) to dig a flammable moat around Terra Nova and launch a fire arrow into it like that guy from the Olympics when the dinosaur approaches. It should be pointed out that this was a pretty cool dinosaur. It's nice to see the monster from Cloverfield get more work. I don't want to point out holes in Mira's plan, but what if Taylor didn't stop the dinosaur? What if the dinosaur ran in and starting eating people, including the Sixers that sneak in to grab the box? What if the dinosaur eats the box? This is why I should be leader of the Sixers. I would have just had whoever the mole is grab the box and bring it to me. But then again, I'm not on a TV show.

Taylor and Jim realize the giant dinosaur is just a diversion, although we should be honest here and call it a legitimate threat on its own. Diversion implies something that is used just to distract, like a guy waving his arms and saying "over here! over here!," and in my book a gigantic dinosaur that will eat everyone is a greater threat than someone stealing a box I can't even open in the first place. But I digress. Taylor runs into the lab just in time to see Sixers run away from the box, there's a long fight scene that was choreographed by an 80-year old man in a Rascal scooter, and Taylor feeds a bunch of Sixers some Knuckle Sandwiches and a side of BBQ-flavored Potato Kicks. But one bad guy gets away with the box and hands it over to Mira, who hands it over to a mystery man who just pops out of the jungle. It's Taylor's son, Lucas! Which I guess makes Taylor Darth Vader? So now we finally meet the REAL villain in the series, who needed the box for his "work." But we STILL don't know what the box does. So really, we don't have any reason to care that he has it even though the music says we should. End scene!



Josh Shannon in Where My Shoes At?

Early in the episode, Josh can't find his shoes! Maddy finds them for him and gives them to him. (This was my favorite of all the stories.)


Truthfully, "Nightfall" was actually a pretty decent episode of Terra Nova once I got past some of the strange logic. There's no doubt that the show has been taking steps toward becoming a legitimate program, but it still trips and fall on its face way too often.


Which of the Tales From Terra Nova did you like most?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (57)
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Every story element is so contrived. 90% of the characters dialog, motivations and actions make no sense at all.. in any setting.. its impossible to relate to to without suspending disbelief (and common sense) but offers nothing in its place.. this shoddy mess needs an ounce of direction with a side order of integrity.
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my neighbor's mother-in-law makes $68 hourly on the internet. She has been laid off for 8 months but last month her income was $7224 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go to this site NuttyRich.com
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Thanks so much for saving me from having to watch the episode.
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Well, I'm not gonna start pointing out inconsistencies and non-senses of this ep because that would be too much time spent for this show and you already did it with your usual talent, Tim.



I just can't understand why they insist to keep the teenagers storylines out of the main arc. They seemed to have Josh involved with the sixers last week and it was a good thing. But here, Maddy and ToyBoy have their (cheesy) storyline on their own. That's a shame. Just like someone said it below it would have been nice to have them spot the sixers or something.



The last five minutes definitely saved this ep.

Oh, that and the fact that now, I know I have to dig a security hatch and tunnel under my sofa because that the first place normal people check when they are stuck in a room.

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This episode was overly ridiculous but still entertaining! This show is becoming more and more like The Event... excessively absurd with its characters and storytelling but still remaining entertaining. And your review of the episode definitely reminded me of the old Event reviews! :)
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Tim, your reviews are brilliant .. i dont watch terra nova anymore, but I always make a point of reading these reviews to cheer up my day. Thanks!
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The only reason why I still watch this show is so I understand these reviews better and subsequently LOL harder.
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Haha, yeah, I'm with you on that
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Terra Nova is the worst. The one thing this show is great at is being the seasons biggest disappointment.
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Mr.Surrete your reviews are never "not funny". The storylines in this episode could have gone way better. But I did see what the powers that be were trying to do.
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Staff
Thank you phonzze!
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Great article! Decent enough episode.
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What a piece of smelly *#@*
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i loved your review. everything that is wrong with this show, is here pointed out in a way that made LOL. thanks for that. once again, it was a waste of a good hour.
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Josh's best episode yet!!
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Thank you Mr Spielberg, I now know why E.T. went home... Thats another hour of my life i'm never getting back.
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Still like the show and I think the pacing was quite good. However I have no idea why the mole would shoot the Sixxer when he has a chance to get rid of Taylor. To make Taylor trust him?



The worst part of this show is that it's just a reimagination of Earth 2. Desert becomes jungle, Tim Curry becomes a creepy barkeeper, Grendlers become Sixxers, Terra Nova instead of New Pacifica, Terrians aka dinosaurs.
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No way Earth 2 was much BETTER! LOL! At least we cared about some of the characters... With Terra Nova I root for the dinosaurs LMAO!
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I thought it was funny how the blast from the meteors destroyed houses and fruit stands in Terra Nova and we see people flying, but Maddy and Mark hide beside a field of flowers and are fine.
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Eh ... you're complaining about the only thing in this episode that was actually realistic. The closer you are to the ground during a shockwave, the less harm it does.
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Am still there for Dinosaurs..i wish they had more scenes!!... while am at it, i would like to request less of Mrs Shannon and young Mr.Shannon.
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Even though the Dinosaurs have way fewer scenes I think they are more developed as characters than most of the Shanon family XD
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Staff
Ha ha!
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It's such a stupid show but I don't seem to be able to stop watching it as it has a perverse grip on me. It's like the incredibly bad mini series Meteor, which was sooooo bad I couldn't turn it off. This is exactly the same thing.
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For me to i love how bad this show is, so i just keep watching it :D
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Staff
I'm the same way... I did the same with the Ev3NT which I ended up looking forward to each week!
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I seem to keep watching it, so I can bash it at your comment section. I actually think this show doesn't have any writers. It seems like that Josh kid writes it while taking a dump.
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Bwahaha! Pathetic as it is, that's basically the reason why I keep watching. The best part about it is making fun of how horrible it is!

Your second sentence sounds pretty accurate!
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That's an odd reason to watch a show. :P
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I'm guilty of the same thing!
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This could've been a good episode IF there was no Josh, no parasite, Maddy and Mark were able to foil or spy on the 6ers on the way home. If they only got a glimpse of what was in the stupid box (tg, not a toy airplane), Maddy may have had an inkling of what the information was and could have helped propell the story forward. Maybe Mark could have recognized Lucas. It could have gotten things done back at TN.. But this 6ers storyline is being played too close to the chest, even though it's the most interesting aspect of the show.
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I don't understand why its so difficult to get a couple of decent science fiction writers, the premise has potential that is just being wasted. I don't know if the show is what the creators intended or the way its turning out it kinda reminds me of starting out a paper with a really great thesis and then realizing you don't have enough written material to meet the 15 page requirement.
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That was the worst spider go away song ever. I know he was just making it up on the spot but that was just horrible. We get to find out whats in the box, sort of.
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I still don't get why so many people hate this show. I think it is a great show with a great direction. It just seems that in every comments section there are nothing except haters of every show, I guess no one should ever watch any TV ever according to this websites comments section. Oh well I guess you give people somewhere to voice their opinions and 95% of the opinions are bad for every show. Just remember this sites comment sections have had nothing good to ever say about shows like Fringe and Dexter unless people are talking about how the show used to be, but in the beginning people were asking for the shows cancellation. Oh well all I can do is just enjoy the show and laugh when comments change during the 2nd season.
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Terra Nova is terrible, and gets so much hate deservedly because of its ruined potential.



Fringe you are 100% wrong about, that show has been excellent since day one.





Dexter's first two seasons were A+ tv, but every season since has been crap.
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I think it's because people's expectations are pretty high after seeing quality shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Homeland, American Horror Story to name a few. Terra Nova, a show with a higher budget than many of the above mentioned shows should have higher quality than what they are currently coming up with.
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I guess it's because it's so formulaic. This is the never-made second season of Earth2 after the colonists get to New Pacifica, only with dinosaurs. We've seen this show or anticipated it 20 years ago.
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what you say about Fringe is 100% inaccurate. Look at the last review of Fringe; you'll notice that a majority of people are wholly satisfied--or at least pretty satisfied--with how things are going now.



This show, however, has so many issues that if you can't see them, there's no point in arguing with you.
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Show is getting a lot better. I have always liked it but can admit it's had some bumps in the road. It seems to be smoothing out the bumps (save Josh, who needs to be savagely beaten or something). After the past 2 eps the show has been trending upward, which is a good sign that makes me hopeful for the potential of season 2. Better to start slow and trend upward than to start strong and never live up to it.
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I really like this show, I dont understand why all the hate towards it.
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I think the fact that human logic apparently doesn't exist in the pre-historic age is the primary problem.
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its a kids show thats why and they mislead us with all the trailers making took like something more violent and interesting
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Should just be renamed, The Shannons



Sadly, they are losing me, and I live abroad and download everything, so its not a conflict question!
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This show so wanted to be as good as "Primeval" but its so awful. I think I'm just sticking to these awesome reviews.. This show needs to find its Hannah Spearitt because no one in this cast is worth tuning in to watch.
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I just find it funny that the key to surviving a "sonic wave" from an asteroid is to duck. And even if that made any kind of scientific sense, why does Taylor tell everyone to get down, while he just stares at the oncoming wave? Shouldn't he duck too?



This show is completely terrible. The only thing that makes it good, is the Sixers/Lucas storyline which seems they don't really want to develop. The only reason I keep watching it is because it is because I just want to see what crap they make up next. it is purely entertaining in the fact that all I want to see is how much more stupidity the writers can cram into this show.
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Tim, I'm truly impressed by your commitment to review this show to its dying, Disney deluged death. My favorite stroyline was Jim and Zoe's epic adventure of finding a way out of a room (riveting stuff). A close second is Josh Shannon in Where My Shoes At? It's funny you called him a teen pop star, because he really is the Justin Bieber of television (when Justin himself is not getting shot to death on CSI).
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Ha ha thanks!!! He is totally Bieber-ish...
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And this is why I'll always prefer your reviews.
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Classic review for a show that will never be.



Keep it up. The reviews normally top the shows.
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whats the point of having electronic locks on doors if kids can open them by simply pulling a leaver?
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I totally agree with the review. Even in the awesome meteor scene they dropped the ball by showing the fruitbaskets on the market UNTOUCHED by the blastwave. BTW first time good effects for a TV series.
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hilarious, this show is awful
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I thought it was a pretty good episode once it got past the Maddy and Mark kissing in a tree part. Can't figure out how the sixers figured out how to domesticate a dino, bet that took some work. The scenes with Jim and Zoe were pretty good. Just wish they would get to more of the Lucas story and what happen with him a Taylor and what he is working on as well.
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Tim Surette I love you. Unlike Terra Nova. I swear I lost count how many times my eyes rolled in this episode.
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I really, really, really like you.
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I did enjoy it and it was one of the best eps so far. Love your article - made me laugh.
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Mad-Dark?! Sounds a lot like Mandark from Dexter's Laboratory.
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