Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, and FOX's Terra Nova. What do they all have in common? Sure, they are all projects that Steven Spielberg is attached to, but more importantly to me, they are all epic in scale and in idea.
When you mentioned Terra Nova to anyone prior to the series premiere, the immediate response was "Oh that Dinosaur show?" Or "Jurassic Park for television?" While Terra Nova is not Jurassic Park, it shares that one shiny detail: dinosaurs.
In no way does the inclusion of dinosaurs make a series great - or even watchable for that matter - but it does have a way of getting the audience's attention. It got mine from the jump off, and as "Genesis: Part 1" began, I was only sucked in further and further as the episode went along.
Anything apocalyptic in nature is sure to have me on the edge of my seat. So when the series kicked off, and the world as we knew it was on the verge of destruction, my eyes opened wider. The futuristic elements are great, with all of the technological advances, but add that to the ridiculously historic atmosphere that the show turns to after the first half hour or so, and it is a recipe for success.
All great television series are filled with great characters at their roots. In the premiere, we met the Shannons, who didn't put forth a Raylan Givensian (Justified) first impression, but certainly proved to me that this show isn't going to simply be a dinosaur action flick on the small screen.
I never watched Life On Mars, and couldn't tell Jason O'Mara from Jason Jones, so I had my doubts about him as the episode began. After Jim Shannon and family made it to Terra Nova, and the father began to interact with his baby Zoe for the first time since going away to prison two years earlier, all doubts were gone.
The man has charm, and little Zoe announcing that she remembered his name was "Daddy!" only made me fall in love with this family even more. Elizabeth was relatable and the older daughter, although I can't remember her name, was funny in how much she was dorking out over all of the time travel and science aspects of their new life in Terra Nova.
But it was Josh that really made me the most riled up. Every show benefits from having someone you can't stand. Someone you want to see screw up. Someone you can root against. Josh is already that for me, and I love it. From the hatred he has shown towards his father, to the ridiculous idea to sneak "OTG" on his first day in the Cretaceous period, Josh had me shaking my head on a number of occasions.
It was not simply a character study on the Shannons though. The opener gave us adventure: Josh and his friends exploring "OTG." It gave us romance: both in Josh and Skye, and the older daughter with her new man-friend. It gave us a whole lot of action: You do not want to mess with the Slashers! And it definitely gave us intrigue: What are the equations on the rocks all about? What's Taylor's son doing with them? And how will they play a role in the near future?
I'm not here telling you it was a perfect premiere. I mean, as fantastic as some of the special effects were, the green screen during Jim and Taylor's scene on top of the rocks was awful. It was Ringer-esque! Also there were a few times when I just said "really?" The fact that they were even attempting to keep it a surprise to the audience that it was Zoe in the giant backpack was hurtful, and the fact that Jim so quickly got in Taylor's circle of trust even though he was a fugitive, were two of my biggest problems.
But the positives outnumbered the negatives by a country mile, and I am excited to see where this tale goes from here. The ending of the second hour, with the gigantic moon in the distance, reminded me once again at what an epic story this was. Will the rest of the series continue to live up to that scale? We'll have to tune in again to find out.
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.