The premise is that 150 years in the future, the world is ending because of environmental collapse caused by human overpopulation. Everyone has to breathe with oxygen masks on. And it's a law that no family can have more than two kids. But the Shannons have three kids, which makes them criminals. They have to hide their youngest from the government officials. When they are caught, the father--Jim Shannon (Jason O'Mara of LIFE ON MARS) is sent to prison for a few years. Meanwhile, his Doctor wife, Elisabeth, had the opportunity to start over on Terra Nova. A time-travel rift was discovered years before, which goes to 85 million years in the past. It's a one-way trip. So they have to figure out how to break Jim from jail so he can join his family there.
Least to say he does escape and makes it to the Tenth Pilgrimage, to this new world.
It's quite a culture shock, as there is fresh air and plenty of vegetation. In fact, some people pass out when they first arrive from too much oxygen. Although Jim had been a police officer, he's assigned for maintenance-- but when there's a crime, he intervenes, which gets the notice of the city's leader, Commander Nathanial Taylor (Stephen Lang of AVATAR). He's made a member of the police. While there's not a lot of crime, there is human friction, from a break-off colony called "The Sixers", who live more like barbarians and have their own agenda. They are called "Sixers" because they came on the Sixth Pilgrimage. We also see some colorful looking brachiosaurs as well as a meat-eating, horned carnosaur. The coolest, though, are these man-sized creatures that use their pointed tales like knives. Thank God is wasn't yet more Raptors.
In the second episode the city comes under the attack of a giant flock of Pterosaurs, which are like flying piranhas. In the third episode, people exposed to some type of virus, begin losing their memories. One of these people include Jim's wife. Then there's a story about a young girl who leaves the Sixers to seek refuge at Terra Nova. She turns out to be a reluctant spy. In the fifth episode, Jim investigates the colony's first murder--by dinosaur--and there's the birth of a baby Ankylosaur.
It's also made clear that whatever the humans do, it will not affect their future as this is an alternate past. So the future is wide-open.
This new television show has the same problem as Spielberg's other television series, FALLING SKIES-- there's too much military crap. I was hoping for the same wonder as JURASSIC PARK and instead get another series about people not getting along, like the BBC show OUTCASTS. I want to see these characters explore this strange, prehistoric world. I want to see more dinosaurs, not just the 30 seconds they show each week. Sad to say, TERRA NOVA is nothing new.