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Terra Nova: Humanity's Heroes Meet the Press

In Terra Nova, a rip through time allows 2,000 humans from an Earth that's in its death throes to travel back in time 85 million years in an effort to give humanity a second chance. Executive producers Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria, pilot director Alex Graves and star Stephen Lang discuss the show.
JURASSIC PLANET:
Aren’t the people who sent them back who aren’t going back with them worried about being fixed out of existence? And what exactly are they hoping to achieve by doctoring the past? Why are the people in the present not worried about being unmade by them?

BRANNON BRAGA:
I feel like we’re at a Star Trek convention [laughs]. That’s a great question. It’s a series premise question, and what they’re hoping to do is deal with the fact that Earth is essentially dying. Most animal life is extinct. They’re hoping to restart humanity through this time fracture they’ve discovered. They’ve built a giant centrifuge around it, a particle accelerator. They’re hoping to send people back to recolonize Earth, essentially, and give humanity a second chance. What effect that will have on the future, they’re hoping it will be a positive one; that it will be “tweaked”. Timeline issues and stuff like that we don’t get into now, because that’s story material further down the line. But that’s their hope, a second chanced for humanity.


Left-to-right are executive producers Rene Echevarria and Brannon Braga


RENE ECHEVARRIA:
And the great thing about it is that when you wink out of existence, you don’t even know what hit you.

STEPHEN LANG:
Also, the idea that by going back in the past and doing something automatically changes the entire future is an alternative theory about time. There are a number of others out there that have to do simultaneous universes and parallel stuff. It’s been suggested that if you do something in the past, it does not necessarily change the future.

JURASSIC PLANET:
If the show takes off and does really well, you’re going to get hammered with all sorts of different types of questions. Do you have a very deep bible? Do you have a whole big concept beyond just what’s on the page scientifically, culturally – all that kind of stuff for just such emergencies?

RENE ECHEVARRIA:
Absolutely. We do. There’s been an enormous amount of research and planning, and consultants have been brought in.

BRANNON BRAGA:
We have Jack Horner, the preeminent paleontologist, consulting for us. He’s worked with Spielberg in the past on the Jurassic Park films. He’s been wonderful. We’ve taken a long time to create these worlds, both in the past and the future. The show will have episodic storylines, but there are continuing elements of mystery and suspense that we have plans for.

JURASSIC PLANET:
Are you going to be going back and forth in time or is it a situation that once you’re in the past, you no longer look at the future?

BRANNON BRAGA:
Our philosophy is we’ll go to the future as it impacts our family in the past, because at the core of this show is the Shannon family. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the dinosaurs and the creatures and the ecosystems and the effects, but it’s really, at its core, a very emotional show. Hopefully that came across in the trailer, that’s it’s really about a frontier family surviving in this incredible place. Not only trying to restart humanity and give humanity a second chance, but themselves as a family, because they, as you’ll see in the series, have problems of their own.

JURASSIC PLANET:
How do you think this will play to kids? Will they freak out and not be able to go to bed without the light on? Also, what was life like on Earth 85 million years ago?


Director Alex Graves, who helmed the two-hour premiere of the series


ALEX GRAVES:
It’s not a scary show. It’s an adventure show. I have young kids and they’ve already seen some of it, and they loved it. It’s adventure scary, not scary scary. What we know about the Cretaceous period is it was a lush period, beginning of flowers and a lot of things that are depicted in the pilot. And then it really just goes into the types of dinosaurs and the fossil record and gray areas of the fossil record in terms of where were dinosaurs in regards to evolution, and how much were they starting to evolve into birds at that point is a big part of what we’re doing. So you’re going to see dinosaurs you haven’t seen before.

BRANNON BRAGA:
What’s fun is we have dinosaurs that we know existed from the fossil record, but you get to make up your own dinosaurs as well.

ALEX GRAVES:
We’re filling in some blanks.

JURASSIC PLANET:
I have a question about the timeline. Eighty-five million years ago is the setting, but 20 miliion years from then, there’s a giant asteroid that destroys all life on Earth.

ALEX GRAVES:
Yeah, the series will not go 20 million years [laughs].


BRANNON BRAGA: In the show, let’s just say that they’re acutely aware of that fact and have a plan in mind.

RENE ECHEVARRIA:
And they have 20 million years to effect that plan.

JURASSIC PLANET:
Stephen, we’ve heard that the show is largely about the family, but your character is obviously not a part of the family. If he sort of the antagonist here, or is he going to be more complicated than just the bad guy?


Actor Stephen Lang (who also starred in Avatar), portrays Colonel Frank Taylor

STEPHEN LANG:
If I had read the script and Commander Taylor were merely a villain or written clearly as the antagonist, I would have been far less enthusiastic than I was. And the truth is when I read the script, I wanted to do it immediately. He’s a very rich character. He’s a mysterious character. But he’s had a lot put on his shoulders. He’s the first one to come through that time hole and spent his first four months there solo – there was no one behind him – and then began to build this community. And as our story joins, for seven years he’s been fathering, sherherding, leading this community. And I think in that time his investment, his personal investment, his caring for this community is so dense,s o deep, that I think it can play havoc sometimes with your perspective. And if you put any group of individuals together in a closed situation, which essentially is what this community is, you know that there are going to be disagreements about how things should be resolved, how questions and issues should be dealt with. Well, ina situation like this, it’s not really a democracy at all. So there are bound to be people who disagree with the decision and who may cast, in their own eyes, Taylor as a dark character or a villain. But his intentions this is not just an actor defending his character. I’m quite happy to do that, but it’s not the fact. The fact is Taylor is an idealist of the first order. His idealism has never been diminished or diluted. But I do think that idealism can sometimes spill over into kind of a zealousness that can have all kinds of repercussions. But the easy answer to the question is that if he’s the protagonist, you’ve got to have an antagonist [laughter]. So I guess that might be me.

JURASSIC PLANET:
Stephen, earlier you mentioned time travel theory. Is this…

STEPHEN LANG:
Yeah, like I know anything about it [laughter].

JURASSIC PLANET:
But is this the sort of thing that interests you, or have you been doing a lot of research between this and Avatar lately?

STEPHEN LANG:
I got my first interest in time travel when I used to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle, because Mr. Peaboy would go back in the Wayback Machine with Sherman [laughter]. As to my understanding of time travel… really, that’s pretty much the extent of its sophistication [laughter]. But I Googled it and I went to friends of mine who are smarter than I am, and they turned me on to that stuff about all the alternative theories. To what is possible or impossible… or theoretically possible, anyway. So that’s kind of the extent of my knowledge about it.

TO BE CONTINUED
0 Yes
0 No
EdGross
2/18/2011

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1 Comments

It definitely felt like an ode to the Marine Corps. riad tile

robinjack - 7/29/2018, 6:58 AM

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