Sure, Steven Spielberg's Terra Nova has dinosaurs and a harsh prehistoric environment — but just how nasty will it get? And will we actually be seeing dinosaurs every week, or will there be episodes where people just hang out and process their feelings?
Rest assured, dinosaur lovers. The show's star, Jason O'Mara, went on a conference call to reassure reporters that the show will indeed feature large amounts of giant reptile carnage. He also told us what to expect from the show's unwinding mysteries. Spoilers ahead...
On how many people will be killed by dinosaurs this season:
So you just want an idea of the human fatality count, is that it? Do you want a number? Okay, how best to answer this. Dinosaurs do kill people. We don't kill dinosaurs because they're animals and we are as humane as possible when we try to corral and wrangle the local wildlife so we use nonlethal, humane weapons to control them.
They, however, don't have the same control with us; they're animals; they're wild and sometimes they get hungry so we have to be very vigilant around that. There are other fatalities to look forward to in the season, you'll be glad to hear, Henry, but they aren't always series regulars. However, I can reveal that one of the characters that you will have come to know, and hopefully love, will die by the end of the first season. There will be a death of a regular character by this season's end. ...
Just to put everybody's minds at rest there will be dinosaurs in every episode regardless of how human the stories become, we'll always a healthy dose of dinos.
On O'Mara's character, Jim Shannon:
I think his primary goal is to protect his family and ensure that they thrive and survive in this new place. He's also been sort of, whether he likes it or not, he's sort of been made the sheriff in this frontier town. So he has to kind of go along with what [the leader, Nathaniel] Taylor does and says and sometimes he has reservations; sometimes he's in accordance to it, but the questions that are brought up sort of affect the very fabric of Terra Nova's society that is being created as we go along.
Even though Taylor is heroic in many ways in what he does, he also can be a little bit autocratic and so not everybody agrees with how he rules and Jim has to tow the party line to an extent. There is also a kind of partnership and a friendship that is emerging between Taylor and Shannon. I really enjoy kind of the subtleties and the little relationship beefs that we have between all the characters on the show. It's kind of – I believe it's quite unusual.
On Jim Shannon's disagreements with his wife:
Well, listen, there are a couple of times in the upcoming season where we do argue about what is right. There are a lot of moral questions being asked with regard to how this place is run. Yes, there are a few moments where our opinions cross, but that's what's really exciting about this world because we're sort of building this place from the ground up we're able to ask these allegorical, sociological, and philosophical questions about the world we're living in now and where we're going and what we would do if had a second chance. I must say that dinosaurs aside, that's kind of the thing that I find most intriguing about the series.
On trying to make it more than just a science fiction niche show:
Well, I believe the expression in the TV business is four quadrant appeal and I think that's what they call it in that world. As far as I'm concerned as an actor, I read the script and I thought, look, this is so cool that there is time travel involved; there are obviously a lot of visual effects. There are futuristic effects, dinosaur effects, all sorts of things going on, but one of the earlier scripts very much read as a genre piece.
We're trying to create something that's a little bit bigger than that. It's not just for a niche audience; this isn't Battlestar Galactica; it's not Star Trek. This is not for, necessarily for sci-fi fans out there even though I think sci-fi fans will get a lot out of it. This kind of has that all-inclusive look and feel of a true Steven Spielberg production where people are going to E.T. for the cinematic experience not because it's just about a boy's relationship with his alien who comes down from space.
That's kind of how the feeling is on Terra Nova. This isn't just about time travel and dinosaurs; it's about a lot more than that. I think that's what's going to bring this show and put it on sort of a level where an entire family can watch it from the ages of-I think it might be suitable for sort of 10 year olds maybe, 11 year olds. I'm not quite sure what rating they're putting on us, right through to people in their 80s. I really do stand behind that. I think there is literally something for everybody.
I know that can be tricky. I know that's hard to do. Everybody is really aware of that, but I'm betting that, and I have a pretty good feeling about the fact that we've done something approaching to that and hopefully we'll succeed.
On Terra Nova as a flawed paradise:
[The Shannons are] a very lucky family. They're one in a million. They've managed to escape this dying world and get this second chance in this sort of Utopia, this beautiful place which has been sold to them, certainly if there was ever a travel brochure it would be sold as just the most beautiful place imaginable, a Utopia.
However, once the Shannon family gets there you realize, and it doesn't take too long, you scratch the surface and you realize that there is something else going on here. There are splinter groups, splinter factions, people challenging Taylor's rule over the place. You also find out that there are people close to Taylor who have become estranged and might even be plotting against him and his sort of rule, for want of a better word, as commander over Terra Nova.
By the way, you know, who put [Taylor] in charge? Was he ever elected? All these questions are asked so the Shannon family are caught up in all of this and they become the audience's eyes and ears and they get involved in a first-hand way directly in the intrigue that's taking place, politically and socially. At the same time trying to sort of survive in this place that is certainly a lot more hostile than it's first thought and it's not just the dinosaurs.
On how Jim Shannon will feel when the next group of settlers arrives, and he goes from being a newcomer to being an old hand:
The 11th Pilgrimage is coming and it's coming at the end of Season 1, but we don't know what the 11th Pilgrimage is going to be made up of. By then it could be pilgrims, but it could be something else far more terrifying.
[Jim Shannon] settles down into his role as sort of town sheriff. He settles into it pretty quickly, so he's already kind of laying down the dos and don'ts for a lot of the colony. Yes, I think it would be nice for him to not be the new guy all the time, but at the same time it's enjoyable for me as an actor and for the audience to see Jim do things for the first time.
It's fun as an actor to discover things for your character as opposed to show other characters around. As I said, we don't know what the 11th Pilgrimage will bring, so there are lots of mysteries and story twists to look forward to.