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Terra Nova’ relies on plot devices almost as prehistoric as show

Courtesy of Fox

“WALL-E” meets “Deep Impact.” “Jurassic Park” meets “Avatar.”

Yep, that’s Fox’s new TV series “Terra Nova” in a nutshell.

“Terra Nova” takes place in 2149, in a world where the air quality has deteriorated so much that plant life has died off. In an attempt to save the human race, groups of people are shuttled back 85 million years in time, where they coexist with dinosaurs.

The show follows the Shannon family, which is fairly two-dimensional. Some none-too-original daddy issues arise after the father spends years in jail before breaking out to join his family on the “pilgrimage.” The angsty teenage son doesn’t respect his dad, which makes for some relatively predictable storytelling after he wanders off with a pretty girl and finds himself in a perilous situation.

The star of “Terra Nova” is Stephen Lang, who doesn’t vary too far from his role as the baddie in “Avatar,” and in fact, “Terra Nova” feels a lot like “Avatar” at times. His character isn’t as rich or memorable, but he’s certainly more of a presence than the others.

Still, “Terra Nova” is fairly entertaining. It’s fantastical enough to be captivating and the scale of it all makes for good TV.

However, it doesn’t quite have the appeal of other sci-fi epics such as “Lost.” “Terra Nova” is nothing particularly earth-shattering, and at times, feels rather by-the-numbers, even for a show about people from the year 2149 living among dinosaurs.

The actors are wooden, the script is hamfisted and the show takes itself a little too seriously for a show with a basis so silly, yet I couldn’t look away. Watching people share a jungle with TV-level CGI dinosaurs is just escapist enough to make up for its derisive elements.

The two-hour series premiere of “Terra Nova” is set to air Monday at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Grade: B-

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