Saving Terra Nova and its Implications for Power of the People

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I’ve been pondering again. Contemplating that discord I experience within myself between my geek like tendencies and my guilt that perhaps my interests and fascinations only add to the frivolity of our North American culture.

I Twitter follow Jason O’ Mara of the science fiction television series “Terra Nova”. “Terra Nova” has finished its first and possibly last season. It’s a great apocalyptic story of a group of settlers and military going back 85 million years in time to save the human race from its self-destruction.  While there is some violence (I don’t think you can get away from violence when there are dinosaurs involved) it’s a series which many families can enjoy together.  I know my family certainly does and considering the fact I’ve a teenage son, and preteen daughter, there are not many programs that interest all of us enough to sit down and watch them together.

Over the last several weeks, it was brought to the attention of the Twitter world by Mr. O’Mara that the Fox network is seriously considering cancelling this program. I was one of the first fans to write, and tweet Fox with regard to my opinion on this impending decision. “Don’t pull a “Firefly” with this show” I wrote, “It has the potential to become the new “Lost”.”  “Save Terra Nova” now has a petition with thousands of signatures, there is a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/SaveTerraNova  and posts in several different languages and fans all over are sending plastic dinosaurs to Fox hopefully to demonstrate to the Dark Lords of Fox the worth of this program.

A few months ago Nathan Fillion, star of the current y running hit series “Castle” and beloved by scifi fans for his portrayal of Malcolm Reynolds in Joss Whedon’s  “Firefly”, twittered an article regarding freedom of speech issue. Apparently, Professor James Miller of the University of Wisconsin-Stout was being forced to remove a poster from his door which referenced a “Firefly” quote and a picture of Nathan Fillion as Mal, who delivered the line. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111227/15534717208/how-firefly-fans-made-one-universitys-campus-safe-free-speech.shtml Author Neil Gaiman also alerted his Twitter followers to this violation of the First Amendment.  “Firefly”fans everywhere cried out so loudly in outrage that eventually the University had to back down. As Neil Gaiman notes (paraphrasing here), you should never upset science fiction fans who feel their favorite show has been cancelled in an untimely way.

Why? Why do we get so passionate about these programs?  Why are we so focused on these seemingly frivolous pursuits? Here in lies the crux of my internal struggle.

I can’t help but look at these incidences as examples of the power people have when they band together in a common cause.  Just think  what the world would be like if we could channel this Geek Power and apply it to environment issues,  women’s rights,  government corruption, poverty… the list goes on and on.  As my friend and UU Minister, Ellen – Cooper Davis wrote to me in an online discussion we had on this topic “What if Firefly fans worked to dismantle oppression/empire instead of for the fictional version?  What if Hunger Games fans worked to challenge injustice and exploitation instead of just obsessing over the fictional version?” What if Terra Nova fans worked just as hard to prevent environmental disaster as we do to prevent cancelation?  Could we make a difference? If we could only get as passionate about the ozone layer as we do about the cancelation of our favorite shows, yes, I think we could.  Geeks change the world, look at Jules Verne, Einstein, Gene Roddenberry… television’s first interracial kiss was on Star Trek.

Human beings are story tellers. We’ve been telling stories since our pal eolithic ancestors first began painting on cave walls. Druid story tellers were considered so powerful that it was thought they could magically curse you if they sang a story against you. Storytelling is perhaps the most important aspect of humanity to separate us from animals. Stories give us a form by which we pass our life experiences onto others, learning not only by instinct or by experience but by the knowledge of others through generations of experiences. These television programs and movies are our modern cultures’ way of sharing stories. George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, James Cameron, and  JK Rowling  are our modern Bards, their heros are our modern  Heracles , Finn McCool, King Arthur, Achillies, Cu Culchulain, and St George.

We need to allow the power of story to work in us, and then we need to actually go out and become that change in the world. Look at what we can do when we voice with one voice! No power in the ‘verse could stop us.

4 responses »

  1. I will have to disagree with you. Terra Nova does not have the potential to be the next “Lost” as as at least that show was somewhat interesting and had good acting. Nor can Terra Nova be compared to “Firefly” which was actually a good show. I really wanted to love Terra Nova and watched the whole season but was quite disappointed with the lack of scifi element, made up dinosaur names (why not use real ones?), bad acting (everything was wooden), trivial plot line that could have been much better, and there was little warmth between the familial characters themselves. The show was predictable and I felt nothing for the main characters.

  2. Thanks for your Comment GoodbyeNavi. Let’s get one thing out of the way first. NOTHING can ever replace FIREFLY. My comparison was in the reaction of fans to cancellation not to the shows themselves. Whether you liked it or not, you cannot argue that Terra Nova has it’s own strong following begging to be heard and recognized by the Lords of Fox.

    I have to say that you are the first I’ve spoken to who hasn’t liked the show. Firstly, I do see many similarities between Lost and Terra Nova. There is a hole left by Lost that Terra Nova can fill if given the chance. People stranded in an unknown environment with strange and unusual mysteries unraveling (how did the prow of a boat end up out there in the middle of no where 85 million years in the past?) fighting a powerful and yet to be revealed enemy, (who is at the heart of the Pheonix group and what is their real plan?). One difference in the shows is that Lost takes a mystical turn where Terra Nova delves into political questions, especially surrounding Commander Taylor. Do we trust him or is he just making himself out ot be a demi-god? I have to wonder who is the real bad guy here? It’s definately building up to shades of grey.

    As for the dinosaurs, they are nto all made up, there is a combination of fact and imagination going on here which I think is brilliant. http://www.terranovatv.net/dinosaurs/ After all, I’m sure there were many more types of dinosaurs in the Cretacious period than we know about. We are still discovering that there are species TODAY that we don’t even know about. When it comes to the dinos I think the effects are pretty damn kick ass. Also, what I like is that the show isn’t JUST about dinos, it’s about people and survivial. There are no gratuitious dino scenes.

    I can’t answer to your reaction to the acting. That’s just a matter of opinion. I think it’s pretty good actually. As I mentioned, one thing I like is that there are children’s and teen storylines. There are very few shows that families can enjoy together.

    One BIG difference I think between Firefly and Terra Nova is that Firefly had the story, and characters and the relationships down pact right from the start. This is very rare for a first season. Joss Whedon and the Firefly team nailed it in the first episode. Most shows, Terra Nova included, takes some time to develop. With Terra Nova, they’ve just BEGUN to tell the story. They really need another season to explore, develop, enfold and deepen these characters and their relationships to each other. I really think there are enough fans to justify this.

    Now my final point, you seemed to have missed the premise of my posting. It’s not so much about saving Terra Nova, it’s about pulling together and joining forces to create change in the world. This “Save Terra Nova” thing and The “Firefly Freedom of Speech” thing are simply the examples I used to point out that when we speak together as one voice we can make ourselves heard in the world. There is a pervasive feeling of helplessness in todays world when it comes to the really big and important issues. I used these examples to point out that helplessness is an illusion.

    • I didn’t miss the premise of your post, just chose to disagree with Terra Nova being a good show. Although I may be the first person who has voiced a dislike for the show, you are the first person who I have read supporting the show. Terra Nova had an hour for each episode and a full season, that’s enough time to give at least some information. You speak of the public expressing opinions and feeling helpless, this is a member of the public expressing her opinion. Also comparing canceling a TV show to feeling helpless when it comes to “the really big and important issues” is a big jump as Terra Nova is not a big and/or important issue. It’s a television show that didn’t live up to it’s potential. Obviously, I am not the only one who disliked it if the show is up for cancellation.

      I thought you posed a compelling argument, I just disagree. My family did not enjoy this show together, I’m glad yours and others’ did. There are other shows that families can enjoy together; this may be one of the few on the main channels but there are thousands of channels where there are shows for families. :)

  3. Pingback: A Top Ten List of Stuff I Never Get Tired of « Geeky Girl

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