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In Terra Nova, why were those who were evacuated sent to 85 million years B.C. in particular? Was there no choice in the destination, or could other temporal locations have been considered? Does this particular time period hold any benefits over earlier or later periods, in terms of facilitating the survival and reconstruction of human civilization?

ELISABETH SHANNON: "Eighty-five million B.C.? You people couldn't have traveled to after the Ice Age?"

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It was stated quite clearly in the pilot that they discovered a fracture in time and space. At first they didn't know where it lead to, so they sent a probe through it with a beacon, hoping that they'd later locate the probe on Earth and figure out where it went to. Since the probe never showed up, that's what let them know it created a different time stream.

They don't control the fissure or facture, they found it and had to work with what they had.

(I'd provide lines, but it was given in different parts, throughout the pilot, so there wasn't one concise explanation given all at once. Part was explained by talking billboards, part by Maddy, and other lines here and there. Actually, some of this exposition is mumbled or given in throw-away lines, mainly intended for those that would already know enough to ask such questions.)

  • The technobabble in the first episode, while the gateway is opening, implies that while the fracture is what made the time travel possible, the wormhole itself is created anew with each pilgrimage. (Implications unknown, but I suspect it has to do with the beacon not being found in the present, but future pilgrimages still end up in Terra Nova instead of splitting the timeline again. A free escape route for the writers...) – Izkata Dec 10 '11 at 5:40
  • @Izkata: I caught that, too. I had the impression that there was a fracture that allowed the wormhole to be created, but that they needed that fracture for the wormhole to go through -- or some similar concept with the same result. – Tango Dec 10 '11 at 5:43
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They believed they had no choice in the matter. Their current understanding of the technology they had created let them appear 85,000,000 years in a past timeline with what they were told was a one way trip. There were hints of other wormholes in time which led to other places but these stories were not substantiated by the premature end of the series.

In their future of 2149, the world is in terrible shape. Earth's water supplies are nearly gone, the oceans are no longer visible from space, population controls are rigidly enforced, filter masks are worn by everyone and they are huddled together using broken technology, basically waiting to die in their overcrowded hovels. Until a group of scientists discover a portal through time, into a cross-dimensional rift to another Earth, 85 million years ago.

Production Notes:

Terra Nova is another attempt at a time travel story without full-scale time travel. The FOX promotional material describes its basic story-line: “The show follows an ordinary family on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a daring experiment to save the human race.”

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