Terra Nova might as well have been a contemporary drama set in a jungle somewhere; it certainly didn't seem to be the groundbreaking must-see-TV event it aimed to be. The interesting futuristic society established in the first few scenes of the pilot episode were never really explored again in depth. The dinosaurs, when we saw them, didn't deliver that sense of wonder that was present in Jurassic Park or other exciting adventure stories of the past. With a name like Spielberg attached to the production, even if he was linked in name only without much creative input, I was expecting more.
As I watched it, hoping the poor-excuse-for-a-story was going somewhere, I grew frustrated with the lack of innovative ideas. The drama was forced and uninspired, the characters were unoriginal stereotypes, and the sci-fi elements were boring, the final kiss of death.
Despite common belief, a science fiction series doesn't necessarily need to be ridiculously expensive to produce or loaded with special effects, it just needs to have solid, imaginative ideas. Terra Nova, like so many other lackluster television shows, seemed to be making stuff up as it went along, pilfering from other stories to bide some time without really adding anything new or fresh to inspire viewers to tune in week after week.
Done the proper way with intriguing, meaty storylines, they could have gotten away with showing the dinosaurs sparingly (Spielberg knew how to do that with Jaws, for example), but when the story is all empty calories the audience then grows restless and demands to at least see giant dinos battling each other and hunting down humans for as much of the hour-long episode as possible -- and no multi-million dollar budget can live up to that expectation week after week.
I'm sure others have different opinions on what went wrong, and maybe they can fix it if Terra Nova manages to live again on Netflix or some other place, but that's my two cents, give or take a penny. What do you think?