That's Not Pandora -- That's <i>Terra Nova</i>

Terra Nova, the Steven Speilberg-produced dino-drama, doesn't have a pilot or even a premiere date, but already it's drawing comparisons to Avatar.

Okay, the promo art looks a little like Pandora -- and Naboo, the Genesis Planet, parts of the Four Nations, and a half-dozen other tropical and vaguely alien locales. Also: China's Wulingyuan National Park (the inspiration for James Cameron's moon setting). However, The Live Feed notes that Terra Nova received "some design help from a designer who worked on Avatar," so perhaps any visual similarities aren't entirely coincidental. And, hey, why wouldn't Fox want to remind audiences of Avatar, which has raked in more than $2 billion for parent company News Corp.?

So what, besides Spielberg's name and visions of Pandora-sized ratings, would make Fox order 13 episodes of Terra Nova sight unseen? For starters, three other names: Peter Chernin (former CEO of Fox Entertainment Group), Brannon Braga (24, FlashForward) and David Fury (24, Lost), who join Spielberg as executive producers. Braga also will serve as showrunner.

Beyond that, there's a sci-fi high concept that seems to combine environmental themes with elements of Land of the Lost, Valley of the Dinosaurs -- remember that, anyone? -- Earth 2 and Battlestar Galactica:

In the year 2149 the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and overpolluted. With the majority of plant and animal life extinct, devotion to science has brought mankind to the brink of destruction, but has also provided its only hope for salvation. Knowing there is no way to reverse the damage to the planet, a coalition of scientists has managed to open up a fracture in the space-time continuum, creating a portal to prehistoric Earth. This doorway leads to an amazing world, one that allows for a last-ditch effort to save the human race...possibly changing the future by correcting the mistakes of the past. The series centers on the Shannon family as they join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to TERRA NOVA, the first colony of humans in this second chance for civilization.

JIM SHANNON, a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new land of limitless beauty, mystery and terror. Jim's wife, ELISABETH SHANNON, is a trauma surgeon chosen through a global lottery as a new addition to Terra Nova's medical team. JOSH SHANNON is their son, mourning the girl he left behind, as he's torn between two role models--his father and the charismatic COMMANDER FRANK TAYLOR, the leader of the settlement, and the heroic first pioneer through the time portal. MADDY SHANNON, Jim and Elizabeth's teen daughter, is as independent and adventurous as her parents, but her distrust of authority soon leads her on a dangerous path.

In addition to blue skies, rolling rivers and lush vegetation, TERRA NOVA offers new opportunities and fresh beginnings to its recent arrivals, but the Shannons have brought with them a familial secret that may threaten their citizenship in this utopia. Additionally these adventurers soon discover that this healthy, vibrant world is not as idyllic as it initially appears. The areas surrounding Terra Nova are filled with dangerous dinosaurs, and other prehistoric threats, as well as external forces that may be intent on destroying this new world before it begins. But perhaps even more threatening than what lies outside the protective walls is the Shannons' realization that something sinister may be happening inside TERRA NOVA as not everyone on this mission has the same intentions of how best to save mankind.

Fox hasn't announced any cast members. As Josh Wigler reported this morning, Terra Nova won't receive a premiere date "until the network can determine how long it will take to shoot while raising the standards for special effects on television."

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