So begins Terra Nova - a series that starts in a future world so harsh and unwelcoming that the discovery of an orange is a big event. Things are grim in this time - air quality is at an all-time low and a two child limit has been passed to control the population. But the Shannon family - led by cop Jim (Jason O'Mara) and doctor Elizabeth (Shelley Conn) - have broken the rule, having their youngest daughter Zoe (Alana Mansour) in secret.
Zoe is soon snatched away by Population Control officers and Jason is locked away in Golad Prison when he attempts to fight back. Two years later, Elizabeth bribes a guard to visit Jim - she's been recruited to join the latest pilgrimage to Terra Nova. Jim is excited, until he learns that Zoe will not be able to go with her family.
But Elizabeth has a plan - she sneaks a small laser cutter into Jim's cell and he's able to escape from Golad. Taking a pass, cash and a gun, Jim sneaks into the Terra Nova departure facility. Meeting with a contact, he swaps the cash for a mysterious package and reunites with his family.
However, Jim has been spotted by security and is pulled aside. Elizabeth and their other children Josh (Landon Liboiron) and Maddy (Naomi Scott) reluctantly pass through the portal to Terra Nova, but none-too-subtle Jim punches out a guard and runs after them. He's transported to Terra Nova - it's the planet Earth, 85 million years ago, untouched by human civilisation.
Jim is seized by security and the guards demand that he open his package. Inside is Zoe - Lord knows how long she was in that bag. The new arrivals are escorted to the Terra Nova colony where they meet the camp's leader - Nathaniel Taylor (Avatar's Stephen Lang). The first man through the time portal, Taylor is a gruff, no-nonsense military man who's taking charge of this strange new world - nothing like Lang's role in Avatar then.
Jim and Elizabeth are summoned to meet Taylor - "A doctor we need," he tells them. "An escaped fugitive… not so much." Jim asks to be allowed to resume his duties as a cop, but Taylor doesn't trust the new arrival, relegating him to agricultural detail.
The Shannon family are taken to their new quarters, but all is not well. Jim has to reintroduce himself to Zoe, who barely remembers her father, while Josh is still bitter about the time the family spent alone. A curious Zoe soon wanders off and begins feeding a diplodocus that's kept locked in an enclosure. Her family panic, but Zoe is perfectly safe - they're herbivores. Do your research, Shannon clan!
The next day, Jim heads off to his job with the agricultural department, while Elizabeth reports for medical duties. On their way to orientation, the Shannon kids spot the probe - the first thing ever sent through the time fracture. Brain-box Maddy explains that the probe was sent back but never recovered in the present day. That's how scientists knew that they were dealing with a new time-stream - one that was safe to colonise. We better hope they checked thoroughly!
Moody Josh storms off to find some food and attracts the attention of a local girl, Skye (Allison Miller). Jim spots his son sneaking off with his friend and is furious that he's not attending orientation, but Josh is still angry and ignores his father's protests.
Skye introduces Josh to her friends - a gang of teenagers who have their own home in Terra Nova. One teen, Max (Eka Darville) suggests "a little OTG" action - Outside the Gates. The teens explore the jungle outside of the colony and Skye shows Josh something strange that they discovered on a previous jaunt - some form of equations scrawled into the rocks. We're sure that's not significant at all...
In the medical lab, Elizabeth is treating a thief who was siphoning power from Terra Nova's grid. But the thief isn't as ill as he appears - springing into action, he holds a laser cutter to Elizabeth's throat and forces the soldier on guard to give up his gun.
While on agricultural duty, Jim spots the suspicious looking thief and saves Taylor when the crook attempts to gun him down. Thankful, Taylor takes Jim for a stroll out into the jungle, explaining that the thief was one of the 'Sixers' - the group of people who arrived on the sixth pilgrimage to Terra Nova.
Stealing equipment and weapons, the Sixers have formed a rival colony. "Until we know who sent those people back and why, I don't know who in the future I can trust," explains Taylor. He offers Jim a spot on his security team, which the former cop gratefully accepts, but he's soon thrown straight into the action as Taylor spots a pair of Sixer transports heading fast to Terra Nova. "Things are about to get ugly," he growls.
Jim and Taylor race off in pursuit, but the Sixer transports are already being pursued by a pair of vicious Carnosaurs - time for some Dinosaur Action! Taylor - resident bad-ass - leaps from his vehicle to draw the dinosaur's attention, giving the camp's security team time to repel the creature with a sonic weapon.
But in the confusion, the Sixers have managed to breach Terra Nova. Led by the frosty Mira (Christine Adams), the group demand that the captured thief - Carter - be returned to them. Taylor eventually agrees to trade Carter and some medical supplies for the Sixers' stash of meteor rock, which contains precious ore.
Meanwhile, Josh, Skye and pals are still out in the jungle, drinking a secret stash of "moonshine" - prehistoric style! Back at camp, Taylor bonds with Elizabeth over family matters - turns out Taylor had a son of his own in the science division, but he's been missing for years. "I haven't given up on him," rumbles Taylor, in a moment of rare emotion.
The Sixers leave Terra Nova in their transports, but two of them spot the vehicle abandoned by Sky and the teens. They steal the transport's power cell, but soon one of the Sixers is killed by a roving 'Slasher' and the second, Drake, is forced to take cover.
When Josh, Skye and the gang return, they discover that their transport has been stripped - they're stranded. Luckily, Taylor and Jim are reviewing security footage and spot Josh and Skye sneaking out of camp hours before. "If we don't get to them quick, something else might," warns Taylor.
As the Slasher approaches, the teens take refuge inside the Sixer transport with a wounded Drake. His vehicle's power cell has been crushed, but the youths discover a communication device and send out a desperate plea for help.
Taylor's rescue team moves out, with frantic mother Elizabeth insisting on accompanying Jim. But Taylor reveals that when he first came through the portal, he was alone for 118 days before anyone else arrived - "This jungle can be survived," he assures the Shannons.
Taylor's team picks up the teens' message, but the Slashers are back on the offensive and the signal drops out. Josh and Skye take the fight to the creatures, blasting away with the transport's machine weapons - nicely done! But one of the teens - stupid Tasha (Aisha Dee) - decides to make a break for it and is badly mauled by a Slasher.
Taylor's team find Tasha and Elizabeth rushes her back to camp for surgery, while the security team continue to search for the other kids. But Taylor's team pick up Sixer radio chatter - it seems that Mira is nearby. "Damnation!" growls Taylor - a curse-word that hasn't been in common usage since the 1940s.
As the siege of the Slashers continues, Max and Hunter (Sam Parsonson) are both injured, but Taylor's team arrive just in time, with Jim taking down the chief dino just seconds before it rips off his son's head. With the kids safe, Jim and Taylor head off to recover the wounded Drake, but he's already vanished. "Mira," says an angry Taylor. "She came for her man."
Josh is returned home and the Shannon family share a group hug. Meanwhile, Skye apologises to Taylor for leaving the camp - it seems he's been looking out for her since her own parents died. Taylor warns Skye to stay clear of the jungle falls in future - "Those can be some treacherous waters."
But what is Taylor really hiding? At the falls, Mira and Drake inspect the carvings in the rock. They've been left by Taylor's "crazy" son, it's revealed, to remind the colony's leader of the real reason for Terra Nova's existence. "Control the past [and you] control the future," explains Mira. "These are the key to everything."
Back at the camp, the Shannon family marvel at the first Moon they've seen in decades, with no idea of what awaits them in this strange new world...
• After much hype, a year-long delay and rumours of an escalating budget, Terra Nova is finally here - but is it actually any good?
• Well, it's clear where the money went - the show is visually spectacular and the CGI effects wouldn't look out of place on the big screen.
• The Shannon family is also well-cast - in particular, the resemblance between on-screen mother and daughter Shelley Conn and Naomi Scott is remarkable.
• Unfortunately, the family themselves are all a little one-dimensional - the square-jawed father, moody teenage son, wide-eyed innocent daughter and cute baby girl. Hopefully future episodes will develop the characters beyond these stereotypes.
• There's also a few too many cheese-laden moments - see the slow-mo reveal of Zoe in the package, the moment where Zoe recognises her father or any of the 'romantic' scenes between Jim and Elizabeth. It's a shame that 'family' drama often feels the need to include this kind of sickly sentimentality.
• We'd rather have more dinosaur action! That said, when the dino attacks do come, they're great fun - well-staged, with some impressive CGI work.
• It'd also be good to see time-travel play a more central role in the show's plot - the story arc with Taylor's missing son seems to hint at this.
• Our favourite moment in this 90-minute premiere? When Taylor learns that his comrade's daughter is among the missing teens, he avoids any comforting words and instead gives him a firm two-handed slap on the shoulders - that's how darn butch he is!