Time-travel, can they make it work?

Time-travel has long been a popular premise for SciFi, but the whole concept just seems ripe for disaster. Not the good kind of disaster – the kind that takes the shape of plot holes big enough for a semi truck to drive through. On the other hand, some of my favorite movies have been built around time-travel (the Terminator franchise) and I’ve even written a time-travel short story (though my time bending was pure fantasy via divine will).  Obviously, there is a huge appeal to this premise.

The new Fox drama, Terra Nova is the latest TV series to be built around time-travel. A future generation is going back in time to escape the wrecked world they’ve created. Tim D. Moon’s blog has my review of the pilot episode up (please go there and read it!) but I wanted to take a moment to look more deeply at the time-travel aspects here.

The notion of going back in time to start the human civilization, long before we know it to have evolved, has some pretty big paradox problems. I’ve even heard some people cry fowl before giving the show a chance (you know who you are *grin*). In the Terra Nova pilot one of the characters explains that paradox isn’t a problem for them because they are actually crossing into another time line–not their own past. Okaaay. Setting aside the moral issues (clearly it would have been someone’s past they’re screwing with) I can buy this explanation and move on. Then they offered further proof that all was safe by relating how they had sent a probe back through the space/time fissure and when it never showed up in their time line they had the proof they needed that this is not their past. Okaaay. I can buy this too, again setting aside those pesky moral issues.

Conclusion…Terra Nova’s time paradox problems are solved. But not really, one character implies that all is not as it seems. There is a secret plot, afoot. Something about ~the way to control the future is to control the past. So…what’s my verdict on the pilot episode? You’ll have to go over to Tim’s blog to find out! Or watch the show yourself and come up with your own opinion. If you missed it, the Terra Nova pilot is available on hulu.com.

In the mean time, why do you think time-travel is such an appealing premise?