Fox has not made a decision on a Terra Nova renewal, but the series’ producers are moving to secure key actors and beef up writer ranks to be ready for production on Season 2. The options on the cast of the prehistoric drama are up on December 31, and I’ve learned that pickups for stars Jason O’Mara and Stephen Lang are imminent. With the cast options’ expiration date looming, the network originally was expected to make a decision on the series last week, following a top-level meeting between the heads of 20th Century Fox, which produces Terra Nova, and Fox on December 16. That didn’t happen, but the pickup of sought-after actors O’Mara and Lang gives Fox a little bit of breathing room, and the network is now expected to make its decision in January. That would make for a very tight production schedule on Terra Nova, which has to begin filming in April to make a September premiere date because of the series’ extensive post-production, including visual effects.

The search is already underway for high-level writers to join executive producers Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria in Season 2 as the network and studio are looking to elevate the writing on the show going forward. Last night’s two-hour season finale drew a 2.2 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.2 million viewers, a tad better than last week’s series low; it didn’t make Fox’s decision easier by making the case for a renewal one way or the other. And the network has to make the call on Terra Nova in a vacuum, before having seen its development for next season. (Fox faces similar pressure to rule on the future of veteran House next month to give the veteran series time for a proper sendoff should this be its final season.) Still, with strong DVR viewing, big international sales and Peter Chernin and Steven Spielberg behind it, Terra Nova at this point appears likely to be renewed.