Fox today showed off the first three minutes of footage from its long-in-the-works, very costly Steven Spielberg–produced, time-travel dino-drama Terra Nova, and this much we can say for sure: It makes the lavish island sets of Lost look almost Gilligan’s Island–like in comparison. Indeed, at first glance, the footage was so cinematic, we thought we were watching a sneak peek of Avatar 2 — but alas, there are no blue people or USB ponytails in evidence. Also left unseen: any dinosaurs. While there’s a giant Jurassic Park–style thud — followed by some poor soul being dragged away by an unseen monster — that indicates something big is out there, producers are so far keeping the creatures out of sight.
In case you haven’t been tracking this project, Terra Nova revolves around a family (and some other folks) who travel back in time in order to basically reset civilization after folks in the near future screw things up. After slipping through a time tunnel, they end up in a lush tropical locale (very Pandora-like) overseen by a dude who’s clearly a baddie (Avatar’s Stephen Lang) and issues ominous proclamations such as “Welcome to Terra, folks. Welcome home.” Everything seems to be going great until the aforementioned monster (we’re guessing a dinosaur) is heard thumping around in the distance and then pulls somebody away from camp. “What was that?” somebody yells, and then the screen flashes what might be a tagline for the series: “There is no paradise without sacrifice.”
TV reporters tend to be skeptical about early sizzle reels for new projects, but based on some instant Twitter reactions, more than a few critics seem impressed by what they saw. “Just saw the Terra Nova clips. OK, I’m in,” wrote Hollywood Reporter TV critic Tim Goodman; Daily Beast contributor Jace Lacob called the trailer “great” with “shades of Lost.” The producers are trying to discourage such Lost comparisons, however. “This has nothing to do with Lost for one reason: It’s so made for a massively broad audience,” producer-director Alex Graves told reporters. “Terra Nova, more than anything I’ve ever done, is made for everyone.” We’ll see if everyone agrees when it debuts May 23.