Watched the two-hour season premiere of “Alcatraz,” the new Fox drama produced by none other than J.J. Abrams…the man behind some of the more mind-bending television series that have aired over the last few years including “Alias,” “Fringe,” and of course…“Lost.”
I was a passenger for the entire voyage he sent viewers on with “Lost” but unlike many, I was satisfied with how he left things at its “end.” That being said, it was a most challenging trip to sail on and keep pace with. In a world of fast-food, smart phones and instant information, it should be understood boarding one of Abrams’ shows you will likely travel down many, many creeks and side streams…and navigation to a final destination might not be as final as you prefer.
After taking the first two-hour tour of “Alcatraz”…I’m likely to ride out this journey as well.
If you aren’t familiar with the premise…on March 21st, 1963 some 302 criminals and guards mysteriously disappeared from the prison island of Alcatraz, forcing its closing and creating a massive cover-up. Now, after almost fifty years…some of these folks are mysteriously making their way back into society. With scores to settle. And “missions” to accomplish.
While it seems “Alcatraz” will present at least one new returnee each week, with them eventually being discovered and dealt with for the most part by the end of each hour…you can already see in the first two hours of this series many threads starting to form and extending out from an otherwise taut fabric of a traditional TV episode’s beginning, middle and end.
Solid acting from the lead performers. Abrams deftly cast “Lost” alum Jorge Garcia as a Comic-Con/Academic expert on all things Alcatraz who reluctantly winds up working resulting homicides with a young, attractive reassigned San Fran cop played by Sarah Jones (“Sons Of Anarchy,” “Big Love”). A second team of sorts (that may or may not have been thrown together) sports familiar faces with long-time movie and TV star Sam Neill as a Federal Agent working alongside a mysterious aide played by “ER” alum Parminder Nagra…both of whom know more than they’re letting on. Part of the fun here looks to be watching Garcia and Jones’ characters trying to break down the information walls Neill and Nagra’s characters work behind…about the break out.
For those who spent part of their viewing lives with Abrams on another island…the “Lost” one…it is understandable to some extent they may not feel ready to hop on another. Certainly, you can see the influence of that show on this one. Besides the obvious fact Garcia is one of the stars, the music and editing will remind “Lost” fans immediately who runs this series. However, the good news is all of the settings we’ve seen so far…whether in flashbacks to the 60’s or present day…have been very much centered in one universe.
Trust me, I thought twice about stepping onto “Alcatraz.” It might be a tougher place to live eventually, but so far the accommodations look pretty darn inviting.