Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting locked up with 'Alcatraz'

JJ Abrams just knows how to get to me.

Yes, the director and creator of shows like "Lost" and "Alias" has a free pass from me, but there are always limits to that.

Abrams' lifetime pass is good for a full episode of a new show of his. While I thought "Person of Interest" was a good show, it wasn't enough to keep me interested week after week.

Now "Alcatraz" on the other hand...

The show's premise is that the island jail of Alcatraz never closed, everyone inside vanished and it was covered up. Now cut to the present and these missing people are now showing up. And they haven't aged a day.

Before we get any further, yes it's kind of like "The 4400." The people here also has no memory of where they have been.

It's also like "Lost" in a sense that each episode flashes back and forth from the time on Alcatraz to the present. Each new episode follows a returning prisoner or guard and a special group tracking them down.

Jorge Garcia from "Lost" plays an Alcatraz expert and comic shop owner who provides valuable info on each returnee.

Sarah Jones plays a San Francisco cop who stumbles into the mystery when her grandfather (an Alcatraz prisoner) kills her partner.

Rounding out the team is the super creepy Sam Neill ("Jurassic Park") and Parminder Nagra ("ER").

Here's what I like about it: It's "Lost" enough to a point where it can be mysterious but not annoying. Yes, there are giant mysteries to solve, but they do answer a lot of questions so far in the first few episodes.

Obviously the how and why are they back won't be answered right away. But, we get enough breadcrumbs to keep us coming back.

The chemistry is great, especially Jones and Garcia. It's very much a ragtag partnership, but it works on so many levels.

Another interesting side note is how they explore each returnee. While we don't know their motivations (some come back to steal things, others kill), we do see how horrible their lives were on Alcatraz.

The show does a great job walking the line between explaining why they're bad and almost making the audience feel sorry for them. The guards and warden are a-holes. Above and beyond "just doing their job."

This week brings the first guard coming back, which should bring a new interesting take to the show.

Check it out.

"Alcatraz" airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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