Creators of ‘Lost’ set sail for a new island in ‘Alcatraz’

By Lucas Hampton

lhampton@uccs.edu

Published: Monday, February 20, 2012

Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012

alcatraz

Image courtesy of fox.com

“Alcatraz” the new FOX series, proves to entertain, but only for avid fans.

Producer J.J. Abrams teams up with several writers from his TV series "Lost" to create "Alcatraz," a new FOX television series that premiered mid-January of this year.

The series is exactly what one would expect if "Lost" had drunkenly stumbled into the wrong room of his seedy apartment complex only to find a depressed and overweight "Law and Order" droning on about her bygone success, which isn't to say it's a bad thing.

The plot begins as the remaining inmates of Alcatraz prison are being transported when the prison shuts down in 1963.

The conflict arises as a conspiracy is revealed – the inmates were never actually transported off, they all disappeared. The story then takes us to present day.

A team consisting of a lucrative corporate backer, played by the familiar face of "Jurassic Park's" Sam Neill; a young, street savvy cop, played by Sarah Jones; and a witty prison expert, played by "Lost's" Jorge Garcia, search for the suddenly reappearing Alcatraz inmates.

Presented in the framework of "Law and Order"-esque unraveling of clues and soaked with character development reminiscent of "Lost," "Alcatraz" appears to be checking all of the boxes of traditionally successful elements.

Providing its viewers with a healthy dose of detective thrills, crime fighting action and highly rich and implausible back-stories of the characters involved, the series looks brilliant on paper; unfortunately, only about half of its attractiveness makes it to the screen.

The writers pained to chalk each episode full of character development, and in the process, they have failed at creating one fully relatable character.

Several moments expect a real emotional investment to the characters, which, either due to the young age of the series or overzealous writers, simply hasn't been made possible; the result is a failed attempt at dramatic action.

Producer J.J. Abrams assured his audience that "Alcatraz" would not require such a heavy investment, as was the case with "Lost."

He stated that "the show could not be more different" and that it "will be infinitely easier to come into after it has begun," which potentially gives new viewers reason to be thankful. The series is seven episodes in with only episodes 3 through 7 available online.

"Alcatraz" is not without hope; its premiere night brought in almost 10 million viewers – overtaking "The Bachelor" for the number two most watched television show.

Yet, since its premiere, the series brought in only about 6 million viewers – dropping its rank down to eighth, causing speculation that its days may be numbered.

Perhaps the series is more akin to "Lost" than Abrams thinks; the plot may be easier to pick up, but actually caring about the show does require a heavy investment, and therein lays the hope.

The series will entertain, but only if one is dedicated to staying in every Saturday night.

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