You might not have noticed, but there has been a hole in the landscape of TV series. Many got hooked on the over-the-top intricacies of Lost and have been looking for some show that follows in its footsteps. Well JJ Abrams is back in full force, probably to the chagrin of some people, with another mysterious and preposterous show in Alcatraz.

The premise of the show is that the prison was to be closed on May 21st, 1963. The day before they are to be transferred off the island, everyone mysteriously disappears. It’s now present day in San Francisco and the inmates are starting to reappear and pick up right where they left off before they were sent to The Rock. The cast has some familiar faces and some ones you might not know. Rebecca Madsen, played by Sarah Jones, is an SFPD detective who gets drawn into the Alcatraz case by Emerson Hauser, an FBI agent who leads a super secret ‘squad’ that investigates these returning inmates, which is really just him and Lucy, a tech/assistant. By the end of the pilot she partners up with that Hurley guy from Lost, who plays Diego Soto, the ‘Alcatraz expert’. The rest of the cast has a bit of a Heroes flavor, with Robert Forster, aka Papa Petrelli, and Santiago Cabrera, the prophetic painter Isaac Mendez.

The show does manage to cram alot of mystery into the pilot episode. There are fingerprints from a former inmate of Alcatraz at a modern crime scene. The first inmate to ‘come back’ seemingly wakes up in the present day in a cell. Hauser, played by Sam Neill, plainly knows more then he is letting on and how his character is developed throughout the season is one of the things to watch. Of course there’s the big mystery of how exactly these inmates came to the present. It could be as simple as time travel or  more complex such as something in the water they drank. Whatever it turns out to be, I’m sure it’ll be in the same imaginative vein as Lost.

So the bottom line is this: Is Alcatraz an entertaining or watchable show? The short answer to that is yes, but there are a few caveats. The premise, while certainly stretching the edges of willful suspension of disbelief, is nonetheless intriguing and can draw you into its world. The show switches constantly from the present day of Madsen and Hauser to the early 1960s of Alcatraz in order to show that week’s featured inmate in their time. Some might find it hard to keep track of two storylines, but the past angle helps explain the actions of the inmate in the present. The acting has its bright spots particularly in Jones’ portrayal of Madsen but Soto’s character leaves alot to be desired. Alcatraz is certainly a show that is worth watching, but if any form of a Black Mist shows up, I’ll stop watching immediately.

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