'Alcatraz' is off to a promising start

'Alcatraz' will have to maintain a balance between case-of-the-week storytelling and enough backstory to keep viewers involved.

Danny Moloshok/FRE/AP
'Alcatraz' star Jorge Garcia (l.) and executive producer J.J. Abrams (r.) discuss the show during the Fox Broadcasting Company Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in California.

The Plot: From executive producer J.J. Abrams comes ALCATRAZ, a thrilling new series that follows Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia) and Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) as they attempt to investigate the mystifying reappearance of 302 of Alcatraz’s most notorious prisoners and guards, 50 years after they vanished.

The First Impression: Do you really have to ask? After all, where J.J. Abrams leads (See: ALIAS, LOST, FRINGE, among others) this TV Addict follows. A decision that quite frankly has been made all the easier thanks to ALCATRAZ’s ridiculously enticing concept, immensely likeable ensemble and two-hour series premiere filled with just about the requisite number of plot twists one might expect from a series that’s being billed as “From Executive Producer J.J. Abrams.” Also adding to our overall enthusiasm for this addictive new series is the escapee-of-the-week premise that should, if handled correctly, allow for viewers suffering from mythology-fatigue (See: FLASHFORWARD, THE EVENT, among others) to easily follow what’s going on in stark contrast to some of Abrams previous offerings. That said…

The Concern: Has us reminiscing back to the troubled first season of FRINGE and wondering whether the showrunner that has taken serialization to an entirely new level is even capable of crafting a show around standalone episodes. In otherwords, despite Abrams assertion during the recent Television Critics Association Press Tour that had him, alongside co-executive producer Jennifer Johnson, promise that ALCATRAZ is procedural television done right, it remains to be seen whether or not the series will be able to deliver a case-of-the-week compelling enough to attract your typical NCIS/CSI viewer while still managing to sprinkle in enough mythology for viewers who prefer the LOST-style of storytelling. Either way…

The Verdict: Has us itching to find out.

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

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