I am a fancy-pants big-wig. I am horribly important and terribly busy. My wallet is too small for my $20s and my diamond shoes are too tight. People like me get to see shows before anyone else, because the opinion of our kind moves mountains. These are the reasons I have already seen the first episode of JJ Abram's new series ALCATRAZ.
That, or they showed the first episode to everyone on a recent flight. One of those two.
Let's get opinion out of the way -- I saw the first episode of ALCATRAZ, and I loved it. The premise is the stuff of long-form storytelling perfection. In real life, Alcatraz closed on March 21, 1963. The prisoners were transferred to other facilities, the guards moved on to new work. In the show's context, however, all of those prisoners and guards just up and vanished. Now, 50 years later, the prisoners are coming back -- exactly the same age they were when they vanished.
Coming back ... to do eeee-vil!
There is a nefarious purpose behind this phenomenon, but we do not know what it is. This is another "big mystery" series, similar to the LOST formula which was unsuccessfully copied so many times in the last few years. The advantage to ALCATRAZ, however, lies in its episodic nature. Each episode will (probably) feature a prisoner coming back and doing the bidding of the Unknown Big Bad. The Bad-Ass-But-Still-Hawt-Woman-Cop Rebecca Madsen (Sara Jones from SONS OF ANARCHY) chases these bad guys down with the help of historian Diego Soto (fuck yes, it's Jorge Garcia, who was Hurley from LOST) and Emerson Hauser, the Mysterious Benefactor From A Super-Secret Black-Ops Agency That Know More Then He Lets On (double-fuck-yes, Sam Neil from JURASSIC PARK). So Alcatraz has the promise of making each episode an enjoyable hour's worth of watching with a logical, satisfying ending, yet stringing these episodes together into a long-form story that could last three to five full seasons.
The acting is solid, the mood is modern and cool, and the setting of Alcatraz comes complete with its own overwhelming sense of sinister. It's a clever concept, it plays on real history, and -- dangit -- it just seems to work. I'm definitely in for at least five episodes based on the strength of the pilot alone.
One can only hope Abrams has learned from LOST, i.e., he already knows how ALCATRAZ will end. Ah-whaaaat? I dare to transgress on the holiest of holies known as LOST? Yes, I dare. The producers of that show told us over and over again that they had it all planned out, that the characters weren't in purgatory, that it was "scientific" and not paranormal, and on and on and on, and yet we all know how that ending turned out.
So it is my deepest hope that Abrams has brought the house this time, that he knows the full story and how it will end if they get the ratings needed to go four or five seasons.
My review of Alcatraz? I'm in.