Alcatraz: J. J. Abrams Takes Us To Another Mysterious Island, Tries To Make Our Heads Explode

It took me a while to get around to watching the first two hours of the new TV show “Alcatraz.” There have been comments that it is trying to be the next LOST (which I think is true, even down to the music) and that Jorge Garcia’s character is trying to be too much like Hurley (which doesn’t seem to me to be the case, at least so far).

When “Doc” (Garcia’s character) learns that prisoners did not get transferred from Alcatraz, but simply disappeared, and are now reappearing not having aged at all, he quips, “Did anyone else’s head just explode?”

LOST, of course, spent a fair amount of time trying to make our heads explode, and frequently failed to then help us pick up the pieces and reassemble them. Fringe also began with mysteries and has done a better job of providing answers that are satisfying and do not simply lead to more questions. Alcatraz seems to be closer to the latter than the former, and indeed further along the spectrum in that direction. Although what exactly happened, how, why, and who is behind it are all still mysteries, we are not simply given people on an island the nature, history and importance of which are all unknown from the outset. Rather we have been presented a rather clear puzzle and a few initial clues.

The premise is interesting, and the delivery so far has kept my interest as well. I plan to keep watching.

My guess, given the brutality and callousness we see in the flashbacks (yes, it has flashbacks) to Alcatraz in 1960, and the few medical scenes so far, is that someone was allowed to do some sort of experiments beneath the prison related to time travel, using the prisoners as guinea pigs. And when something went wrong, everyone was shifted in time. But as with LOST, we’re expected to start formulating theories, and past experience with J. J. Abrams suggests that some or all of them will be wrong.

Have you watched Alcatraz? If so, what did you think of it?

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  • Considering that I hated the LOST finale…and even blogged about how much I hated it, I don’t think I’ll be starting Alcatraz. On the other hand, Abrams did a fantastic job with the Star Trek reboot…I just don’t know what to do?!

    • Any strong feelings about Fringe one way or the other? That might be a better guide than the Star Trek reboot, the greatness of which might have as much to do with what was already there to work with as with what Abrams brought to the project.

      There haven’t been any lens flares in Alcatraz that I’ve noticed. 🙂

      • I swore off Abrams (other than Star Trek) after LOST so I never watched Fringe. If you tell me that it answers more questions and has more respect for the audience than LOST did, I’ll trust you and start watching 🙂

        • Well, I will say that my feeling about Fringe is that it has gotten better and better, and consistently provides answers to questions it raises or shows evidence that it is moving towards doing so. But since the series is still ongoing, I can’t promise anything, since there is still time to botch the ending. 🙂

          Michael, I have thought that the acting is fantastic, but I am reluctant to give examples since those would be spoilers Leslie might not appreciate.

          • I’m actually fine with spoilers. In fact, I’m a spoileraholic. So feel free…

          • Well, Leslie, if you don’t mind spoilers, then I will tell you why I am so impressed with the acting on Fringe.

            The story involves a parallel universe, and so as the series progresses, we get to see some of the actors portraying different versions of themselves who have had somewhat different lives. I think they do a spectacular job.

            That’s a spoiler regarding Fringe that it would have been hard to avoid anyway, and it is revealed during the first season, as I recall, and so it should not detract from your enjoyment at all, should you decide to give the show a try!

  • It’s very “Lost-y” in its writing: bad dialogue, cardboard characters, some predictable plot twists. Interesting premise, though.

  • Michael Wilson

    As with Fringe, poor charachters and sub par actors turned me off. Didn’t care for the writing eithier.

  • Ken Brown

    Well I obviously loved LOST (in fact, I finally convinced my wife to watch it, so we are in the middle of season 3; I’ve assured her that this is the low point of the series, but she’s still hooked). Anyway, Alcetraz is interesting, but it hasn’t yet sucked me in like LOST did.I don’t understand the comment above about bad acting though, I found the acting on LOST consistently good, and occasionally great.