When I first saw trailers for the new J.J. Abrams show “Alcatraz” on Fox, I couldn’t help but notice how similar it looked to Abram’s previous primetime incarnation, “Lost”. I thought, “Seriously? Another pseudo-soap-opera about a group of people mysteriously disappearing off of an island?” It seemed too ridiculous to be true. To add even more, the show would be starring Jorge Garcia (“Lost” fans will know him better as Hurley”). Although I didn’t particularly hate “Lost”, the prospect of going through the same motions for another disappointing pay-off was certainly less than appealing, but nevertheless I found myself watching yesterday’s two-hour pilot anyway.
I have to lead off by saying that the show is…not terrible. The first hour went by at a pretty good pace, mostly serving to introduce and characterize the main protagonists as well as set the stage for the series. The second half of the pilot, however, left much to be desired. Unlike most of Abrams’ works, where the premiere is action-packed and mentally-engaging, the second hour was, for lack of a more fitting word, boring.
The two main characters, Sarah Jones (played by Rebecca Madsen) and Dr. Diego Soto (Garcia) form a kind of buddy-cop duo, but to be honest they lack a certain chemistry. Although Soto’s character acts as a nice mechanism for comic relief, Madsen’s role is a little too flat to make for a dynamic pairing. Sam Neil’s character could prove to be a nice wildcard, but so far he’s been little more than the crazy man in the corner who seems to know more than he lets on. I feel that unless an energetic, Sawyer-type character is introduced it may be tough for audiences to stay interested.
As with most Abrams productions, it’s tough to tell just how good it’s going to be from just the pilot, but I have to say that unless the show takes a more exciting turn (which I’m sure it will, given Abrams’ track record) it’ll have a hard time avoiding a network lockdown (get it?) after its first season.
Have a different opinion on the premiere? Let us know what you thought leaving a comment below. Haven’t seen it yet? Watch it now on Fox’s video channel.