Television Review: J.J. Abrams' Alcatraz Pilot Episode

Mystery! Intrigue! Numbers! What might be time travel! A slightly subdued Hurley!

Yup … it's a J.J. Abrams show.

This time around, producer Abrams teamed up with a number of previous teammates (including Lost writer Elizabeth Sarnoff and director Jack Bender) and like-minded collaborators to apply his familiar blend of contemporary melodrama and the paranormal to the cop genre. Abrams has always excelled at bringing compelling characters and a uniquely infectious balance of real-world emotion and fantastical sci-fi to the small screen, and Alcatraz does deliver on those counts, albeit in a much subtler and more mainstream way than, say, Fringe.

Abrams has also always excelled at delivering the kind of mind-blowing pilots and debut seasons that capture the imagination and ensure a dedicated viewership. But when compared to the bulk of his more recent TV work, the first two hours of Alcatraz come off as decidedly mediocre — they remind the viewer that the guy who helped bring you Lost is also the guy who helped force-feed you Alias.

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