Welcome to another J.J. Abrams-produced mystery island show. Alcatraz was one of several new TV series premiered at San Diego Comic-Con Wednesday night, and it was by far the standout.
The series centers around a mysterious event in 1963 that made 302 Alcatraz prisoners and guards vanish without any explanation. For some reason we don’t yet know, a prisoner named Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) appears in present day Alcatraz and makes his way to San Francisco to seek payback from those who’ve done him wrong. It’s up to a spunky young police officer (Sarah Jones), assisted by a geeky Alcatraz expert (Jorge Garcia), to stop Sylvane, all the while dealing with a mysterious federal agent (Sam Neill) who clearly knows more about the Alcatraz disappearances than he lets on.
Alcatraz shares elements of other Abrams-produced shows like Lost and Fringe, and it’s also reminiscent of the under-appreciated USA show The 4400. But the show does more than just retread familiar territory. By the end of the pilot episode the Comic-Con audience was clearly wanting more from yet another J.J. Abrams mystery box.