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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Five Predictions for J. J. Abrams' New Fox Series Alcatraz

Posted By on Wed, May 11, 2011 at 2:14 PM

click to enlarge KGSUDHI

Big news for fans of things that start kind of awesome and then have a serious chance of petering out! After a couple of weeks of uncertain wooing, that Alcatraz TV pilot that J.J. Abrams and company shot out on Michael Bay Island has been taken all the way by Fox. It's going to series.

I09 suggests that the show will be a sci-fi mystery, possibly with time-travel elements, while Deadline calls it a "crime drama," most certainly with Sam Neill. Either way, the story concerns a group of Alcatraz inmates and guards who vanish in the past and reappear in the present, kind of like the ships and biplanes in Close Encounters, which suggests Abrams has spent his time with Master Spielberg taking lots of notes.

Good for him.

Since Abrams also created Alias and Fringe and had a serious hand in Lost, we feel confident in a couple of speculations:

1. Episodes will start at their most dramatic moment, with explosions, waifish women in underwear, or everybody pointing guns at each other and sweating, before then flashing back to 24 hours earlier.

2. Great pilot, some compelling mysteries, beautiful women kicking much ass, and a moment each week when you wonder, after the show, "Is this all going to make sense by the end?"

3. Mysteries will be teased by pseudoviral online campaigns whose clues will be hotly debated on message board comment threads by interns affiliated with the production company. Also, Sam Neill plays "Emerson Hauser," which is sure to send Losties to Wikipedia to bone up on transcendentalism and Idaho cities.

(Rejected Sam Neil character names: Thoreau Fruitland and Dickinson Potlatch.)

4. Actors you kind of like can be written off at any time, especially if they hit puberty, are not on so often that they're not auditioning for other shows, or are Bradley Cooper as Will Tippin.

5. That the show's quality will always be in direct proportion to the amount of attention Abrams is giving it. This guy -- he's like a kid who imagines up Tinker Bell but then forgets to clap for her, at least until the season finale.

There is, of course, a long history of Alcatraz-themed filmed entertainment, from Burt Lancaster as its Birdman (not a superhero) to Sean Connery as the man who blew it up for some reason. The Rock later inspired this 10-minute YouTube tribute from a man who describes it as "arguably the best film in the world."

Arguably.

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Alan Scherstuhl

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