Abrams Does it Again with ‘Alcatraz’

English: J.J. Abrams at Time 100 Gala

J.J. Abrams, the man with the crypto plan. ... Image via Wikipedia

J.J. Abrams has been churning out hit television series for quite a few years now—think Lost and Alias—and he’s done it again with the cryptodrama Alcatraz (FOX, Mondays, 8 p.m.), which features Jorge Reyes, Sam Neill, and Sarah Jones as a thrown-together motley crew trying to corral the 300+ former inmates of Alcatraz who, it turns out, weren’t “transferred” to other prisons in 1963, as authorities claimed, but somehow spirited away by an as-yet-unidentified entity (or entities) and are now showing up in San Francisco doing dastardly deeds and causing general havoc.

So, yes, in some ways this is a cop drama, portions of which are just like any other cop drama you’ve ever seen, but in other ways … oh, in other ways this is a show that taps into the inner crypto fanatic so many of us harbor—you know, that part of us that loves not just a great mystery but a great unknown, something that’s hidden, never before revealed, weird, tantalizingly close but mind-blowingly out there. Abrams first tapped into this with Lost—the mother of all cryptodramas—and he continued it with Fringe and now Alcatraz (not to mention movies such as Cloverfield and Super 8). In fact, of the three—yes, three—current hit TV series that sprang from Abrams’ mind, two of them (Fringe and Alcatraz) are distinctly of this variety, and the third, Person of Interest, has a definite crypto strain despite being decidedly more mainstream in nature.

And in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I love the whole crypto thing. Whether it’s the bizarre, hatch-filled tropical Island of Lost or the bizarre, catacomb-filled island prison of Alcatraz, I can’t get enough of Abrams’ well-constructed mysteries. And that’s a key point, as well: These shows are well done, with rich characters and intriguing plots, and though the climax may be disappointing (see Lost), the overall journey is one heck of a thrill ride, and I hope Abrams can keep it going for many years to come.

And P.S.: I love seeing Hurley on an island again. =)

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