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I like to imagine that if Jorge Garcia and Sam Niel backed out of J.J. AbramsAlcatraz due to extreme insulaphobia, the producers would just go down the list of combination Lost and Jurrasic Park stars. First they would ask Matthew Fox and Jeff Goldblum, then Evangeline Lily and Laura Dern until they eventually settled on the guy that played Boone and the bottom half of an animatronic triceratops.

I watched the two episode premiere of Alcatraz and I definitely enjoyed it. It seems to be the J.J. Abrams show that has learned from the mistakes (real and perceived) of previous J.J. Abrams shows. It is a serialized mystery like LOST, but they have clearly planned out a trajectory for the show as opposed to “let’s keep doing crazy shit and hope it all works out in the end.” I say this only because there is no way he would pitch another show with no endgame after the complete shit-bagel that was the final three seasons of LOST. It also relies on the LOSTesque “present day/ flashbacks” plot device to tell it’s 50 year spanning story. It worked for the first few seasons of LOST and I expect it to work for this show as long as they don’t lose themselves trying to make TOO MANY interweaving back stories in the flashbacks.

Despite the fact that I think Fringe is the best show on television, period, I know that there are aspects of it that have scared off a mass audience and even universal adoption among geeks and sci-fi fans. Chief among them are the show’s “bad guy/experiment gone wrong of the week” elements overshadowing the overall story arch and vice versa. With a show like Fringe, or the X-Files or now Alcatraz striking a balance between episodic story and seasonal story is key to maintaining audience interest without leading to frustration. Alcatraz has laid the groundwork for a pretty flexible mix between the two that should lend itself to compelling stories with a fair amount of payoff vs. new questions. Since the premise depends on some 250+ inmates, guards and personel coming back from the past (seemingly one at a time) there should be room for a nice mix of “there’s a new murderer on the loose,” “there’s an inmate that we can feel sympathetic toward,” “hey, now there’s  a guard and we need to help him find closure,” and due to the large numer of returning baddies they should be able to do the occasional ep featuring groups of them coming to the present to cause trouble.

Of couse, I might be just overly optimistic that Bad Robot is going to take everything they’ve learned from making (mostly) high quality television over the last decade and put that knowledge to good use. As a frustrated fan of LOST and an evangelist for Fringe, the “right things to do” seem obvious to me. Then again, I don’t make TV shows.

Speaking of people that make TV shows and J.J. Abrams, my dear friend Amy is now a writer/executive producer on Bad Robot’s Person Of Interest. It premiered at a time that I felt like I was being crushed under the weight of the amount of TV I was already watching, but I have only heard good things about the show. I need to start watching and get caught up.

COMMENTERS: What did you think of Alcatraz? Good start, shows potential or pass?  How exactly has their island time effected Hurley and Dr. Grant’s daily lives? What other combination of LOST/Jurassic Park cast members should be on Alcatraz, or any other show for that matter? How about an CSI spin-off starring Anna Lucia and Nedry? She’s the angry, drunk, tough-as-nails detective who keeps accidentally murdering people, and he’s the fat, bumbling forensic scientist that keeps getting acid spit into his face!

Speaking of other people that make TV showsJon Rogers makes a show called LeverageWil was a guest star on that show, during filming he got the whole cast saying/doing the “Sci-Five,” Aldis Hodge adlibbed one during the season finale (“The Last Dam Job”) and IT MADE IT IN! A phrase coined by one of my shirts, was uttered and acted out in a TV show that I watch. ON THE TV! What is that I don’t even…