“Alcatraz” is happy to be a little bit “Lost.” At Comic-Con International, show-runner Elizabeth Sarnoff said the new drama’s creators “totally embrace” its similarity to “Lost.” It’s not that surprising, considering she was a producer on that show, and both series are from J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot.
“Certainly there’s no better show” than “Lost,” Sarnoff said after screening the “Alcatraz” pilot episode Saturday evening in Ballroom 20. But “we’re our own show. We want to do our own thing…. We’re thrilled to be doing something else that will hopefully be somewhere near as entertaining.”
“Alcatraz” tells the story of 256 of the country’s most notorious murderers, rapists and thieves who vanish from Alcatraz in 1963, only to turn up one by one in present-day San Francisco — unaged and ready to commit more crimes. A detective (played by Sarah Jones of “Sons of Anarchy”) teams up with a government agent (Sam Neill, “Jurassic Park”) and an Alcatraz expert (Jorge Garcia, “Lost”) to discover what happened to the “63s” and who’s pulling the strings behind their vanishing and reappearance.
The pilot was well-received by the Comic-Con audience, who cheered when Garcia appeared onscreen in his first major role since winning over viewers as Hurley on “Lost.”
“I definitely love working with these people,” Garcia told the packed ballroom, “because they make the television that I like to watch. To get to be a part of it is just, you know, this great bonus.”
Director Jack Bender said one of the most interesting characters in the show is the prison itself.
“Alcatraz, I remember as a little kid, always scared the crap out of me,” Bender said. “It’s dark, it’s ‘the Rock,’ it’s the island where all these bad people were in the middle of beautiful San Francisco Bay. So I think it has that allure still for people.”
Although “Alcatraz” shares some characteristics with “Lost” — a group of people trapped in an island prison, possible time travel, plenty of flashbacks — Sarnoff said the new show aims to move fast and answer the questions it poses.
“The big difference between this show and ‘Lost,’ I think, is that this show has an incredibly aggressive story engine,” she said. “I mean, these guys are back, and there’s going to be a bad guy they’re going to have to catch every week. And so that is certainly the biggest difference. And then, you know, we want to answer these questions. We want to explore the mythology. We want to do flashbacks and see Alcatraz in its heyday.”
“Alcatraz” premieres in January on Fox.
– Noelene Clark
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