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Premature Infatuation: Alcatraz 

UPDATED: This pilot has now been ordered to series. Yay! So now I have a few months before my premature infatuation might become a plain old infatuation.

If you’re anything like us, you pay a lot of attention during pilot season. I like to track which of my favorite actors have been cast, if any writers/producer/directors I admire have been attached to any shows, and what fresh and new (or old and boring) concepts/genres might make an appearance on my TV come fall. I haven’t seen a script or a pilot, I’m just excited (or obsessed) based on what little information I know. My first pick is: Alcatraz.

The Concept: Per deadline, the show chronicles the efforts of tenacious cop Rebecca (Sarah Jones) and a team of FBI agents tracking down a group of missing Alcatraz prisoners and guards who reappear in the present day.

J.J. Abrams

The pedigree: J.J. Abrams. I’ve been a fan since Felicity and I’ve watched every show he’s been involved in except Fringe and I know I need to get with the program on that. In case you need a reminder – and I feel confident you don’t – here are the shows he’s created and/or executive produced: Felicity, Alias, What About Brian, Six Degrees, Lost, Undercovers, and Fringe. While not all of these series have worked I found something to love in all of them. And while having J.J. Abrams involved in the pilot doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed success, I feel like it’s more creative, innovative, and interesting for having his point of view. He’s especially adept at mysteries and what is Alcatraz if not that? I like the added angle of drama and danger in having the criminals be escapees, and in the future. I think there is so much great potential here.

The writer: Elizabeth Sarnoff. I can’t remember where I saw her speak as a panel but it was during her time on Lost. She told us how it was to work with David Milch on Deadwood. And she talked about Lost. Since then I’ve been a fan. I will watch anything she wants to write. And I know it’ll interesting and different.

Jorge Garcia

The talent: You say Jorge Garcia, I say yes please. He wasn’t on my radar until Lost and he was such an important part of that show. I loved Hurley’s levity and different point of view. It was nice to have someone like him on that island. More recently you may have seen him on How I Met Your Mother, Fringe, or Mr. Sunshine. Those were guest star or recurring shots. I’m excited to see him return as a lead.

Sam Neill

Sam Neill. I’ve know him and loved him since Jurassic Park. He’s done a number of television projects but I didn’t sit up and pay attention until he was cast as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey on The Tudors. Now, I don’t watch historical dramas with an eye towards accuracy but Sam Neill’s portrayal actually made me want to learn more about the real man. You may also have seen him in Crusoe and Happy Town.

Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones. I’ll admit right out of the gate that I don’t know anything about her even though she’s appeared on some of my favorite shows like Justified and House. She’s got a pretty impressive list of television credits so I’m happy to see they’re giving her a chance at playing a lead character.

Parminder Nagra

Parminder Nagra. I was no longer watching ER during her time on the show. I only know her from Bend It Like Beckham and I’m a fan. I’m excited to see her back on the small screen.

Robert Forster

Robert Forster. He’s had a long and impressive career but I didn’t know about him until I saw him on Karen Sisco. I loved that show. You may remember him as Arthur Petrelli from Heroes. He’s also guested on shows such as Desperate Housewives and Numbers.

The rest of the cast includes Santiago Cabrera, Jonny Coyne, and Jason Butler Harner.

Why I’ll Be Watching: I can’t say the history of Alcatraz fascinates me personally, but I often like my shows educational. That sounds boring but in this case I’m excited to learn the history of Alcatraz and more about which infamous criminals managed to “escape.” I know no prisoner ever managed to escape from Alcatraz so I like the the writer has chosen to rewrite history in such a way as to make those escapes possible. I’m also interested to see how these criminals will function and adapt in modern society. I’m curious to see how and if the FBI can explain these occurrences and how much time it takes to track these criminals down.

Personally I’m a big fan of cop shows so I’m excited to meet this team of FBI agents and see how they work. I also like crime shows (which don’t necessarily have to be cop shows), so that element interests me as well. I love that the lead is a woman, and based on her age maybe a bit inexperienced with something to prove. I’m very excited to see which high-profile prisoners (if any) will be escapees. I wonder if some of the cast above will play them or if guest stars will be brought in for those roles. Either way I’m excited.

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