Will the new J.J. Abrams series ‘Alcatraz’ sink or swim at Emmys?

What do you get when you combine the talents of executive producer J.J. Abrams, director Jack Bender and actor Jorge Garcia with the setting of a mysterious island? In 2005, it was an Emmy award for Best Drama Series for ABC’s sci-fi epic “Lost.” And now that all those elements are coming together again for Fox’s new series “Alcatraz,” one has to wonder whether Emmy will come calling again.

Despite its impressive pedigree, “Alcatraz” faces an uphill battle when it comes to the Emmys. Genre shows have had a notriously rough history with these top TV kudos. “Lost” is the only such show to win Best Drama Series. Over the past two decades, seven other sci-fi/fantasy series — “Game of Thrones,” “True Blood,” “Heroes,” “Joan of Arcadia,” “The X-Files,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Quantum Leap” — were nominated but none prevailed. 

James Hibberd (EW.com) describes this new high-concept series in detail: “‘Alcatraz’ follows a San Francisco police detective (Sarah Jones) who teams with an expert on the prison (Garcia) after a murder suspect turns out to be a Alcatraz prisoner who disappeared from the island about 50 years ago. It seems the killer wasn’t the only prisoner to vanish — or the only one to return. And now they must stop the Alcatraz escapees as they re-enter modern society without having aged — and try to solve the mystery of how this is happening, and why.”

“Alcatraz” also stars Sam Neill (“Jurassic Park”), Parminder Nagra (“ER”), Robert Forster (“The Descendants”), Santiago Cabrera (“Heroes”) and Jason Butler Harner (“Changeling”). The pilot script was penned by “Lost” alum Elizabeth Sarnoff along with Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt.

While the series doesn’t premiere until Jan. 16, TV journalists have already seen the pilot, and the early reviews are positive. At the inaugural Critics’ Choice Television Awards  last summer, “Alcatraz” was named one of this season’s Most Exciting New Series. Devindra Hardawar of /Film praised the show, writing, “J.J. Abrams strikes gold again.” And over at IGNMatt Fowler thought the pilot was “Good, but not great,” though he added, “there are definitely questions to keep us coming back for more.”

Below, series star Sam Neill welcomes you to “Alcatraz” in the Fox trailer.

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