San Francisco, present day. A homicide investigation puts Detective Rebecca Madsen on the trail of a killer who is also being hunted by the FBI. The only trouble is this killer was incarcerated inAlcatraz, back in 1963. Who is he, why is here and how do the FBI know about it?

I’m two episodes in andAlcatrazfeels like a blend of recent high-end American TV shows. Split between 1963 and present day, Alcatraz is stylistically the same as Lost and shares a lot of characteristics – the story hook (why are people in a time or place they shouldn’t be) the split timeline, the look, Jorge Garcia (channelling Hurley but adding a greater degree of intellect), the producers, Michael Giacchino (instead of a deep whoosh for transitions between present and past a la Lost, now we have the clanking of a prison door for the same effect) and even the first inmate looks like Matthew Fox. Cross this with Fringe with the inmates doubling as monster-of-the-week and that’s where we are.

Sam Neill is here, as the FBI agent in charge who may have a grudge, but he is always good value. Otherwise there is nothing to make Alcatraz stand above recent TV fare, nothing that is radically different that has left me eagerly anticipating the next episode. I’ll give it 6 episodes and see what happens from there but currently it feels too similar to other shows to get me to make the investment required to watch a show like this.

If you like this then maybe try:

Lost (JJ Abrams original cross time behemoth), Fringe (there is a conspiracy, there are parallel worlds, a solo female lead detective trying to piece it all together), Prison Break (if you like prison drama through a mainstream American lens, this is the one for you)