Pilot screening for new J.J. Abrams series

This week, the major television networks screened pilots with test audiences to help them choose their fall line-up. Two of the pilot episodes were for new J.J. Abrams projects.

Deadline has published an annotated list of all of the pilots that were screened yesterday. Of particular interest are Alcatraz and Person of Interest.

Not too much is really known about Fox’s Alcatraz at this point.

We know that Sam Neill is in there somewhere, likely as a secondary character, and we have a basic idea of the plot: Fifty years ago twenty men, prisoners and guards, mysteriously vanished from Alcatraz Prison.

Today, a police detective and a geeky Alcatraz expert work together to discover what happened to those men, and to figure out why they have begun reappearing, having not aged a day since their disappearance. 

It sounds very 4400esque, but limiting themselves to essentially 20 mysteries will run them out of material very quickly if they plan on doing it ‘monster of the week’ style, which means that they will likely focus on a the politics and flashbacks of the group, building the mystery with each episode. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s all very similar to Lost.

CBS’s Person of Interest is the one that I’m personally very excited about. The plot centers around an assumed dead government agent, who is tapped by an eccentric millionaire to help fight crime using a technology which allows him to know about crimes before they happen. 

If this is done right, it could be a very compelling show, but I’m a sucker for stories about paradox, time-travel, and prescience, and this show is required to deal with at least one of those themes if not all three.

Unfortunately both pilots seemed to get a lukewarm reaction, but almost all sci-fi pilots do. Hopefully, at least one of them makes it onto our televisions this fall.