23. Alcatraz (Fox)
Stars: Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill, Parminder Nagra, Jonny Coyne, Robert Forster
There was a great show lurking somewhere within the confined walls of Alcatraz, one that could have wowed viewers with a combined force of Lost’s puzzling mythology and Fringe’s lean, mean character work. Unfortunately, and unlike those other two J.J. Abrams-produced shows, Alcatraz went up to bat with an 0-2 count—the strikes being Sarah Jones’ unconvincing San Francisco detective character and Lost alum Jorge Garcia’s stereotypically nerdy Comic-Con regular of a doctor.
With their two weakly written leads, series creators Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, and Bryan Wynbrandt never stood a chance at drawing us into their admittedly intriguing world of time travel, supernatural mysteries, and cryptic history lessons.
The basic set-up, that of the island's infamous prisoners turning up one by one after disappearing in 1963, baited Alcatraz’s writers into spending too much time delivering a case-of-the-week program, foolishly parceling out reveals and information as a way to construct a series that’d need three or four seasons to truly congeal. The show’s cancellation, after only 13 episodes, burdened viewers with just as many questions as complaints.