A prime-time sci-fi series that takes itself very seriously is a big risk. Doesn’t matter how good the calibre of the cast is, if the premise stinks audiences will smell it a mile off. The premise is sound and Alcatraz looks good, but will it hold? We’ll see soon enough. From the press release:

From J.J. Abrams, executive producer of Lost, comes Alcatraz, the chilling new drama revolving around America’s most infamous prison, which premieres on Channel Nine on Monday, February 13, at 8.30pm.

Alcatraz, the island prison in San Francisco, was once home to the worst murderers, rapists, kidnappers, thieves and arsonists. When detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) is assigned to a grisly homicide case a fingerprint leads her to a shocking suspect: Jack Sylvane, an Alcatraz inmate who died over 30 years ago.

With her family history – both her grandfather and surrogate uncle Ray Archer (Robert Forster) were guards at Alcatraz – Madsen’s interest is immediately piqued. And when the enigmatic, knows-everything-but-tells-nothing government agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) tries to impede her investigation, she becomes doggedly committed.

Madsen turns to Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast Dr Diego “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia, Lost) to piece together a puzzling sequence of events. They discover that Sylvane is not only alive but loose on the streets of San Francisco, exacting decades-old revenge and leaving bodies in his wake. And, inexplicably, he hasn’t aged a day since 1963 when Alcatraz was ruled by the iron-fisted warden Edwin James (Jonny Coyne) and his sadistic associate E.B. Tiller (Jason Butler Harner).

Madsen and Soto reluctantly team up with Hauser and his technician, Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra, ER), to stop Sylvane’s killing spree. By delving into Alcatraz history, government cover-ups and Madsen’s own heritage, the team will ultimately discover that Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister, present-day threat. While he may be the first inmate to reappear from Alcatraz, it quickly becomes clear that Sylvane won’t be the last.

Through the course of the investigation, Madsen and Soto will learn that agent Hauser has been awaiting the return of these inmates for nearly 50 years. Soto will see his life’s work – the history of Alcatraz – come alive. And Madsen will be forced to keep her San Francisco cop fiancé Jimmy Dickens (Santiago Cabrera) away from her top-secret assignment as she sees everything she thought she knew about her family’s past shattered, while fighting to keep the United States safe from some of the most dangerous criminals in history.

Alcatraz – Mon 13/02 8:30pm, Ch9.