Archive for Monday, January 16, 2012

Cops, ghosts mingle on ‘Alcatraz’ and ‘Lost Girl’

January 16, 2012

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So there’s this island where strange things happen and people who should be very old or dead show up unchanged nearly half a century later. And there’s an underground lair filled with computers that may or may not be the source of the weirdness. And it stars Jorge Garcia, and it’s created by J.J. Abrams. Only Garcia’s character is no Hurley and “Alcatraz” (7 p.m., Fox) is no “Lost.”

Before the credits even roll, we learn that the very night Alcatraz prison was supposed to close in 1963, more than 300 inmates and guards simply vanished. Fast-forward to the present day and the residents are returning unchanged. And they’re Rip Van Grumpy!

Hot on the mystery is Det. Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), a fetching young policewoman. She enlists shaggy Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego Soto (Garcia) as her sidekick. He’s written four books on “The Rock” and likes to play video games with teenagers. Like Hurley, he has a habit of making oddball commentary on the action, but these asides don’t seem as fresh coming from a guy with so many advanced degrees. Mystery man Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) is first seen thwarting Madsen in her search, and then recruiting her. Needless to say they all have personal connections to the penitentiary. And as on “Lost,” the island itself has them in its clutches.

On “Lost,” both the audience and the characters seemed joined in confusion and mystery, saying, “What the heck is going on?” at roughly the same moments. Here, the police- procedural aspect of the story sort of takes half the fun away.

• The imported Canadian series “Lost Girl” (9 p.m., Syfy) also mixes police work with the supernatural. Poor Bo (Anna Silk) has quite a problem. She’s a shapely thing and eye candy for the lads, but she keeps waking up with dead boyfriends. She just doesn’t know that she’s a Succubus, a powerful folk heroine capable of inhaling the life force of those near and dear.

Early on in the pilot, she uses her special power to protect Kenzi (Ksenia Solo), a waif-like pickpocket, from a violent cad who just slipped her a date rape pill. The discovery of that creep’s dead body sets off alarms at the police department, but also among members of the folk-fairy demimonde known as the Fae.

After a crackling start, “Girl” gets a tad dull and contrived when Bo has to contend with the Fae and their arcane rivalries, rituals and hierarchy. It’s a little like “Twilight” that way.

l Stars gather for “Betty White’s 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America’s Golden Girl” (7 p.m., NBC). A preview of White’s candid-camera series “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” (8:30 p.m.) follows. Hallmark commemorates the day with an 11-hour “Golden Girls” (2 p.m.) marathon.

Tonight’s other highlights

• First lady Michelle Obama appears on “iCarly” (6:30 p.m., Nickelodeon) to hail the service of military families and discuss their special needs.

• Shocking news about White on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Death in the motor pool on “Castle” (9 p.m., ABC).

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