6 Things to Know About J.J. Abrams' Alcatraz - Including How It Is (And Isn't) Like Lost

Will the jailhouse rock? We’ll find out when Fox’s Alcatraz — the newest series in J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot collection — debuts this Monday at 8/7c (before moving to its regular 9 pm time slot next week). Certainly, the drama, which mixes the procedural with the mythological, has a captivating premise: A crackerjack team races against time to recapture a bunch of mysteriously reappearing inmates from another time altogether — 1963, to be exact.

During a Vancouver set visit arranged by Warner Bros. TV, TVLine got the scoop on the premiere (and beyond!) from the show’s stars and executive producer.

Hot Video: J.J. Abrams Invites You to Alcatraz

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE | Rather than trying to solve a crime, the trio at the center of the show – Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia) and enigmatic G-man Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) – are on a manhunt. And they have to find these bad guys quickly, because they’re “resurfacing in present day and still committing their heinous crimes,” describes Garcia. Moreover, the team has plenty of “unanswered questions,” he continues. “How come this is happening [at all]? Because there’s this very odd tear in the fabric of what we think is reality, to have people suddenly resurface after disappearing and having [them] not aged at all.”

THIS IS NOT LOST | The prisoners of Alcatraz may be (cough) lost in time somewhere, but the show is not like Abrams’ island drama. “It’s nice that there’s people from Bad Robot that are so hands-on in this production, because that really brings the quality of the show to another level,” says Jones. “[But] this is a different show entirely.” For starters, viewers can jump in any time and enjoy the stand-alone episodes, as each week, a new villain takes center stage. Another way the series differs from the ABC drama? “I wear a lot more clothes,” jokes Lost alum Garcia.

THE BADDIES ARE REALLY GOOD | You’re usually not supposed to like the criminals, but executive producer Jack Bender believes the show’s antagonists will be exceptions to the rule. “The killers that our writing team [is] coming up with are going to be complex and equally haunted and haunting,” he says. “Ideally, after we’ve done a season of this show, [everybody] should have their favorite killer. Almost like they were on baseball cards.”

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THINGS GET PERSONAL | For the serious-minded Rebecca, the quest for answers is driven by one thing: Her grandfather has a connection to the famous prison. “The closer she gets to solving these crimes, regardless of if she believes them or not, the closer she gets to her grandfather,” previews Jones. “The closer she gets to her past and unlocking some things in her family history and trying to figure out who she is.” Meanwhile, an upcoming episode will reveal “a traumatic experience” in Doc’s past, which sheds light on “where his original obsession with criminology may have begun,” teases Garcia.

Winter TV First Impression: J.J. Abrams Once Again Has Island Fever, With Fox’s Alcatraz

THERE WILL BE A LAUGH OR TWO | When the drama gets too dark and heavy, you can count on Garcia for a much-needed dose of comic relief. His Doc may be an Alcatraz know-it-all, but “he had no idea what he was getting involved in, so the way he handles things, to me, it brings a lightness,” says Jones. But while there’s “a little bit of Hurley” in Garcia’s performance, “you accept him as a totally different guy,” promises Bender. “He’s doing a brilliant job acting in this.”

YES, YOU WILL FIND ONE LOST REFERENCE | The Once Upon a Time pilot doesn’t have the monopoly on Lost nods, so look for “a great one,” hints Garcia, “on the back of the book.”