Alcatraz Alcatraz

J.J. Abrams is heading back to an island, just not the island.

"In theory, any land mass is an island, so you could argue that every show ever made [is like Lost]," Abrams told reporters at the winter TV previews. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show was much like Lost!"

That said, the man who brought ABC's island mystery to life has set his sights on another land mass for Fox's Alcatraz.

Alcatraz focuses on a day in 1963 at the notorious San Francisco prison when more than 300 guards and prisoners vanished into thin air. In each episode, one of these hardened criminals, dubbed "the '63s," will reappear in 2012 without having aged. San Francisco cop Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), Dr. Diego Soto (Lost alum Jorge Garcia) — who literally wrote the book on The Rock — federal agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) and his mysterious associate Lucy (Parminder Nagra) team up to find them before they can enact their anachronistic justice.

Exclusive: Eric Johnson, Michael Eklund head to Alcatraz

Eventually, the show will endeavor to explain how the '63s disappeared and why they've returned. But Abrams says he has learned his lesson from his previous serialized, mythological series — Alias, Lost and Fringe — not to keep audiences waiting for answers. "You can't expect audiences to sit there asking fundamental questions for years," he says. "It's unfair and it's wrong. We are going to make sure people aren't necessarily banging their heads against the wall, but if we answer everything at the end of Season 1, that's never a good thing for any show."

The two-hour series premiere is on Monday, Jan. 16 at 8/7c on Fox. Will you tune in? Hit the comments with your thoughts below.