You needed to watch the series to understand the series. Indeed, much of the beginning of the first season was in "incident of the week" format, but it set up the character development and introduced many of the concepts (the Observer, for instance) for use later. In fact, the first incident turned out to be a foreshadowing of something we see with regularity in the alternate universe.
Never judge a J. J. Abrams project by a couple shows of the first season. This guy knows how to build a story. If you do jump to conclusions this easily, you might have thought "Lost" was just going to be a 21st century Swiss Family Robinson. That "Babylon 5" was just Star Trek at the United Nations. That "Caprica" was going to be one jumbled mismash of disjointed story lines.
OK, that last one may have been right, actually.
"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder