Hello g33ks, m33ks and anyone else that enjoys watching Sam Neill run around on an island chewing the hell out of the scenery. This is a review of Fox’s highly hyped and most anticipated midseason show, Alcatraz. A JJ Abrams produced scifi-ish/mystery based around an island, utilizing flashbacks and starring Jorge Garcia; make it extremely easy to make the LOST comparisons. The thing is it might be exactly the comparison Fox wants for this show. Most of these LOST-type shows run from it but why not embrace that legacy, especially when hiding from the label has only hurt the other series. Can this show succeed where Heroes, V, The Nine, Day One, The Event, Invasion, Day Break, Jericho, The 4400, Flash Forward, and Persons Unknown all failed?
Alcatraz has an intriguing premise at its core. On the night that Alcatraz Island “officially” closed in 1963 due to rising operational costs every prisoner was transferred off the island. That story is a lie. In truth, over 260 prisoners and 40 guards disappeared at the same time, without a trace. The criminals are now appearing in modern day San Francisco, armed with personal vendettas, modern day equipment and (seemingly) missions from whoever took them. San Francisco Detective Rebecca Madsen and her partner are chasing a suspect across the rooftops. The unknown fugitive pushes Madsen’s partner from the roof allowing himself to escape while she attempts a rescue. After her colleague’s death she spends several months partner free until the homicide of a former deputy warden of Alcatraz crosses her desk. This sets her off into an investigation involving the fingerprint of a supposedly long dead inmate Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce), a curmudgeonly FBI Agent named Hauser (Sam Neill) and a comic book writing Alcatraz historian Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia). Madsen and Soto become a team, with Hauser calling the shots to track down Sylvane.
This should not have to be said but the fact that the detective on the series is actually a detective is refreshing. There isn’t a lot to know about Rebecca except that she’s smart and driven but the method in which she works out the team’s second case is interesting. Soto is a useful character and Jorge Garcia is once again working to make himself a fan favorite on this series as well. Sam Neill as Hauser is all over the scenery like it’s Big League Chew and is doing everything he can to make himself look like he’s in charge of the ‘X’ division in the 90s. Rounding out the main team is Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra) a technical agent for the group, her place in the show is very reserved for the majority of the first two episodes but from developments in episode 2 we can see that even she has a complex history regarding the strange circumstances the team finds itself in.
For something that has only aired 2 hours an impressive number of questions have already arisen.
- Where did the prisoners and guards go?
- Who is responsible for taking them?
- Where does Hauser’s information come from?
- How are these men outfitted with money and a workable knowledge of the present day?
- Will we see the guards return as well as the prisoners?
- Can we assume that when any guards return that they would have benevolent motivations?
I was impressed with the first episode and found myself enjoying the second but also thinking that the show would not have been hurt by having just a single hour premiere. This show is a police procedural with a lot going on in the background. Think Person of Interest with a larger focus on the mythology behind the show. They have created a decent show here that just might have earned a space on my DVR.
Did you watch the show? What did you think? Are you interested in getting involved in a show like this? Is it too similar to Lost? What did you think of the reveals at the end of each episode?
Let me know in the comments.
– Mr. Khon