We were excited for this show because of its former LOST star, J.J. Abrams pedigree, writers, and return to an island, but we kind of hated the idea of the premise. The FBI hires a female detective and a scholar to track down Alcatraz prisoners who disappeared in the 60s and are turning up now, having not aged a day. This premise has all the makings of a crime procedural, and we don’t need more of those. We already have the new Person of Interest for our procedural with a sci-fi twist needs. They have a LOST alum too (and a better one, in our opinions). There’s also Fringe, a show that is similar to Alcatraz. It even feels similar.
However, the pacing of Alcatraz is more viewer-friendly, which is a blessing. The pilot and second episodes were good starts. We wonder if the weekly cases can stay interesting and if there will be enough overarching plotline to keep the blogger who hates procedurals. If you’ve been paying attention, you will know that blogger is Ern. This show is everything we expected, which is good because our expectations were high.
The show isn’t perfect or particularly original yet, but there is vast potential. We think it’s one to watch. There were two episodes with two criminals driving the plot of each hour. The first episode featured a criminal who was a little sympathetic and decent looking. This was a good idea for the first criminal, in order to hook us. This man, Jack Sylvane, was imprisoned federally for robbing a grocery store (because it doubled as a post office) in order to feed his family after serving in the military oversees. Jack’s wife, whom he loved dearly, divorced him and married his brother. Harsh.
The Deputy Warden was arbitrarily and unnecessarily cruel to Jack, putting Jack in solitary confinement on visiting day. This criminal will probably recur more in the future, because he did in the second episode where Hauser tried to get information out of him. Another good thing is that both criminals so far had a back story, distinct killing methods and motives, and different personalities. The more unique and interesting the weekly murderers are, the better the cases will be. The second criminal, Cobb, was all creepy and weird with his picnic breakfasts, penchant for dining alone, OCD, and mad shooting skills.
The criminals don’t seem confused as to what they are doing in the future. Jack Sylvane also killed a man seemingly on orders, because Jack had no beef with this man. Jack also killed the (now very old) former Deputy Warden who tormented him. It looks like these criminals were saved for a purpose by some greater power and the FBI wants to find out who and what that power is.
We liked the cute-as-a-button heroine, Detective Rebecca Madsen, and hope her character soon gets developed more. Her partner was recently killed, and she realized that he was killed by her grandfather, another escaped/reappearing inmate. We hope Hurley…excuse us… DOCTOR Hurley gets more to do and has a personality beyond “nerd.” His name in this show is Diego Soto, but you can’t expect us to remember that at all times, since he will always be Hurley to us. Forever.
We like the sinister ally in the FBI’s Emerson Hauser. He strikes us as a little too happy to be imprisoning people. Hauser has a facility in the woods, hidden, that is modeled after Alcatraz where he is storing the prisoners once he recaptures them. Hauser was a guard at Alcatraz when he was younger and saw the prison on the night everyone, guards and prisoners alike, disappeared. Hauser has aged, so we know he didn’t disappear. Hauser works with a doctor named Lucy (the girl from Bend it Like Beckham!!). In a flashback, we saw Lucy, looking the same age as she does in the present, working as Cobb’s doctor in Alcatraz.
So, as you can see, there is a lot there and it was all pretty well-executed so far. We will be tuning in next week for more mysterious festivities and we hope everyone else will too. There were good ratings for the show last night. We want it to last long enough for us to see where it goes. Much better than Undercovers, J.J.!
Pilot grade: B+
Second episode ("Ernest Cobb") grade: B