Alcatraz: Review: Season 1 Ep 3-7

Fox, 23 January-20 February 2012

As Soto (Jorge Garcia) and Madsen (Sarah Jones) settle into their roles tracking down Alcatraz’s returning prisoners, the mysteries continue to multiple…

The echoes from Lost are self-evident: this is a show built around an island, featuring material from different time zones and even having a major location hidden under a hatch in the ground. However, Alcatraz is a very different beast, if one possibly fatally trapped by its own formula.

Little bits of info revealed through this batch of episodes gives the series the feel of being made up as it’s going along. Worst was when Madsen’s seeming guardian (Robert Foster) is suddenly revealed to be her uncle and hence the brother of one of the returned prisoners. Putting Parminder Nagra’s Dr Banerjee into a coma and having her turn up in the past (under a different name, so is she the same person?), alongside a younger Hauser (Sam Neill) just seems daft and will need a stunning pay off to make it work. Similarly, Dr Beauregard seems unchanged in the modern day and the past: what’s going on there?

Of the actual episodes, ‘Kit Nelson’ plays like a lost episode of the late-1990s thriller series Millennium in its dark atmosphere, but the following episodes lost that momentum playing out as almost interchangeable narratives. The only real twist was in having the returning character in ‘Guy Hastings’ being a guard, rather than an inmate.

It’s all very slickly produced and Sarah Jones is a very watchable lead, but the compounding of little mysteries and the relentless formulaic nature of the episodes may combine in a negative way and put off viewers wary of committing to another possibly long-running weird series after the dismal end of Lost.

Verdict: There’s a lot of treading water going on in Alcatraz, and a certain amount of formulaic episodic repetition, but it is still entertaining stuff.

Episode 3 ‘Kit Nelson’: 8/10

Episode 4 ‘Cal Sweeney’: 6/10

Episode 5 ‘Guy Hastings’: 6/10

Episode 6 ‘Paxton Petty’: 5/10

Episode 7 ‘Johnny McKee’: 5/10

Brian J. Robb


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