Alcatraz Review

I watched the series premier of Alcatraz tonight and I kept waiting for Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage to show up but apparently this movie has no connection to the 1996 Michael Bay classic.

But that’s okay because the Alcatraz we got served tonight isn’t half bad. Sure it had a couple of goofy moments and lines came off corny every so often but for the most part it was an exciting introduction to this new show from Geek King, JJ Abrams.

I am not going to unravel the mysteries of the show or spend a lot of time writing on it because I only watched the episodes (it was two one-hour episodes back-to-back) once, so there may be things I missed. I just wanted to get a couple of quick thoughts on paper and let people know if it is worth their time. There might be some minor spoilers ahead but nothing to ruin the show.

Quickly, right up front, I am just going to say it, the death of Sarah Jones’ partner is lame. It was no surprise that he was going to die, because it was the start of the episode, they were running on the docks, and apparently for any cop to ever move to the FBI, their partner must die (hello Fringe). But the ledge he fell from, at least to me, looked like he fell maybe 30 feet but his scream sounds like he fell into the Grand Canyon. As Maroni told Batman in the Dark Knight, “a fall from this height isn’t going to kill me”. But it did kill her partner. The show does later adds a nice to twist to the scene but nothing to solve the problem of his 30 foot death.

Secondly, my only other beef with the show is the “Welcome to Alcatraz” line that is thrown around any time anyone comes on the Rock. In the 60’s, in current day, in secret basement rooms, off the tour boat, this line was said with the most drama imaginable, like the person just landed on the moon. Now this is really a minor gripe because overall, I thought the show was nicely paced and the characters seem very likable, but it did bother me.

I appreciate that Sarah Jones’ character Rebecca Madsen didn’t come off to cold and uncaring. It seems that female FBI agents are often portrayed as women with no sense of humor so it was nice to the relationship between her and Hurley… oh I am sorry, Doc. I joke but Jorge Garcia is a sold addition to the cast, though I doubt if he would actually be allowed to join the FBI on such a top secret investigation but I’ll let it slide. The way he meets Madsen is a little stretched but again, I can let it slide. Finally, we round our team off with Sam Neill of Jurassic Park fame. He came off a little overly dramatic at times but for the most part, I enjoyed his character and the secrets he keeps. Which personally, I wonder how much more he really knows about this investigation, because it doesn’t seem like much.

While this poster may suggest a connection, a keen advertiser will note that it is in fact just clever marketing.

Lost fans will be disappointed because this is not the same island they’ve come to know and love. This show is clearly meant to attract them but not at the risk of losing more casual fans. I’ve said it since I first heard of this show, it reminds me more of Fringe than Lost. Not that that’s a bad thing, Fringe is a great show but if you are looking for something you can delve into with a passion of Lost, I don’t know if you’ll find as much of that here. Though, I did see little connections in the two episodes but it’s not quite to Lost standard… yet.

I picked the show apart a little but I really did enjoy it. While, I don’t want the mythology of the show to overwhelm, I also hope they don’t leave it off to the side completely. We want new viewers to be able to come in but I also want to find a reason to care for this show above a show like CSI. This show needs to be more than a “villain of the week” but I am fine if they use that has a starting template.

So far things look good and  I’ll keep tuning in for now. My one suggestion: Let’s just drop the “Welcome to Alcatraz” bit, we get it.

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