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“Alcatraz” is Rock-Solid Entertainment

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 08:  Actor Sam Neill sp...

Sam Neill: Looking for Inmates


The story of Alcatraz is timeless and tonight viewers learn that some of its federal prisoners beat Father Time.

Of course, time goes slowly when you’re in a maximum security prison so perhaps that’s the reason the escaped prisoners in the mysterious Fox series “Alcatraz” haven’t aged in 50 years.

The latest intriguing series from J.J. Abrams’ production company has some elements of “Lost” and some elements of “Mission Impossible.”

Tonight’s 8 p.m. opener on WUTV of two episodes is what is referred to as a premise pilot as it spends an hour explaining what the Fox promos have done in 30 seconds.

Sam Neill (“Jurassic Park”)  stars as Emerson Hauser, a former Alcatraz prison guard who heads  a secret special task force designed to capture 256 former  inmates of The Rock who somehow did the impossible and avoided being transferred after the closing of the federal prison and are on the loose causing more mayhem once they got off the mysterious island. The inmates aren’t the only ones missing. There are also 46 guards unaccounted for.

Emerson’s team responsible for the capture of inmates out for revenge is formed in the first hour tonight. They include a strong, feisty, determined and damaged female detective, Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) with her own “Rock” history, and a lovable Rock historian Doctor Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia of “Lost”). Parminder Nagra (“ER”) comes aboard in the second hour as Doctor Lucy Banerjee, who has a history with Hauser. The cast also includes Robert Forster as Rebecca’s Uncle Ray and two actors playing villainous wardens. Jason Butler Warner is Associate Tiller in the first hour and Jonny Coyne is Warden James in the less riveting second hour.

“Alcatraz” gets off to a slow start in the first hour because of all the explaining needed to be done, but once it gets going it is decent escapist and rock solid entertainment.

As in Abrams’ Lost, “Alcatraz” is set on an island, features ageless characters and includes a conspiracy (who took and controls the escapees and how are they coming back) and a mystery (why haven’t they aged?). The second episode tonight involving a sniper expands the premise without helping to solve the mystery of how all these bad guys have beaten Father Time while serving time. They are captured one at a time, which gives “Alcatraz” enough material for 12 seasons.

With some decent twists, twisted humor and a 1960s soundtrack, the time for “Alcatraz” once again is now.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4



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