Alcatraz is the story of time traveling murders and the people who want to catch them before they kill again. It’s a good show on many levels, the actors are great, the production values are high, and who doesn’t long for a glimpse of the good old days of prison life in the early 1960s?
The problem with all new Sci Fi shows is that the Sci Fi fan base has a very long memory and it’s all but impossible to come up with something completely new. Alcatraz has the look and feel of Fringe, The X-Files, Prison Break, LOST, The Pretender, and just about every other Sci Fi show with something mysterious going on and random people wandering around trying to figure it all out. There was even a strong feeling of The Matrix as the opening chase scene had our hero jumping between rooftops. But that should be OK, we all like Fringe, et el, right?
House is a great show, but it has lost a lot of it’s appeal because we can all see the formula that the writers use. We open with someone getting ill, House says they are boring, but then takes the case, he nearly kills them before each commercial break, and finally saves them with a sudden flash of intuition at the end.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
And so it is with Alcatraz, the show’s formula is clearly on display in the first two episodes. Bad guy shows up, kills people, good guys catch bad guy and put him in secret prison. Of course, they may get away from the Murder of The Week formula as the show progresses, after all, they are going to be bringing back Guards at some point as well.
Alcatraz was a tad on the violent side, with lots of blood spatter and lots of random killings of strangers we had no real reason to care about. We even get the feeling that our hero Doc Hurley is a little too soft for being upset at the sight of so much carnage, while our other heroes calmly wander among the blood soaked bodies. Except for Jorge Garcia’s character, most of the people we meet are pretty cold blooded and often downright nasty. Sam Neill is not a nice guy at all.
I’ll keep watching Alcatraz and hope that J.J. Abram actually has something to do with the show, other than letting it use the Bad Robot logo.