‘Alcatraz’, An Episode of ‘Fringe’ I’ve Already Seen Before

Written by Guest January 22, 2012

This year has been pretty underwhelming when it comes to new TV pilots. For every terrible show like ‘The Playboy Club’, it seemed the evil TV masterminds would create a ‘Work It’ or two just to remind us that they can do so much worse. ‘Alcatraz’ was a beacon of light for me. Ever since I heard of ‘Alcatraz’ I was always intrigued by the interesting premise and inclusion of Sam Neil and Jorge Garcia. Unfortunately at the moment it seems like a typical cop procedural, but it has potential to move forward.

‘Alcatraz’ follows a ragtag group assembled by the FBI as they investigate the reappearances of Alcatraz convicts and guards who went mysteriously missing back in 1963. In the lead is Rebecca Madsen, the tough female cop, who is given very hammy dialog to work with and is magically able to jump to the correct conclusions all the time. Working with her is Diego,  played by Jorge Garcia (Hurley from ‘Lost’ fame), who is an Alcatraz expert and walking encyclopaedia of specific facts. They are organized by the mysterious Emerson Hauser, played by Sam Neil, who was an investigator of the original disappearances in the prison.

Based on the two episodes aired so far and the following episode titles announced, each episode follows the group as they try to stop a criminal from wrecking havoc in San Francisco as they slowly try to unravel their mysterious reappearances. I do like how the underlying mystery is given a fair amount of deserved focus to keep the more curious viewers drawn in. The show however seems way more focused on the procedural aspects at this point.

There's a file, men in suits, in a locker room. Procedural

The team members all appear to be super geniuses (one of my least favourite television clichés) who are able to instantly know exactly what they are dealing with. A scene in the second hour of the premiere has Rebecca and Diego walk onto a crime scene and instantly be able to connect the crime to an Alcatraz prisoner before Diego confirms that a killer had that similar MO. Logic leaps aside, the show always moves at a brisk pace that will keep you hooked for the entire hour, even if a lot of the creative choices cause you to scratch your head.

‘Alcatraz’ airs on Fox and is produced by Elizabeth Sarnoff (creator as well), JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk and Jack Bender. All of them as well as series composer Michael Giacchino were involved with ‘Lost’. Abrams, Burk and Giacchino are all involved with ‘Fringe’ as well. The show gives off a huge early-‘Fringe’ vibe due to its very similar use of character archetypes and the show’s tone. It’s more of a cop drama with some mysterious things going on in the background than something that feels unique. It could very easily pull a ‘Fringe’ and take these concepts and turn them into something very cool. The show isn’t quite yet there though.

Do not go into ‘Alcatraz’ expecting it to be a new ‘Lost’ or ‘Fringe,’ despite the names that are attached to the production. Currently it does not have the intelligent writing, interesting dialog, or intriguing characters that the other shows have. Shows like this do take a while to find their ground and at some point ‘Alcatraz’ may become an amazing cult program like the other JJ Abrams productions. Right now though, it is a little bit too heavy on the procedural aspect, which will allow new viewers to pop in every now and again but prevent it from becoming a rewarding investment that it could be.

My Rating: 6/10


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