Review: “Alcatraz” – I’m not impressed…yet.

I think there’s nothing worse than looking forward to a new show too much. You read about the show through its development phases, follow who gets cast as leading characters, mark your calendar when the network announces the premiere date, all because you can’t wait for this new show to premiere and finally see the final product. Then when you do see it, it fails to the standard that you set for it in your head. That happened to me with Fox’s newest drama Alcatraz.

I’m not saying that I didn’t like Alcatraz,it just wasnt what I expected. From the way Fox built this show up through press releases and promos, I thought this was going to be the next Lost, routed with deep, mysterious questions and each turn, not knowing where the pilot was going to end up. Alcatraz wasnt like that at all.

J.J. Abrams knows how to produce a great series. The man behind Alias, Lost, Fringe, and Person of Interest produces a great show here, but it could be better. I wasn’t expecting there to be such a high element of police procedural in this show. Right from the beginning I knew by the end of the pilot that San Francisco Homicide Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) was going to end up working for FBI agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), who originally resisted Det. Madsen from working on the case of the death of former Alcatraz warden E.B. Tiller (Jason Butler Harner). As the pilot advanced, more and more clues lead Det. Madsen, FBI agent Hauser, and Madsen’s de facto partner Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia) – an Alcatraz expert and historian, to find the man behind E.B. Tiller’s death, Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce), a man who was presumed dead, but hasn’t aged in 50 years.

"Alcatraz" stars Garcia, Jones, and Neill

To my surprise, Sylvane was captured at the end of the first episode for the death of Warden Tiller, something that I thought would be drawn out a couple of episodes or the whole season. Although, the series isn’t about capturing Sylvane, it’s about the prisoners and guards who mysteriously vanished into thin air on March 21st, 1963 from Alcratraz. Even though that’s what the show is about, we got little to know information about that in the pilot, and that’s what my main problem is. Yes, its obvious that Sylvane has something to do with the disappearance of everyone (and FBI agent Hauser had something to do with it also, which was the one thing that I didn’t expect), but since Sylvane is captured, will we learn more?

I have seen episode 2 or 3 yet, but I plan to watch soon (and post a follow-up review as soon as I see it). I still don’t think Alcatraz will be the show that I, and many other viewers want or expected. Alcatraz is simply a show that adds a little sci-fi element to a police procedural drama, not a show that will keep you on the edge of your seats, deep with mystery, head scratching, and the occasional “WTF!”

Alcatraz is one of those shows where the idea is better than the final product. Great producer, premise, stars, and potential; but something is still missing. Hopefully I find that thing I’m looking for in the next two episodes.

Alcatraz airs Mondays at 9p.m. on Fox.

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