” The Rock ” has been an obsession of mine for years. I loved the 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood as Frank Morris, based on a true story, but no show or film has really come close to that for me. My entertainment bar when it comes to the worlds most famous prison is set very high. So it is with great excitement that I having been awaiting the latest attempt, Alcatraz, shown hear in the U.K. on channel Watch.
Robert Kennedy when he was Attorney General, ordered Alcatraz closed on the 21st of March 1963 due to rising costs and poor maintenence. This is where the show kicks in. Produced by J.J. Abrams Bad Robot Productions, the states that this in fact was a cover up due to all prisoners and guards disappearing. Back in the present day San Francisco Detective Rebecca Madsen, has just lost her partner during the attempted arrest of a criminal and during her next assignment she stumbles across a secret. The murder investigation of E.B. Tilley gets taken over by a mysterious Federal Agent, but not before she hides a vital piece of evidence and carries out her own investigation.
A fingerprint belonging to a dead prisoner from Alcatraz appears, and this leads her to Dr. Diego Soto. Now normally in T.V. shows experts of this kind are played by old, smart looking professor types, so it was really refreshing to see the character played as someone I could relate to, a geeky fan boy, just with a lot more knowledge than I posses.
The steps between the present day and the 1960’s flashbacks are incredibly easy to follow which is just as well as there is many.
Prisoner 2024 Jack Sylvane is the first one being chased and the story takes you from his unlucky incarceration, which leaves you feeling sorry for him, to the fact he murdered a man called Barclay Flynn and took a key on behalf of someone else. Mysterious prisoner 2002 turns out to be Rebecca’s grandfather and also the man who had killed her partner.
The show is stunningly set in the Alcatraz backdrop, with historical tit-bits and subtle humour throughout. Sam Niell ( Jurassic Park ) is excellently cast as the mysterious Emerson Hauser, Detective Rebecca Madsen played by Sarah Jones ( Sons of Anarchy ) and Dr Diego Soto performed brilliantly by Jorge Garcia ( Lost )have extraordinary chemistry on screen which keeps your mind away from the unrealistic storyline. Don’t get me wrong that’s not a critisicm, this is excellent popcorn entertainment if watched as just that and not as an historical fact driven show.
The last quarter of the show does nothing to answer any questions in fact it leaves you with more. What happened to the 63’s? How much does Hauser actually know? Who was Sylvane working for? Where had he been? Who built the modern Alcatraz buried in the woods?
I hope the show lives up to the potential the first episode has shown the promise of.