Starting off a new science fiction TV series is a tough accomplishment. When J. J. Abrams created Lost, he wouldn’t realise how much of a transformation he would cast on the TV drama landscape.
After many playings of teaser trailers and major hype of this show, the build up has been pretty big. Especially with casting NZ/Aus actor Sam Neill in the series.
In the pilot, we’re greeted by a smooth voiced Neill as the Narrator – FBI Agent Emerson Hauser, briefly setting up what could be a potential two to three season series. It’s 1963, and due to rising maintenance costs, Alcatraz is shut down. Two prison guards are sent to begin the transfer of prisoners to other areas, but upon arriving, the area is deserted. The entire island is empty. Flash forward to present day, Alcatraz is a tourist attraction (which I’ve been to) and a young girl discovers prisoner Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) in an incarceration cell. Delirious, he picks himself up and makes his way off the island, after finding unusual items in his jacket pocket. Becoming aware of his surroundings, he realises he’s in the future / present day, and sets off to do a strange mission.
We cut to Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) who has a dream about her partner dying after chasing a criminal on the run. After being sent to a crime scene, she bumps into Hauser, and upon discovering a photo frame broken containing a picture of a familiar person (Sylvane), investigates that he was a former prisoner at Alcatraz. So Madsen tracks down an expert on Alcatraz – Dr Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia), a comic book enthusiast and Alcatraz expert. Together, along with Hauser and Hauser’s assistant Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra) work their way to track down former prisoners who are re-appearing out of nowhere and gather them again, and to work out the mystery on why they disappeared.
The pilot episode jumps back and forth from past to present randomly, but is noted by credits appearing at the bottom what era you’re about to follow. With the first few episodes rotating around each prisoner, I can only see this series lasting about two to three seasons before the viewer will give up on the unravelling mystery – just like Lost, which after six seasons, all questions were not answered fully due to weaning viewership. However, it is a slow paced show, but I am sure with regular viewing and beautiful scenic views of the hilly yet inspiring San Franscisco, it could be a winner. As long as it doesn’t go too crazy.