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TV Series Review

"On March 21, 1963, Alcatraz officially closed. All the prisoners were transferred off the island. Only that's not what happened. Not at all."

That's what actor Sam Neill solemnly says in commercials and during the opening of Fox's Alcatraz.

So what, exactly, did happen?

If creator J.J. Abrams has his way, we might not know for several seasons.

Abrams, the man behind ABC's landmark serial Lost, has something perhaps even stranger on his hands with Alcatraz—a mash-up of an episodic police procedural and a serialized sci-fi time-bender.

The prison's last residents (more than 300) apparently just … disappeared—not through tunnels painstakingly dug with fingernail clippings, or on handy-dandy escape boats found mysteriously anchored on the shoreline. No, the prisoners just vanished—a public relations disaster for law enforcement if ever there was one. No wonder the concocted story that the inmates were transferred became the official record. The government simply couldn't tell people that the country's most notorious criminals up and—well, left somehow.

But now they're reappearing, and they're not just loitering in their old cells, waving to the tourists. These hardened convicts haven't aged a day in 50 years; they're still in their law-breaking prime, and they pick up right where they left off before they were arrested.

Who's going to round the baddies up? Fox Mulder and Dana Scully would be naturals for this sort of thing, but they've not been seen on the network for years. So the job falls to FBI agent Emerson Hauser (played by Neill), who was at the Alcatraz docks when the criminals vanished and has been secretly preparing for them to return ever since. He's joined by Rebecca Madsen, a rough-and-tumble homicide detective, and Diego "Doc" Soto, noted author, Alcatraz expert, lovable geek … and refugee from Lost.

Their adventures in time and prison space are dark ones. They bravely battle against some truly horrible people. And grim violence here is a given. Nightmares are optional, but certainly possible.

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Episode Reviews

Alcatraz: 1232012



Readability Age Range



Sarah Jones as Detective Rebecca Madsen; Jorge Garcia as Diego 'Doc' Soto; Sam Neill as Emerson Hauser; Jonny Coyne as Warden Edwin James; Jason Butler Harner as Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller; Parminder Nagra as Lucy Banerjee






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Paul Asay

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