DVD REVIEW: Alcatraz -The Complete Series

Since Lost finished, US producers have desperately trying to find its replacement. Alcatraz was the next in a long line. In 1964 Alcatraz closed with all the inmates and guards moving off the island to other prisons. But that was not what happened. Something occurred making the guards and prisoners reappear unaffected by time in 2012.

It is the job of FBI Agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) and Doc Soto (Jorge Garcia) to stop them before they cause too much trouble and discover why they have traveled forward.

There are many similarities to Lost when looking at the template of Alcatraz. Everything revolves around an island with a mystery. The episodes all follow a template. Each episode centres around a particular inmate or guard who has jumped forward and is committing crimes, mimicking their past endeavours in modern America. We see flashbacks to 1960 where we find out more about the character’s back-story and we slowly unravel some of the mysteries that revolve around the show. The episodes can be a little formulaic with you expecting slightly more from story telling these days. However the general premise behind the show is really quite intriguing. It will draw you in making you want to know what will happen next. Further each episode finishes with a clue towards the bigger picture giving the viewer oh my god moments every episode. This is a very effective way to make the viewer want to watch more and see what happens.

The score is impactful and adds a mood to the series. Further the pilot should be credited with being fast paced, never stopping to allow the viewer to catch their breaths. It is brilliantly directed and by the end of episode 1 we really know what the story is and what the team are trying to do. This is a breath of fresh air to see a series do this. So often do we see shows playing the long game and although this is often effective, Alcatraz doesn’t mess about and draws you in straight away.

The three main characters are all very formulaic. With Hauser we have the gritty stereotypical noir detective who has lost something and now can only see one way of doing things. He once was able to look at things differently but now he has become a man that shoots first and asks questions later. Madsen is the young up and coming officer who still knows which way her bread is buttered. She is heavily linked to Alcatraz and will do whatever she can. She eventually will help Hauser to learn more about himself, making him realise what he has become. Doc is the comic book nerd who is desperate for a girl but doesn’t think anyone would look at him due to his weight. Although these characters are typical, all three of them are interesting enough to keep you watching. Neill plays Hauser brilliantly, making you want to watch on to see why he has become this way.

All in all Alcatraz is a very satisfying watch until you get to the final episode. This is no fault of the series however. Once we get to the final episode we want some answers, any would be good. Unfortunately the series finishes on a cliffhanger leaving the viewer feeling cheated. Especially as the series has now been cancelled. I felt very angry that I will never know how these people managed to jump forward or why it had occurred.

The final episode gave us little glimpses but it was not enough to make any kind of judgement. An extra episode or details as to what the plot would have been would have been nice. Its cancellation is a real shame because it starts to feel like it really has something going for it and yet we are left unsatisfied, angry at the knowledge that we have no answers just mountains of questions.

The DVDs themselves have a couple of extra features and deleted scenes to add more to the show. The picture quality is top-notch.

Alcatraz is a thoroughly enjoyable TV series with enough twists and turns to keep you interested. The format and the characters are slightly formulaic but the main plot will do enough to keep you hooked. Unfortunately you will leave feeling angered that it got cancelled as you are left with no explanations whatsoever, making it seem like the thirteen hours you spent getting to know the plot and the characters led you down a rabbit hole with no return.

Rating: 4/5
Reporter: Luke Halsall

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