'Alcatraz: The Complete Series'
(Sam Neill, Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Jonny Coyne, Parminder Nagra, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2012 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Alcatraz closed decades ago, but trouble still seems to resurface around the penitentiary for San Francisco Detective Madsen, Alcatraz expert “Doc” Soto and the mysterious agent Emerson Hauser. 'Alcatraz: The Complete Series' features brand-new extras including a behind-the-scenes featurette, unaired scenes, a gag reel and all 13 episodes of the thrilling series.
DVD Verdict: It starts off like any other new Fox TV show, some out and out shock value, a little info, and then a big 'this is what realy happened' scenario, but then 'Alcatraz' stays, well, on the grey line! Filmed in a continual grey film element, save for the bright white underground new version of the jail, even in just a few episodes of this now-cancelled show you can sense that there was always going to be a bigger game afoot.
Produced by J. J. Abrams and Bad Robot Productions, 'Alcatraz' originally premiered on Fox in January of 2012 as a mid-season replacement. Switching between eras in a neat rolling cell bars move, the series (as you would expect from the time) focuses on the Alcatraz prison, which was allegedly shut down in 1963 due to unsafe conditions for its prisoners and guards.
The show's premise is that both the prisoners and the guards disappeared in 1963 and have abruptly reappeared in modern-day San Francisco, where they are being tracked down by a government agency. Staring Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill and Parminder Nagra (albeit her role in the show after episode two was as a coma patient) sadly, as noted above already, the show was cancelled in May of this year.
In episode one, the 'Pilot,' we are shown a 1963 flashback of events that bring us up to pace of the show nearly immediately. Alcatraz, upon the arrival of the local SFPD and theirprisoner boat arrival one night, is now a ghost town. One of those local officers is a young as Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill). We then flashforward to present day and quickly discover that Homicide Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) has lost her partner in a chase to a mystery subject.
Worse then that, one of the missing 256 inmates and 46 guards (known in the series as the "63's") is back (still looking as youthful as ever, even though 50 years has passed) and killing people. Robert Forster again stars on TV as a bar-owning relative to a young female cop - this time as Raymond Archer (aka Ray Madsen), Rebecca's great-uncle and former Alcatraz prison guard.
Each episode afterwards is then named after the escaped convict they are to hunt down. And so, 'Ernest Cobb' is next. A serial sniper he shoots people in threes and also puts as Dr. Lucille "Lucy" Banerjee (Parminder Nagra) into a coma with a bullet to the chest. In 'Kit Nelson,' a child killer is at large now, but does Madsen's new "partner" Dr. Diego "Doc" Soto (Jorge Garcia) - a man with a PhD in both Criminal Justice and Civil War History and author of four books on Alcatraz - have his own big secret to hide?
In 'Cal Sweeney,' a bank robber; or in this case, safety deposit box robber is back and in search of a blue saphire necklace. In 'Guy Hasting,' a training officer Guard is next to show up in the present day. In search of Tommy Madsen, Rebecca's grandfather and another timetraveling convict, he also hunts down Ray. In Paxton Petty,' a bomber is out there now and come the end a good friend to the team dies in the course of duty.
In the seventh episode, 'Johnny McKee,' a poisoner is here now and sets out to kill as many protagonists as possible. This episode was the best, to my mind as it had both a great flashback unexpected death scene in prison and a "fun" swimming pool shot in the present! In 'The Ames Brothers,' two fraternal brothers with a plan to steal gold are back; plus another guard. In 'Sonny Burnett,' "Shotgun" is a kidnapper and takes a hostage with a tale to tell about his own past.
In 'Clarence Montgomery,' a black man wrongly accused of murder back in the day sadly gets his hands bloodied in the present. And in 'Webb Porter,' an ex-con with ear trouble known as tinnitus is here to carry on his murderous spree. In 'Garrett Stillman,' Dr. Banerjee is finally out of her coma - due to some genetically engineered blood - and Stillman, and armored truck robber is back. In the what-was-to-be final episode, 'Tommy Madsen,' Jones lays bleeding in the street and we flashback 36 hours to find out why. Tommy has kidnapped a woman, a third key is found, and used to unlock the secret door, more of the plot is revealed, and Jones is now in hospital - hooked up to tubes to keep her alive!
Yeah, I know, totally unsatisfying, but it got cancelled so what else do you want from me?! A few things to quickly point out are 1) Jonny Coyne as Edwin James, the warden of Alcatraz was well acted, but a demented Bob Hoskins is all I could ever see; 2) It was starting to get very 'Lost' there for a while; and 3) The special feature that says that it includes interviews with real life prison guards is a 100% lie! It's nothing more than a 10 minute behind-the-scenes featurette, sorry! This is a Widescreen Presentation 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Alcatraz:Island of Intrique - Informational and Behind-the-Scenes Featurette