The much hyped American show Alcatraz has been picked up by UKTV’s Watch and will be with us in March. With an all-star cast, including Jorge Garcia (Lost), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) and UK actress Parminder Nagra (ER), Alcatraz is the latest labyrinthine thriller from the mind of Alias, Lost and Fringe creator JJ Abrams.
All the usual of Abrams’ favourite themes are there – science fiction, procedural investigation, conspiracy theory, inter-dimensional crime and a healthy dose of time travel.
It’s present day and the San Francisco Police Department detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) is assigned to a brutal homicide case, and as the investigation gathers pace a fingerprint helps to uncover a shocking suspect: Jack Sylvane, an Alcatraz inmate who died over 30 years ago.
Given her family history – both her grandfather and surrogate uncle were guards at the infamous island prison – Rebecca wants to delve deeper into the mystery. If her personal connection to the case wasn’t enough, once the enigmatic, knows-everything-but-tells-nothing government agent Emerson Hauser (Neill) tries to impede her investigation, she wants answers even more than ever.
Rebecca turns to Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast Dr. Diego ‘Doc’ Soto (Garcia) to piece together the inexplicable sequence of events. The two discover that Sylvane is not only alive, but he’s loose on the streets of San Francisco, exacting decades-old revenge and leaving bodies in his wake. Unbelievably, he hasn’t aged a day since 1963 when Alcatraz was ruled by the iron-fisted Warden Edwin James and the sadistic Associate Warden EB Tiller.
Madsen and Soto reluctantly team with Hauser and his technician, Lucy Banerjee (Nagra), to stop Sylvane’s killing spree. And by delving into Alcatraz history, government cover-ups and Rebecca’s own heritage, the team soon discovers that Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister present-day threat – he won’t be the first Alcatraz inmate to reappear. Each episode sees another ‘missing’ vengeful inmate re-emerge from the past.
Through the course of the investigation, Rebecca and Soto learn that Hauser has been awaiting the prisoners’ return for nearly 50 years. But what is behind this sudden reincarnation of some of the country’s most dangerous criminals? Is it part of a bigger conspiracy? The truth, as they say, is out there…
Alcatraz really keeps you on your toes from the first episode as it makes you constantly try and guess the writer’s next move. It’s impossible as there are more twists and turns in the plot than and ice skater on a frozen lake. By the end of the first episode you’ll be wondering who are the baddies and goodies, what happened to the inmates and guards and who is behind all of it.
Alcatraz airs on Watch from March 2012