• Network: FOX
  • Series Premiere Date: Jan 16, 2012
  • Season #: 1
Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Jan 13, 2012
    88
    The show has the makings of great--what else can I say?--escapist entertainment. [23 Jan 2012, p.39]
  2. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Jan 13, 2012
    83
    It was a dark and stormy night--and a weird, fun, trippy one, too.
  3. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Jan 17, 2012
    80
    For now, Alcatraz is a sinister bag of sinister pleasures.
  4. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Jan 17, 2012
    80
    The pilot looks great, offers an intriguing plot and effortlessly introduces the show's characters and premise.
  5. Reviewed by: Joanne Ostrow
    Jan 13, 2012
    80
    It's all very creepy, mysterious and loaded with questions.
  6. Reviewed by: Linda Stasi
    Jan 17, 2012
    75
    The pilot moves along well, is a lot of fun--but Madsen is just too blond and bland to create the kind of excitement that Jennifer Garner or other of Abrams' female kick-ass characters were able to do with both hands tied behind their backs.
  7. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Jan 17, 2012
    75
    Alcatraz is easy enough to follow tonight, with twists and surprises that are enjoyable and not enervating.
  8. Reviewed by: Lori Rackl
    Jan 13, 2012
    75
    Alcatraz sure is [fun].
  9. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jan 3, 2012
    75
    For now, though, this is a series that's seemingly built on an arresting foundation.
  10. Reviewed by: Mary McNamara
    Jan 17, 2012
    70
    Here he has both--mood galore and a premise strong enough to not only sire a great pilot but to sustain a solid series.
  11. Reviewed by: Neil Genzlinger
    Jan 17, 2012
    70
    A spunky upgrade over the collection of interchangeable police procedurals clogging the television schedule.
  12. Reviewed by: Nancy DeWolf Smith
    Jan 13, 2012
    70
    Inquiring minds who liked "Lost," or "The 4400" and "The Event" will find much to feast on.
  13. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jan 13, 2012
    67
    Alcatraz lacks humor and suspense but it could morphs into something interesting. [20 Jan 2012, p.69]
  14. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Jan 17, 2012
    60
    There is something to like in Alcatraz's smooth momentum. The show has a spirit that comes through in spite of the flavorless cheese crumbles piled atop it.
  15. Reviewed by: Rick Porter
    Jan 17, 2012
    60
    There's enough in the premise and the performances (particularly those of Garcia and Neill) to keep us watching, but to really hook us in Alcatraz needs to decide what kind of show it wants to be.
  16. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    Jan 17, 2012
    60
    Happily, there are reasons to watch Alcatraz, starting with an appealing cast and a premise that really does not require a college degree in the mythology of other worlds.
  17. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jan 13, 2012
    60
    Although there's no shortage of romance surrounding Alcatraz -- and the idea of hardened criminals becoming dangerous anachronisms is a time-worn concept -- there's a nagging sense these are just going to be (very) cold cases, which will grow tedious without something more, and quickly, to fuel the larger mystery.
  18. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jan 17, 2012
    58
    It's much too generic given Abrams' reputation from "Alias," "Lost," the better years of "Fringe" and the "Star Trek" reboot.
  19. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    I'm not hooked, but I'm not yet planning my escape, either.
  20. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    Alcatraz's early crime stories are competent enough, in a moody, achey, men-gone-wrong kind of way. But there's a coldness to the show, and no sense that these are characters I want to invest in and spend time getting to know.
  21. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    The mysteries of the mythology--Where were they for the last half-century? Who's pulling their violent strings?--are more compelling than the plodding mechanics of the weekly manhunt.
  22. Reviewed by: Maureen Ryan
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    Alcatraz isn't bad, but it's not exactly brimming with the kind of engaging magic and memorable people that you want from a J.J. Abrams project.
  23. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    There's not much payoff to the premise. Which is a real shame, because there's a good show here somewhere
  24. Reviewed by: Chris Conaton
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    Based on the first two episodes, Alcatraz is a middling show.
  25. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    Obviously, it's necessary to give viewers the backstory on the returning thug of the week, but let's hope that if the show finds its legs, it won't need quite as many reminders of its fundamental concept.
  26. Reviewed by: Chris Heller
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    Now, if Alcatraz would only ditch Michael Giacchino's melodramatic score, go all-in on the lingering gloom, and give Sam Neill something to do besides scowl, it'd be a show worth watching.
  27. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Jan 17, 2012
    50
    Like "Lost," the show is burdened with flashbacks and divides its time between the present and the prison 50 years earlier.
  28. 40
    The characters are so TV cute (and in some cases TV pretty) and the storytelling so mechanical, that I couldn't give myself over to it either way.
  29. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Jan 17, 2012
    40
    Soto helps the mood of the show with his wry attitude and occasional gee-whiz-ardry, and he helps to move the plot along by stating facts that Rebecca would otherwise have to pause and look up.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 139 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 42
  2. Negative: 6 out of 42
  1. Jan 18, 2012
    1
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. This show had such promise, a talented creator, a basic idea with some merit, decent cast. Alas, the weak script doesn't hold water. Instead of an interesting drama we get another police show in which a blond cop teams up with a genius professor in order to catch bad guys, all the time working for a secret government agency. Haven't we seen this hundreds of times before? Seems like they tried to combine CSI, The 4400 and Fringe into one lousy show.

    The script itself is astonishingly stupid. A guy who disappeared 30 years ago, pops up and goes on a violence spree although we are told countless times that he is not a killer, only a thief. The deputy warden used to treat him badly because that's what deputy wardens do, without any motives or explanations, they're just "bad" people, so he kills him. And then he decides to kill two more cops and another man from whom he takes a key, in order to plant the seed for the show's mystery. The first episode ends with him visiting the grave of his dead ex-wife who divorced him while he was in prison in order to marry his brother. By the way before visiting the grave he kidnaps the brother however we are never told if he killed him or not. Seems the writers forgot about the brother.

    I almost cried from the absurdity of that last paragraph! They writers actually forgot about the brother. What's the point of him kidnapping him if we are not shown the police freeing him. I would advise showing this episode in film school in order to teach people what not to do.
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 17, 2012
    3
    Having lived in the Bay Area for 8 years and enjoying "Lost", I *really* wanted to like this show. Unfortunately, though, the dialogue wasHaving lived in the Bay Area for 8 years and enjoying "Lost", I *really* wanted to like this show. Unfortunately, though, the dialogue was pretty poor and the acting was so-so at best. I'll tune in for the next few episodes, but I'll be quickly tuning out if they're anything like the first two episodes. Full Review »
  3. Feb 3, 2012
    3
    Just really, really mediocre. The show's "goody" characters hide secrets from the audience uneccesarily, the dialog is terrible, simplisticJust really, really mediocre. The show's "goody" characters hide secrets from the audience uneccesarily, the dialog is terrible, simplistic and makes me feel like the writers are saying, "do you get what's happened here? No? Ok let us go over it for a 5th time!" As a fan of both Fringe and Lost I am horrifically disappointed by this effort. Full Review »