• Network: FOX
  • Series Premiere Date: Jan 16, 2012
  • Season #: 1
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 138 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 93 out of 138
  2. Negative: 20 out of 138

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  1. Jan 18, 2012
    1
    This review contains spoilers, click expand 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.
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  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 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.
  3. Jan 17, 2012
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Ok so according to the show these people disappeared in 63 and have only begun to come back from who know where. How do they come back? Well the only example so far is they come back to where they left from, a prison. I understand it is a tourist destination, I've been, but if these murderious inmates are coming back, shut down the island and lock the doors. Problem solved. The task force is located on "the rock" but allows people they have photographs of to just walk out and catch the next ferry! I hope they fix this and show someone materialize at Starbucks just so they make this huge problem not so easy to fix. Expand
  4. Feb 3, 2012
    3
    Just 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.
  5. Jan 16, 2012
    3
    Granted Alcatraz has an interesting premise. As long as the ratings don't disappoint, this show should never run out of juice, after all, there are over hundreds of missing criminals to base future episodes and seasons on. Though, after watching the first two episodes, I can't help but feel like there are some seriously humdrum characters in this show. The leads seem boring to me. I'd like to rate the show higher, but i'm not sure how long I'll be able to remain interested in it. A great premise can take you a long way, but if the series lacks interesting characters, eventually it will grow tiresome. Expand
  6. Jan 17, 2012
    5
    This was missing a lot. JJ can do so much better. It almost feels that he isn't even present except for there being a hutch in the jungle and numbers everywhere. I feel that Lost fans will hang on in order to fill that tv show void. Everything is just to convenient for this detective. So far she is a better detective than Batman. She is unrealistically finding evidence and making assumptions. It's not real enough for me to get connected and root for her. I'm upset to have a mixed review. Collapse
  7. Feb 14, 2012
    5
    JJ Abrams should know from previous experience what we all want. So far he isn't even close. The cast is average , production value is high, this could be a good show except it is not, yet. It is episodic, each episode it practically independent from the others which kills the atmosphere, and like many said before, the way the detectives solve the clues and how they immediately know that a certain crime was committed by a prisoner is preposterous, as if no crimes were committed except by them. There are a few interesting details in there, a bit of mystery regarding some objects. But until and unless the characters start to become interconnected and all of them are included in the mystery it will stay bland. I keep watching hoping that it will turn into that, however, this system of each episode being about one different character is slowly turning it into a bore. Expand
  8. Mar 3, 2012
    4
    It's an interesting idea, but there are several issues with the show. Some characters' motivations are not explicitly proportional to their zeal and determination. There is very little character development for the girl and her lines are sometimes so inane they make this viewer cringe. After the second episode, the pattern of the series became clear: 57 minutes about random prisoner X who has just come back and the events leading to his capture + 3 minutes of exposition that reveals a tiny bit more about the mystery. After 2-3 more episodes, those 3 minutes were down to 1 minute (or nothing at all, as in the one last week.) We still record it, for now. I tell my husband to let me know when there's 5 minutes left because that's all that's worth watching, if at all. I expect to stop watching it altogether before the end of the season. Life is short, no sense in wasting time on mediocre television. Expand
  9. Feb 29, 2012
    3
    I was hoping that J.J. Abrams learned on the last seasons of Lost and wouldn't disappoint me with Alcatraz. Especially with Hurley on it. Well... he pulled it off. The show is just plain dumb and boring. Garcia IS Hurley here, the protagonist can find bullets within seconds in a park or deduct just everything from anything. The show is just outrageously simple. It doesn't surprise you in any way and I think it should get canned. Hell, it doesn't even make you think for a second.

    The pace is drastically slow, characters are boring and shallow. Acting isn't even worth mentioning. It could've been a good show. I just don't understand why J.J. and half of the Lost crew, that work on this, can look at themselves in the mirror spurting week after week a show so dull.
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  10. Mar 20, 2012
    8
    At first, I felt like this plot wouldn't work. How could you take an old prison and give it the "Lost" treatment? However, it works. You wonder why each prisoner has just shown up back in the real world. Thankfully, the well written story is fleshed out. It doesn't have nearly as many of those "huh?" moments Lost had, and that's a good thing.
  11. Jan 19, 2012
    8
    Despite some solid gold gems of cheese in the scripting department, Alcatraz is a well set up, well structured mystery show that can walk the line between heavy hitting serialized storytelling and easy going procedural. The show follows Detective Rebecca Madsen as she hunts down inmates of Alcatraz who all disappeared in 1963 but are suddenly coming back in present day San Francisco, not having aged. It's classic JJ Abrams with the central mystery being deep and complex. However the thing that makes Alcatraz work is the procedural element. The criminals/cases of the week are genuinely creepy and menacing with the show really getting the idea of The Rock being the house for the 'worst of the worst'. The pilots case is borderline generic but the 2nd installment is a great self contained story with a little sprinkling of the deeper mystery put in for good measure. Of all the new shows this season, only Boss has been better. The acting is good with Sarah Jones being an empathetic lead, Jorge Garcia providing some much needed comic relief as well as an interesting dynamic to the show. Sam Neill does what he does best in acting mysterious and self aggrandising. If there is any downside to Alcatraz its that it plays like a Fringe spin off with Fringe's first season being heavily procedural as well. However despite the similarities it probably shouldn't be that big a problem as Fringe developed into one of the best genre shows on television today, so this reviewer has high hopes. Expand
  12. Jun 7, 2012
    5
    Coming from J.J Abram's stable and set on the mysterious prison island of the same name, Alcatraz had all the ingredients to be a great show. Unfortunately, it was billed as the new Lost and although this surely attracted viewers to the early episodes, this expectation probably did more harm than good as the show falls a long way short of Abram's work.

    I'm sure most viewers did not expect
    to be tuning in each week to watch a really weak police drama with the occasional scrap of intrigue thrown in relating to the 1963 Alcatraz era. With the exception of the first and final episodes, the episodes are repetitively mechanical and formulaic. Each time we are introduced to a new inmate from 1963 on the loose in modern day San Francisco, each one as clichéd as the last. A sniper, child killer, poisoner, bomber, bank robber are all covered throughout the series. The team then use Dr. Soto's (played by Jorge Garcia) in depth knowledge of the prison along with the inmates personal belongings to track down the escapee within the totally contrived time-frame required.

    In casting Jorge Garcia as one of the main characters, the producers did not help but draw similarities to Lost. Garcia does not help matters as his character may as well be Hurley, with his shyness, wit and cuddly teddy bear personality. Just in case the desire to replicate Lost wasn't totally obvious, the producers hired Lost's composer Michael Giacchino. The results are an almost identical Lost-style string loop piece of music.

    In replicating Lost's penchant for posing more questions than providing answers with the view to a long run, Alcatraz shot itself in the foot as the result is a show not half as good as Lost and it does not do enough to maintain the viewers intrigue throughout the season. The bulk of the episodes tease by mainly dealing with the inmate's recapture rather than shedding any light on the how and why of their reappearance after 40 years. It was early on that we found out that Lucy was a 63'er, we then discovered that the sinister warden was doing something to do the blood of certain inmates with silver and ultimately that he appears to be behind the reappearance of the inmates, tasked with tracking down keys for a room on Alcatraz.

    Sam Neil was the biggest name to sign on for the series but his character was incredibly dislikeable and his cranky and aggressive nature to his colleagues wore me down throughout the season.

    Alcatraz is the latest in a few sci-fi based TV shows to not survive past one season (see FlashForward and Terra Nova). Overall I feel the producers made it difficult for the show to be successful and while the show has some serious flaws, I feel that with the unanswered questions and remaining intrigue it did have the potential to grow into something better and probably deserved a second season.
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  13. Jan 18, 2012
    6
    The biggest things Alcatraz has going for it are it's interesting premise and Sam Neill's incredible acting. That being said, the first two episodes were not as good as I had hoped. The dialogue left something to be desired, as did the apparent awkwardness between Jones and Garcia. I have high hopes for Alcatraz, so I'll be back for at least a few more episodes. Hopefully they can round this one out. Expand
  14. BKM
    Jan 17, 2012
    7
    Based on just two episodes, I'd say that Alcatraz is promising. Several things will have to be tinkered with it it is to survive for the long haul, however. The characters need more fully developed, Garcia needs to do more than simply rehash his role from Lost and there needs to be a more complex mythology in place as opposed to the one central mystery that series is built on. For now, though, I'm on board. Expand
  15. Feb 2, 2012
    7
    I'll watch for a while but this show seems a bit formulaic. It's almost like Alcatraz is being used as a vehicle to launch a series of mundane capers. Sam Neil seems miss-casted as Emerson Hauser. At least it got that awful Terra Nova off the air.
  16. Feb 10, 2012
    9
    Not enough mistory. Well don't get me wrong the first mistory is good but no more? No more mistory has been showed but what happens in the first. LOST had alot of mistory and supernatual things happen this is only focusing on one. Don't get me wrong good show but if anything needs inprovment its the supernatual element.
  17. Jan 23, 2012
    9
    Alcatraz is a very good show with a great amount of potential for the future. From the first two episodes I am excited. The story is absolutely genius. The only thing I havent liked through the first two episodes is the acting, the acting so far is only so-so. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the actors in the show, especially Garcia, ive loved him from the very start of Lost, but they just don't seem to be 100% in the show, the acting so far seems a bit weak, but it should improve (hopefully). I can definitely see the similarities to Lost greatly, anybody else notice the music was the same from Lost? It really sets the tone of the show, I loved it in Lost and I love it in Alcatraz. Alcatraz has great potential with a genius story and great characters, the acting needs improvement but thats all. Give this show a shot, its worth an hour of your dreaded monday, trust me, it definitely makes mine better. 9.5/10 Expand
  18. Feb 17, 2012
    7
    Based in the first one and the second episode, this follows the same writing of lost , alternating between the present time and past time about the characters, not so innovative . Otherwise , it has some gripping moments witch suggest the series are going boost
  19. Jan 23, 2012
    9
    (This is after episode 3)
    The show is interesting (both the main story and the side stories of the criminals). The acting is good but I do not like Sarah Jones as a lead. If you are a fan of lost then you will like this show. I enjoy it and cant wait to see what happens next.
  20. Jan 17, 2012
    10
    awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great awesome great
  21. Jan 18, 2012
    6
    The feels similar to lost. It has the same composer which translates to great music that really helps draw in the audience. I really like all the actors save the lead female character. Her acting seems a bit forced and her character seems more than a bit annoying, almost child like, and brash. While the first episode was spectacular, the second episode really let me down with some poor writing. It seemed as if they were rushing through the story and pulling clues out their behinds. I loved lost and I have high hopes for this show. I hope the season improves. Expand
  22. Jan 17, 2012
    10
    Best new show of the year. the story line is interesting, the writing is phenomenal and the acting is superb. The premier was fantastic and I was immediately wanting more! Can't wait for next week.
  23. Jan 21, 2012
    9
    I didn't think I would like this show. I'm not a big J.J. Abrams fan. I watched lost. I got hooked on lost. I wasn't really satisfied with lost, I had just invested so much time into the show I had to know how it ended. Fringe's second and third season was great. It's fourth is terrible, so obviously when I heard of a new J.J. Abrams show I had less than high hopes, and wow was I blown away. The acting is fairly good for a TV show, but the story is really getting me somewhat anxious. Whats going on? Why are the inmates coming back? Who is the lady who was shot? How did Sam Neil's character know that the inmates would be returning? So many questions. So few answers so far. All I can ask for is that this is not another show where the answers are few and far between. I want lots of answers that open more questions and many many twists, but this is J.J. Abrams....i'm still upset over lost... Expand
  24. Jan 22, 2012
    10
    I give this a solid review in part because of Sam Neill's performance, but also because of the fact that although containing some typical plot elements, it offers a fresh take on crime drama. The hit shows CSI, Law & Order, etc, thrive on the comfort of a typical structured story. This adds new elements, and the show as a whole deserves a chance, especially because the writing could only improve if it is well received, with a fair amount of money dedicated thus far. It is also worth noting that Sam Neill is a well qualified actor who usually only works by choice, he does not have to act for any reason other than enjoying it, enabling him to be selective. That tells me there is some promise to the young show. Expand
  25. Jan 31, 2013
    6
    Solid acting by the cast with a few likeable leads. The story is interesting but doesn't go any where all season. Lack of explaination and the fact that you learn very little each episode (sometimes nothing at all) sort of ruins the show. It had a lot of promise but it simply failed to live up to it's potential.
  26. Feb 2, 2012
    6
    I'll watch anything with Jorge Gracia in it and the guy from Jurassic Park although the female lead, Sarah Jones, wouldn't have been my first pick for the show. I really enjoy watching it, seeing what kind of crazy prisoners (and their stories) were locked away in Alcatraz. The only problem I have with the show is as of now it seem as Soto is the most helpful character in the show. What's the point of having Madsen help out with the project besides her grandfather is one of the convicted inmates? I guess only time will tell and I am excited to see how it plays out. Expand
  27. Feb 14, 2012
    7
    The serial began only recently, but already it was of interest to many, and I am no exception. ;) The first three series I liked. The only thing to be feared - monotony. I do not want to have each series started and ended the same way. There will be one way or the writers will present us with many surprises, time will tell, but for now look ...
  28. Feb 22, 2012
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I am really glad I found this show. I like the good mix of current day to flashback ratio, something to be expected of a JJ Abrams product. -Sam Niel is a bit too cryptic for me but probably only because I am dying to get more details about his true intentions and what is going on in his secret bat cave. -Doc is great, I love the comic book nerd thrust into the reluctant hero role. Jorge Garcia is great at playing that part. You could argue it is a similar role to Hurley but he is the best at it.
    -Madsen is the only annoying part for me. She comes on just a little too strong. She took the fact that her grandfather went from prison guard to inmate with a quirky smile. Not the reaction I would have had.
    -The flashbacks on the rock are at their best when the scene involves the warden. I really like his character the best. All in all the writing is good, the plots are well thought out, and the veil is lifted just a tiny hair of an amount with every episode, again a JJ Abrams specialty.
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  29. Mar 31, 2012
    7
    Right from seeing the 1st trailer of this show, you know that the inmates have time traveled and you just want to know why. Unfortunately you have sit through several episodes of a fairly bland, CBS style show before the Sci-Fi kicks in. There are many weird illogical things like the the fact that nobody, cops or criminals is particularly surprised that time traveling happens, and the criminals from the 60s who have only been in this time for a few hours somehow know about cell phones, rather than just standing staring in the window at PC World thinking 'WTF is that?'. The typical JJ flashbacks are back, breaking up the 'action' of hunting the criminals with scenes from inside the prison in the 60s that don't really add anything to the story and are just an annoying distraction. Overall its good, but not very good, or as good as it could have been. Expand
  30. Feb 29, 2012
    9
    Alcatraz is just the most addicting new show on TV right now. Whether it be because of its great actors (Jorge Garcia, Sam Neil), its engrossing story, its interesting characters, or its simply creative idea- it tops every other show currently on. The show tells a great story through episodes that are more like short stories, allowing for people to start watching the show late in the season without missing anything too important. It's gripping and addicting and I just can't have enough of it. As soon this first season comes out on Blu-Ray, I'm buyin' it. Expand
  31. Feb 27, 2012
    6
    Its just started to get good at Episode 4 however I dont see this being a MASSIVE smash. When you compare to other mystery TV shows like The River is just doesnt have longevity I dont think.
  32. Mar 5, 2012
    7
    Okay show with a hot actress in Sarah jones who is a joy to look at but too predictable after you find out whats going on. Step one find out which old prisoner is killing people, step 2 go find and kill or bring him back to alcatraz for questioning, and step 3 do it all over again. The fat guy is distracting in how massive he is and the whole time on screen your not focused on his acting just wondering how a man can get to that size. People love Sam Neill mainly because of Event Horizon and Jurassic Park so now he can do no wrong probably in the mind of many. Like that fat man is a comic book writer and loves all these past criminals but lost interest in the show after 3 episodes. Expand
  33. Mar 6, 2012
    4
    Going no where fast. As another reviewer said "a blonde female cop with a genius." Ho Hum. With JJ producing I thought we might get something interesting. But every week it is "catch the uber bad guy" with no advancement of the overall plot of What happened? Then ad in the over use of the ratcheting "smoke monster" sound, which was creepy when used sparingly. Bad writer's who don't care, lame use of Steve McQueen's Bullit mustang. No original ideas so far. I keep hoping, but not getting. Expand
  34. Mar 9, 2012
    7
    Alcatraz is another interesting show with a scifi twist from Fox. Although it took a few episodes to get going into the plot, the show has a heartbeat and i think it has a lot of potential. The writers are obviously talented b/c they give you enough information per episode to make you feel like you learned something, but not too much to spoil the overall plot. A very interesting watch for anyone who can think outside the box. Intrigue and the mystery surrounding the disappearances are what is driving the show, so let us hope they don't try too hard to make it edgy or too realistic. I know I'd like to see where this show can go. With all the horrible reality tv out there, I commend Fox for at least trying to think about real shows still. Expand
  35. May 25, 2012
    1
    What a good concept. Not enough SciFi on TV with a touch of criminal action. How much better would it have been if Rebecca was the expert and Diego Soto was the Detective? What you say... a male Detective on a tv show! no way...
  36. Mar 30, 2012
    7
    There is a great frustration during this show, because explanations about the mystery are not known and clues are very rare, but we learn to appreciate the characters, especially Rebecca and Dr Diego Soto, during the investigations
    However, if the fantastic side is not shown, it's always present I wish a new season for learning more about the story ...
  37. Apr 1, 2012
    9
    Excellent show. I've been to Alcatraz and it was scary as **** They've really done well twisting this story every which way and making you really think 'what actually happened.' Its interesting and thrilling :)
  38. May 22, 2012
    5
    Alcatraz attempts to indulge us with creating a complex and serious storyline based on material that is just impossible to write a sensible script to. They attempt to express characters that haven't aged, and they fail to explain the reasons for this in any way. This leaves a bitter and unsatisfactory conclusion to every episode, which unfortunately is consistent throughout.

    But it isn't
    all sour. The series focused on two plots. The present plot and a past plot. It almost feels like two different directors were making two different films and they each have a unique approach. Whatever the problems are with the present plot, it doesn't interfere much with the past plot.

    This gives Alcatraz some logical initiative to its characters, especially the antagonists. The major success, and probably its only one, is the direction these characters are presented with a solid connection between the past and the present plots (at least emotionally). Their emotions and the expressions of their behavior, their reasons, are often plentiful and make enough drama to drag what otherwise would be a desolate sci fi into a shallow, but watchable indulgence. In addition the protagonists carry some interest. Most of them are generic and get confused in the plot, but it's good to see Sam Neill trying his hand at something serious, and he doesn't do a terrible job if it wasn't for the tired aura constantly streaming from his character. Jorge Garcia also gives the show a more lightweight comical approach with his enthusiastic casualness.

    But all this falls apart when it becomes long term. Nothing really progresses. The last episode could pass off as the first, and if it wasn't for the half sighted tension and the concentrated sub character development than this series would have hit a solid dead end. It simply isn't concreting anything other than subtlety.
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  39. Jun 24, 2014
    5
    The show was interesting at first then this show became a disappointment. It wasn't bad per say, but it wasn't good either. It was okay, but I knew it was going to be cancelled.
  40. Jun 6, 2013
    5
    It started off quite strong interesting idea with good cast! Unfortunately further on it got kinda boring and repetitive! But I hate when broadcasters cancel the show in the middle of it(middle finger to Fox for that)!
  41. Mar 8, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Alcatraz was a great show loved it about the 63's but unfortunately FOX Cancelled the show and left us with a cliff hanger did Rebecca live or die? we can hear the time of death but not the full report if she died or lived. Expand
Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.