"Radio the station. Tell them to send everyone." -- Grizzled cop
Alcatraz is a cop show with a sci-fi origin story. After two episodes, the only sci-fi in it is in the setup, and that setup has not been fully revealed. I guess there could be some real-world explanation. But that would be even more far-fetched, at this point, than a sci-fi thing.
Otherwise, it's a fairly interesting cop show. And that's about it. JJ Abrams is the creator, but his signature geek-wonder tone is not present.
Sam Neill is the shady boss who may know more than he's telling. The star of the thing is lady cop Rebecca, played by Sarah Jones, who looks like teen Katee Sackhoff.
Jorge Garcia, Hurley from Lost, tries to steal scenes but fails. I hate to say that, because Hurley rules. He's the exposition guy, and he's the victim of lame nerd jokes.
The setup is that mean bad guys from the 1960s all vanish from Alcatraz. Then they show up, one episode at a time, still young, in the present.
They don't know how they got to the present, they don't know where they've been, and they don't know why they're here. They just go back to killin'.
I presume we'll get answers sooner or later. But for once, I don't really mind the wait.
We got an answer from the short wait on The Event (aliens!) and the long wait on Lost (I have no idea). So, waiting a medium-sized time doesn't put me on the edge of my seat.
Besides, it could only be two things: Suspended animation or time travel. If it's some other sci-fi thing, that's more complicated than this needs to be.
Since the bulk of the show is not in the sci-fi mystery parts, it has to be in the procedural parts, where they track down and stop the bad guy. But most of those parts involve Hurley staring at a computer.
The lame nerd stuff involving Hurley is the worst part of the first couple episodes. When he sees a crime victim he says, "This isn't comic book world." That's right. It's sci-fi TV world. That's almost the same thing.
"It's not comic book world" must have been written to express that the events in this show are brutal, with real consequences. But they aren't. The show has time travel, or suspended animation. That is totally "comic book world."
When the bad guys get captured, they go away with Sam Neill to some secret place. I thought it would be the Phantom Zone or a carbonite chamber. Instead, it's just a new, spotlessly clean jail, with wide aisles and roomy cells.
That's a pretty good trade from grimy 1960s Alcatraz.
The bad guys attack a major cast member in only the second episode, so there is capital-A acting in the form of grief from our heroes.
But it's too early. We've only known these people for two episodes. I had no reason to care about the shooting victim.
The good guys just met her, too. Yet Hurley wants to quit, in only the second episode. And the lady cop goes to a quiet room and almost cries. In only the second episode!
Man up, people. The good guys are going to be weeping in the fetal position by the end of episode three.
For the record, Sam Neill does not cry. He fought dinosaurs. Mean thugs are no big deal.