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Alcatraz TV Show Review - What Really Happened to the Alcatraz Prisoners?

Updated on November 10, 2012

Alcatraz TV Show - No one Escapes From The Rock

The New Alcatraz TV show aired on Fox for the first time on January 16th 2012. It was the most highly anticipated new TV series due out in Spring and it is easy to see why. The Alcatraz TV series is based on the actual prison, where only the worst prisoners were housed and none of them ever escaped.

Many people are facinated with the stories and backgrounds of the inmates that lived in Alcatraz. There are a number of Alcatraz novels and documentaries all about the Island. Fox's new TV show is the newest edition to the Alcatraz interest and they have given it a slight twist.

Alcatraz TV Show Synopsis

According to the Alcatraz TV show, when the prison shut on March 21st 1963 the prisoners weren't transferred to other institutions. Indeed, no one actually knows what happened to the inmates. Everyone appears to have disappeared from the Island one evening, including the guards of Alcatraz. However, the situation has now changed and some of America's worst known criminals are returning over 50 years after they disappeared.

Doc, Rebecca Madsen and Emerson Hauser
Doc, Rebecca Madsen and Emerson Hauser
Jack Sylvane is the first prisoner to resurface after 50 years.
Jack Sylvane is the first prisoner to resurface after 50 years.

It is not easy to find these criminals as no one is looking for them. This is a well kept secret and only a small department of the FBI are aware that these criminals disappeared and now seem to have returned. 50 years later and the former inmates of Alcatraz look like they haven't aged a day.

Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) is in charge of the special FBI unit and unreluctantly recruits Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) from the San Francisco Police Department, when it becomes clear she has started to realize there is something off with Emerson Hauser and the criminals he is trying to track.

Rebecca brings in Dr. Diego Soto, also known as Doc, (Jorge Garcia) who runs a local comic book shop and he's also a historian who has written at least 2 novels on the inmates of Alcatraz. It is with his help that Rebecca goes on to solve the case and realizes that Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) was an inmate of Alcatraz before it closed over 50 years ago. Jack appears to have come back to exact revenge on the staff of Alcatraz for bad treatment during his stay at Alcatraz.

Rebecca speaks with her uncle, Ray Archer (Robert Forster) about Alcatraz as she has been told her whole life that her grandfather and Ray were prison guards together at Alcatraz. However, Rebecca soon realizes she has a special place in this secret FBI team as her grandfather is actually one of the missing inmates and not a guard. She also realizes that her grandfather is the man who killed her Police partner and explains why she couldn't find any details or records of him anywhere. According to the rest of the world her grandfather is 59 years younger than he should be, not to mention he is listed as dead.

Emerson grudgingly agrees he has to work with Rebecca but he is still not forthcoming in terms of some of the details. He clearly knows more than he is telling the 2 new recruits and he was a young guard at Alcatraz the night everyone disappeared. He was one of the 2 guards that made the discovery of the deserted prison.

Emerson's partner Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra) encourages Emerson to trust Rebecca, Lucy and Emerson seem to have a strong connection. Nothing seems to phase Lucy and we found out very quickly why that is.

Lucy Banerjee was a Doctor at Alcatraz back in 1963. She also has not aged in the interveening years. Unfortunately, Lucy is shot in the 2nd episode of Alcatraz and is lying unconscious in the hospital. It is unknown at this point if Lucy will survive.

The Alcatraz cast and characters
The Alcatraz cast and characters

Alcatraz Cast and Characters

  • Sam Neill as Emerson Hauser - Previously a guard of Alcatraz back in the 1960s and now a FGI agent in charge of finding and recapturing the missing Alcatraz prisoners.
  • Sarah Jones as Rebecca Madsen - Formally a homicide detective for the SFPD and now part of Emerson Hauser's team.
  • Jorge Garcia as Dr. Diego Soto, also known as Doc - Owner of a small comic book store, historian and acclaimed author of at least 2 novels on the history and inhabitants of Alcatraz.
  • Parminder Nagra as Lucy Banerjee - Woked alongside Emerson Hauser until she was shot and is now in a coma in the hospital. Lucy Banerjee also appears to be a Doctor from the 1960s that worked at Alcatraz and doesn't appear to have aged a day.
  • Robert Foster as Ray Archer - He is Rebecca Madsen's Uncle and also was an Alcatraz Prison Guard.
  • David Hofflin as Tommy Madsen - Grandfather of Rebecca Madsen and escaped convict of Alcatraz. He also indicated "something bad" was about to happen at Alcatraz.
  • Leon Rippy as Dr. Beauregard - He also worked at Alcatraz and doesn't seem to have aged. He also took blood from the prisoners of Alcatraz.

Unanswered Questions in Alcatraz TV Series

So far a number of questions have been raised in the Alcatraz series so far.

What happened to the inmates of Alcatraz? Where have they been all this time and why are they coming back now? The real question is who is behind it all?

There are other questions that haven't been asked out loud yet but will probably be asked by viewers soon, such as what happened to the staff that worked at Alcatraz that night?

We have seen that the young female of the team that god shot was also a Doctor back in Alcatraz before the inmates disappeared and she hasn't aged a day. Has the same happened to the other personnel of Alcatraz?

Also why was the doctor taking blood from so many of the inmates of Alcatraz? What's the significance of the blood?

Also is it important that the blonde chick is his granddaughter? What's so important about her grandad? Does he know she is his granddaughter?

I guess we'll just have to keep watching the Alcatraz show and hope to get some answers in the near future.

Tommy Madsen
Tommy Madsen

Where Will Alcatraz Go From Here?

I have a feeling that the Alcatraz TV show will follow a new criminal each week. We will find out about the inmates who have disappeared as they are tracked down and locked up in the modern underground Alcatraz like facility.

Each week the same questions will be prodded at but answers will not be forthcoming and will take a while to get any resolution. In fact, if J.J. Abrahams continues his normal format, don't expect to get any answers soon. Answers may be eluded to but normally this will pruely lead to more unanswered question. The only piece of advice I can give is not to make any assumptions, as they may seem sound in the short term but will no doubt be turned on their heads in the long term.

I have a feeling as well that Rebecca Madsens Grandfather, Tommy Madsen, will remain elusive for most of the season. However, he appears to be the key to the mystery surrounding the imates at Alcatraz. He alludes to knowing more than he should. He even warns some of the other inmates on numerous occasions that something terrible is going to happen.

Alcatraz Trailer

Did You Enjoy Alcatraz?

What Did You Think of Alcatraz?

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Is the Alcatraz TV Show For You?

The Alcatraz TV show is intriguing and interesting. Although based in reality in the sense that it's about Alcatraz, it really is fictional. It's very similar in that way to Lost and even has a Lost type feel to it. The inclusion of Jorge Gorgia who played Hurley Reyes, the lottery winner, from Lost also reminds me of Lost constantly.

Hopefully, the storyline for Alcatraz will not be dragged out as long as Lost was because although I initially enjoyed Lost, long term it was confusing and eventually I Lost interest. (Pun intended)

Also I found the treatment of the criminals in Alcatraz very disturbing and violent at times.

When you watch Alcatraz it's simply astounding the treatment that prisoners experienced behind bars. Many people say the prisons of today are too soft and are similar to luxury hotels. Although I have never agreed with that view, you can see why people think that when compared to the terrible conditions depicted in Alcatraz. If this is a true picture of what the prison was like, I can safely safe it's not the type of prison I would want to be incarcerated in. On the other hand, if I knew I would go to an institution such as Alcatraz today, I highly doubt I would risk doing the crime.

So if you like your science fiction embedded in reality then this Alcatraz TV series is for you.

Unfortunately Alcatraz will not last and has been cancelled after only one season. Read the Cancelled TV Shows 2012 hub to find out why.

Will the Alcatraz Series Last?

With most science fictiion programming there is an increase in the likelihood of early cancellation.

This is mostly because these type of shows have high budgets needed to make the special effects look realistic. Alcatraz, like Lost, differs in this aspect because it is based in the present, therefore it doesn't require the type of budget of V, Firefly, Fringe and Falling Skies.

As long as the audience contiues to tune in to watch Alcatraz then it could be around for a while. Although it is too early to say, generally, sci-fi fans are one of the most loyal followings so the Alcatraz TV show has a high chance of being renewed for a second season.


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    • wvugirl2007 profile image


      6 years ago from Virginia

      I loved this show. I wish it had not been cancelled. It is a great one to watch if you missed it. You could probably watch it quickly if you can find it on DVD or only a streaming deal. I feel that the season was wrapped up nicely and it is now almost like a long mini-series in that respect.

    • Lauryallan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thank you Iouromano, glad you liked it and found it useful.

    • louromano profile image


      7 years ago

      Great information. Excellent hub.


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