Alcatraz Doesn’t Quite Rock

By: Tory  |  Published: January 24th, 2012   |  Category: Tory Shulman News

Here is my review on Alcatraz.


Which is so disappointing because I really wanted to like this show. Like “LOST” like it. It had JJ Abrams producing and Hurley was starring in it and it was taking place again on an island again!…I mean a prison island but still an island. Even better, they got Sam Neill and who doesn’t like Sam Neill? That guy is like Indiana Jones’ shyer more serious older brother.

The premise is as follows: Somehow in 1963, 302 prisoners disappeared from Alcatraz. Gone without a trace, their cell doors still locked. Zip back to the present day and somehow they are all coming back, one episode at a time and reenacting their original crimes. The weirdest part about it, stay with me now, is that they haven’t aged at all. (throwback to eyeliner guy from LOST perhaps)? Sam Neill used to be a guard at Alcatraz and is now rounding up the bad guys with this mushroom-haired Detective lady and Hurley, who is an expert in Alcatraz and comic books or something like that.

Here is the prob. I have zero interest in any of these characters. The blonde chick has no back story and, even worse, no personality. And I cannot stop thinking that her hair would look so much better in extensions. And not because I don’t like short hair on women. I have personally had some really short haircuts, but it’s because when you have a hard edged character, with no back story and now you take away her femininity by use of the bowl cut you have made it almost impossible for people to be interested in her. So we look to Hurley to carry the show, but as we all know, Hurley is way better off as the comic relief whose real talent lies in saying “dude did you see that?” once an episode. So these two fail miserably but wait, there’s Indy’s brother Sam coming up to save this line up. Wrong.

Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? His character is so thin that after two episodes I honestly can’t even tell you if he is using an American or his actual New Zealand accent for this role. No idea. I just know that I wish he were the good guy because I could finally hook myself into liking at least one character on this show. But he runs a secret prison that’s super bright and scary which has yet to be explained and so I keep wavering back and forth on him.

When I was at University of Michigan, I took a really great film class by this famous professor and he taught us the difference between movie stars and movie actors. Kevin Costner is a movie star. You won’t see Kevin Costner as the bad guy in a movie. He is always the good guy because America wants him to be the good guy. We want him to pick up a bow and thrust it for justice or at least toss the ball back and forth with his dad in his backyard. Tom Hanks is another movie star. He is not on the other end of a walkie talkie blowing up a building. No. America wants to Tom to give us a friendly, breezy, RomCom with Meg Ryan and we are happy little ducklings. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a movie actor. We love that he can disappear into whatever role he takes, good, bad, or just extremely weird as in the case with Boogie Nights. The same goes for TV. Sam Neill needs to save the day. Simple as that. I don’t want him to be ambiguous because everything else about this show is ambiguous. Things were ambiguous as hell on Lost, but at least I knew Jack was always out of breath from running somewhere helpful. I could count on him as my good guy. But so far, this show has no up or down and it leaves me feeling trapped in an Alcatraz-induced-ambiguity-cloud.

And Alcatraz-induced-ambiguity-clouds are the worrrrst aren’t they?