Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Friday 9:00 PM Jan 16, 2012 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
283 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Detective Rebecca Madsen and Alcatraz historian Dr. Diego Soto, team up with a secret agency dedicated to finding and catching inmates from the Alcatraz prison who went strangely missing 50 years ago and are reappearing in today's world.

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  • Welcome to the Rock

    Great idea to tell story about one most popular place as prison Alcatraz. Very interesting plot, mix Fringe and Lost. I hope the first season will be great and finale spectacular. What kinf of experiment was in prison in 1963, why the ciminals and gurdians are missing. This mixture of all mysterius things great match to Alcatraz. Keep It Up!:)
  • Not bad at all, but a little confusing!

    Well, this was a show I was lookign forward to! I love the idea to it, and this was an interesting premiere, but for a large chunk of this premiere, I was just confused whiel watching it. That may be a good thing, I suppose, but it is also a little frustrating. I want ot have a little more info as to how these people are coming back.

    The storyline today was great. I enjoyed it, and it is certainly a good premiere.

    Hoping that it continues to impress! Can't wait for the next one!moreless
  • Pilot/Ernest Cobb

    He'd probably claim there's no correlation whatsoever, it's hard for me to dismiss the fact that, of the four previous shows to which J.J. Abrams attached his name, the ones that I've enjoyed the mostand, as it happens, the ones that have developed the most obsessive fanbasesare the ones for which he's taken the time to show up and help promote during the Television Critics Association press tour.

    Lost? Fringe? Present. Undercovers? Person Of Interest? No sign of the guy.

    Abrams was at the TCA tour to promote Alcatraz, however, so if you accept that the above observations are more than mere coincidence, then this is good news. Very good, even, when one takes into consideration the man's success the last time he tackled a series involving an island.

    The whole concept of an ostensibly inescapable prison located on an island has always been incredibly cool to begin with, but it takes a turn into potential awesomeness as soon as the voice of Agent Emerson Hauser kicks off the proceedings: "On March 21, 1963, Alcatraz officially closed due to rising costs and decrepit facilities. All the prisoners were transferred off the island. Only that's not what happened. Not at all."

    Y'see, a funny thing happened on March 20, 1963: A couple of guards hopped off the boat to make a transfer, only to find their island counterparts nowhere to be found. Nor, for that matter, was anyone else to be found in or around the prison. Everything appears to be perfectly intact, however, except for the complete and utter absence of the 302 people who'd been there, who remained MIA until well, now, actually. Flash forward to Alcatraz 2012, now a tourist attraction, and one of the missing inmatesJack Sylvanesuddenly reappears in his cell as if nothing has happened, and as if that isn't unlikely enough, he finds that he has a ticket back to the mainland in his jacket pocket, along with a wad of cash. Clearly, whoever or whatever is responsible for his return from wherever the hell he's been has prepared for future contingencies. Curiouser and curiouser. If it's a bit too convenient that he happens to find his own picture in a handy history of the prison, at least it's a moment, along with a quick flashback to 1960, which serves to set up a plan of action for Sylvane: get revenge on E.B. Tiller, former assistant warden at Alcatraz.

    What we see during the course of the first two episodes of Alcatraz is a blend of the intriguing and the formulaic. San Francisco Police Department Detective Rebecca Madsen stumbles into investigating a murder committed by Sylvane, gets thrown off the case by the intervening Hauser, and decides to keep investigating, anyway, recruiting the assistance of famed Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego Soto. The two prove to be a successful team, naturally, and by the end of the pilot, they've helped to capture the convict, and their efforts on Sylvane's casealong with Madsen's direct connection to one of the missing Alcatraziansresults in the two of them working with Hauser on a regular basis and discovering that there's more to this whole situation than meets the eye.

    Are the procedural elements a bit too heavy in Alcatraz? Perhaps for some, although I'm already sufficiently intrigued by the mysteries offered up during these first two episodes that I'm willing to be somewhat lenient. One needs only look back at the first season of Fringe to see how that series started out being far more traditional in format but ended up a mythology-heavy effort that's still blowing fans' minds several seasons on. Given the number of missing prisoners and guards, it's easy to fear that the show could fall back on focusing on the Missing Alcatrazian of the Week, as it does in the first two installments, but there are enough bread crumbs being laid out already that I'm ready to follow them for awhile and see where they're headed. Mind you, it doesn't hurt that an old pro like Neill is in the mix, nor does the fact that he's joined by Robert Forster, who plays Madsen's surrogate uncle and a former Alcatraz guard. The whole thing strikes me as a bit of mysterious and entertaining fun, with the potential for some really dark stuff to go down.moreless
  • Quite good actually

    The first episode of Alcatraz was quite good actually. It offered everything for a fan of mystery and drama. The premise is original and tempting. The story revolves slowly and in moderate way so it will keep you hang up and waiting for the next episode. Sounds familiar? Of course it does. I like the casting, and I've missed Hugo. He was one of my favorite characters on Lost, and I'm glad he's coming back. Many other new faces for me, but with in time I might get used to them. I hope it gets another season, but mostly I hope it won't end just like Lost did.moreless
  • More Fringe and Less Lost Starts Off A Bit Slow, But Has Much Potential.

    Alcatraz, from J.J. Abrams productions, is a new sci-fi drama about the return of the remaining inmates from Alcatraz to the present day. So far, after the 2-part pilot, it seems to be more of a Fringe cousin than a Lost relative. The only thing I think that makes it a Lost relative at all, to this viewer, is the casting of Jorge Garcia as character Diego Soto which is almost spot-on his same persona in Lost with a different name. We have a special "task force" like Fringe and we know a good bit about the overall premise at the start, though we don't know many pertinent facts, like FringeAnd, very unlike Lost. The plot of some of the nastiest killers coming back some 50+ years later, without aging a day, is both intriguing and very "out there", this is definitely cut from the cloth of both of Abrams previous shows.

    Sam Neil returns to series-TV as the head of the mysterious task force which, apparently, has knowledge that this would happen at some point and has been silently waiting. Sarah Jones (reminiscent of a younger Reese Witherspoon anybody?), a new comer to this viewer, plays detective Rebecca Madsen. Jorge Garcia plays a quirky doctorate-level author/comic book store curator, Diego Soto, whose book about the last days of Alcatraz places him as a valued advisor and partner to Madsen as both are drafted into the task force due to their knowledge making them either an asset or a liability in which case they would be "eliminated".

    The pilot centers on the first returning criminal Jack Sylvane. He was so ill-treated by the warden it is no wonder his intentions upon returning is to find and kill the warden. He awakes in the present day apparently without a clue as to how, yet he finds essential items in his jacket pocket which augment his task of finding and killing his warden nemesis. As suspected he is apprehended by our illustrious task force and is incarcerated in some kind of new "double top-secret" underground present day Alcatraz.

    So, how does the pilot fair? Well, it is definitely interesting in concept and Sam Neil and Jorge Garcia give it a certain credibility even though Neil's character is not endearing in any way except in that he seems to possess a hidden knowledge of what it is all about (he ain't sharing that knowledge so he's a bit of an unlikeable enigma). Sarah Jones is very camera friendly and her character has a definite charm if lightweight. All in all, the plot is, mostly, an introduction that seems to be thinly fleshed out demanding further watching. The good is that initial viewers will likely want to watch to see something more being revealed as to the nature of the show's true appeal. It isn't a deep enough hook to insure anything however so the question remains if the show can stand on its own apart from the Abrams connection. The show, unlike Lost and like Fringe, is serialized which should help it since it may not immediately attract the attention of Lost. Fringe started out strong to soon lose a bit of its viewership, but re-gained a strong following as it got better with age (viewer numbers on Fringe are really not as large as they should be as many viewers DVR it or watch in in some other time-shifted format). Hopefully, Alcatraz can get better fast enough to keep it around for a while as it is not quite good enough at the moment, but has much more potential. At this point, as a sci-fi fan, I recommend getting on board and watching it evolve to a, hopefully, more fleshed out and endearing show. I'll rate it a 6.5 to 7.0 with hopes it ratchets up to a solid 8, or so, shortly.

Ken Pogue

Ken Pogue

Old Alan Sylvane, Sr.

Guest Star

Bumper Robinson

Bumper Robinson


Guest Star

Camille Sullivan

Camille Sullivan


Guest Star

Jeffrey Pierce

Jeffrey Pierce

Jack Sylvane

Recurring Role

David Hoflin

David Hoflin

Thomas "Tommy" Madsen

Recurring Role

Leon Rippy

Leon Rippy

Dr. Milton Beauregard

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • The door code to enter New Alcatraz is 6323.

    • Even though the show is set in San Francisco, and some of the pilot was filmed in the city and on Alcatraz itself, the producers of the show opted to film the rest in Vancouver, mainly because of the much more attractive production rebates than California and the city of San Francisco could offer, much to the chagrin of the San Francisco film industry.

    • The case file Hauser shows the gym employee attacked by Sylvane shows his middle initial as "F". On his death certificate, his middle name is Haughton. Also, the case file lists his date of birth as January 25th 1905 (which would have made him 58 in 1963!) while his death certificate says it's (a more believable) June, 1923. Also, the case file lists misconduct reports from McNeil Island dated 1910-1912, which (by the files DOB) would imply he's been incarcerated since he was 5 years old!

    • Lucy Banerjee (showing Detective Madsen and Diego Soto surveillance footage of Sylvane): Meet Jack Sylvane: 85 years young.
      According to his death certificate, Jack Sylvane's date of birth was, June 18, 1923, which would make him closer to 89 years old as of the episode's airdate. It is also made clear this episode is set in the "present day", not 2008.

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Emerson Houser: (to Detective Rebecca Madsen following a huge reveal about her grandfather's status at Alcatraz) If you want to stay and find him you have to prove to me every day that you deserve to be here.
      Dr. Diego Soto: Is anyone else's head exploding right now?

  • NOTES (3)


    • The information in Jack Sylvane's case file shown to the assaulted gym employee by Hauser indicates Jack Sylvane served time at McNeil Island State Penitentiary (in Washington State) from 1910 to 1912 (The dates on the file would be clearly inconsistent with Jack Sylvane's age as one of the "63's"). Also, read from the "Reason for Transfer" section: "...also wishes to call attention to the need for eliminating the insanitary [sic] condition.. from this mans's bird breeding activities here..."

      This is an allusion to real-life prisoner Rober Stroud a/k/a "The Birdman of Alcatraz" in the time of his incarceration (which began in 1909 as well as the location of part of it (McNeil Island). For the record, Stroud actually began keeping birds while in Leavenworth, not McNeil Island.