When you think Alcatraz it brings to mind the infamous names of Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and Robert Stroud “The Birdman of Alcatraz.” It is also a term synonymous with violence, mystery, and the “worst of the worst.” It gives the sense of being unattainable, yet still visible as a majestic island right inside the San Francisco Bay. The lore surrounding Alcatraz has reached such epic proportions, that it has achieved a notoriety of its own. In fact, it still stands today as a reminder that not even an island can truly incarcerate criminals intent on escape.
Building on the infamy and notoriety of the Prison that shares its name, the television series ALCATRAZ offers a riveting spin on what might have happened in 1963. Was the prison closed due budget cuts as propagandized by the government, or did something more sinister and mysterious happen there that required a cover-story in order to allay fears and not arose suspicion? ALCATRAZ tells the tale of how in 1963, everyone on Alcatraz Island vanished without a trace. It offers a mystery that literally transcends time. ALCATRAZ is a mystery story that invites viewers to figure out what happened to the 302 people who vanished and why they are now reappearing one-by-one. Was it a wormhole, cryogenics, or something more sinister? Whatever is behind the disappearance of the 302 guards and prisoners, that is the mystery of ALCATRAZ.
The pilot episode viewers are introduced to Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce), one of the missing prisoners who was thought dead and yet his fingerprints are found at a fresh murder scene. It is as if Jack somehow managed to slip through the cracks of time and reappear present-day San Francisco seeking vengeance without having aged a day. For Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), crime has taken a turn into the Twilight Zone. Yet unfazed by the possibility that wormholes may exist or that perhaps Jack Sylvane was cryogenically frozen until a time when he could be used as a weapon, Rebecca seeks the aid of Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia), the foremost authority on Alcatraz and the prisoners kept there until that fateful day in 1963. Then, as fate would have it, Rebecca’s path crosses with a government agent, Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), an agent with his own personal ties to Alcatraz and a zealous mission to recapture each and every one of the missing escapees. Reluctantly teaming up because time is of the essence, Det. Madsen, Dr. Soto and Emerson Hauser, along with Hauser’s technical aid, Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra), must work together quickly in order to stop Jack’s vicious crime-spree.
Each episode introduces a new escapee and each becomes a piece of the puzzle as to what happened and why. The real questions are: Why now? What purpose have the escapees been returned to us now? And who is behind it? ALCATRAZ is not just about capturing long-lost criminals, it is about unraveling a greater global conspiracy and the ability to bend time itself. Then because every great adventure tale needs a dash of romance, carefully embedded into the over-arcing story is a delicate love story that will be slowly unveiled. ALCATRAZ offers a complex story of revenge, retribution, and redemption. Forget what you know and focus on what you don’t know. Then follow the clues throughout each episode.
While the name J.J. Abrams and the term ‘island’ are synonymous with another TV show that used time-travel as a clever story-telling device, ALCATRAZ is a show that stands on its own. It is not a tale about a mystical island and souls gathering together to move on in the after-life. ALCATRAZ is firmly set in our world and the island merely is the starting point — it is where 302 people disappeared. It is the beginning of the tale, not the end. ALCATRAZ is about the inmates and guards that are reappearing and being used as modern day weapons in a scheme that smacks of government conspiracy.
At a special premiere screening of the first hour of the series at Alcatraz Island, ALCATRAZ tantalized fans, press and crew alike. With the aid of sponsors like Virgin America (who provided transportation to guests from around the country) and Ford (who is offering the “Legends of Alcatraz” online treasure hunt to coincide with the launch of the series, the premiere was an enormous success. After all, it is not every day that one can celebrate a new TV series sharing the same name as the most infamous prison in U.S. history — at that same prison. Celebrating ALCATRAZ at Alcatraz Island, or “The Rock” as it is better known, was the chance of a lifetime. Appearing for the premiere were producers Jack Bender, Jennifer Johnson, and Daniel Pyne (alas, J.J. Abrams was M.I.A.), as well as the stars of the show Sam Neill, Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Parminder Nagra, Jason Butler Harner, Jeffrey Pierce, Robert Forster, Johnny Coyne and Joe Egender. Not missing this event for the world, also in attendance were nearly the entire writing staff and their families. ALCATRAZ at Alcatraz was just too tantalizing an adventure to miss.
The following are video interviews with the cast and producers as they provide insight, scoop and clues about what ALCATRAZ is all about: Executive Producer Jack Bender, Jason Butler Harner, Santiago Cabrera, Parminder Nagra and Jorge Garcia.
Want more photos? Click here for more photos from the ALCATRAZ premiere party.
You can catch the 2-hour series premiere of ALCATRAZ on Monday, January 16th at 8PM on Fox (CityTV on Canada).
Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to TheTVaddict.com. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).