Breaking Into <em>Alcatraz:</em> Set Visit & Pilot Review Breaking Into <em>Alcatraz:</em> Set Visit & Pilot Review
Craig Byrne talks about his visit to the set of Alcatraz and reviews the series pilot. Breaking Into <em>Alcatraz:</em> Set Visit & Pilot Review

Several months after it was first announced at the FOX Upfronts for the 2011-2012 season, Alcatraz finally hits the air tonight, January 16, with a two-hour “event” comprising of the series pilot and the second episode, “Ernest Cobb.”

Back in October, I had the opportunity alongside other journalists to visit the Vancouver, BC sets of Alcatraz. It was a bit exciting to me, and also a strange feeling – the very soundstage that houses Emerson Hauser’s computer lab was the same one where we stood in Erica Evans’ FBI office on V just a year ago. It amazes me how a stage space can be transformed in such a way.

The extremely detailed computer lab wasn’t my favorite set, however. The highlight of the Alcatraz studio is definitely the cell block – designed meticulously to look as accurate as possible. I’ve never been to the real Alcatraz but I’ve seen photos, and it’s uncanny how on-model this happened to be.

The show itself also lands on my “exciting” list. There’s mystery (of course!) as criminals from the past are showing up today, and we follow certain characters as they try to find out why. The previously-mentioned Emerson Hauser is one of the mysteries of the show – why does he care so much? Those answers may come pretty fast… but also, the other cast members – which include Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Robert Forster, and others – are quite interesting.

If I were to compare the Alcatraz pilot to anything – all I have to work off of is the pilot – I’d probably liken it to early Fringe, except for that I actually like Jones and Garcia more than I liked Anna Torv and Pacey when I saw that pilot (I later came to appreciate Torv and Jackson as the series went on, but in the pilot, I wasn’t feeling them). Sam Neill’s Emerson Hauser isn’t quite yet on the awesome level as John Noble’s Walter, but give him time…. not many characters and actors are as great as John Noble is as Walter. There’s a moment at the end of the first hour that makes Hauser VERY intriguing.

I think Alcatraz is a show where the audience could go either way – I could see people becoming obsessed and intrigued, LOST style… or I could see the audience skipping out. Hopefully it’s the former.

The show also lends itself to good guest stars, playing Alcatraz felons of times past. The pilot has a character named Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) as the antagonist. If the show keeps having guests of this quality, they’ll definitely be in good shape.

I like TV that makes me think. Once Upon A Time leaves me every week wondering what will happen next to my favorite characters. Alcatraz gives me that same feeling – afterward, I wonder what’s going to happen next, and I wonder about the hows and whys of it all. That’s good TV, right?

Please come by the KSiteTV Alcatraz Forum to come talk about it tonight. Here are a few extras you might also enjoy:

Alcatraz ForumForum Countdown/LIVE Episode ThreadImage GalleryEpisode DescriptionJorge Garcia InterviewSarah Jones InterviewAlcatraz at KSiteTV
Disclaimer: Craig Byrne’s trip to Vancouver and the Alcatraz set was furnished by Warner Bros. Television.


Craig Byrne, Editor-In-Chief

KSiteTV Editor-In-Chief Craig Byrne has been writing about TV on the internet since 1995. He is also the author of several published books, including Smallville: The Visual Guide and the show's Official Companions for Seasons 4-7.