With the network TV upfronts just days away, we're already starting to see final decisions made on the fate of the many pilots in development. Of course, to make room for the new, underperforming series have to be cut. Earlier today, we learned that Fox had given series orders to three comedy pilots. And tonight, it's been reported that one freshman drama has been renewed for a second season, while two others have been given the ax.
So Alcatraz, much like every other show based on a currently non-functioning American prison, is over. Though if the dramatic ending says anything (beyond the writers secretly tapping into my innermost desires), it’s that FOX still may bring it back in mid-season replacement style.
Am I emotional over “Webb Porter” being the penultimate episode of Alcatraz, which hasn’t been picked up for a second season as of this writing? I am not. I’d be even less emotional if Rebecca Madsen and Diego Soto die in a non-tragic double suicide by the end of next week’s finale.
“Spirituality is for those seeking understanding. Religion is for those seeking reward.” And Alcatraz is for those seeking masochism through fiction. After last week’s pre-emptive NASCAR race, proving FOX is soft on intelligent Monday night programming, the mystery/exercise in futility is back for a two-hour block of schlock. Okay, okay! This is fairly forced badmouthing, as this two-episode combo was probably the best since the first night’s airing.
Seven weeks, and it’s still impossible for me to enjoy Alcatraz. The central storylines are all the same, more or less. The plot twists are more predictable than the outrageously illogical manner in which we arrive at said twists. The main actors are wasted, and the dialogue is waste.
For all of Alcatraz’s faults, from armchair scripting to a reliance on coincidences, Rebecca is the sorest of all hangnailed thumbs. Little of my ire is cast at Sarah Jones for being merely ineffectual, for how does one use thespianism to enhance a clichéd nuance-free void? If I had to describe her personality, I would struggle to arrive at “street smart,” which isn’t quantifiable enough to matter. Soto uses lame elementary comic references, so why can’t Rebecca have had a party-hearty youth or a passion for alchemy?
I think the prison flashbacks work so well because they fit into an idealistic framing that younger generations may have about law and order back then. Perhaps older viewers call bullshit on the flashbacks and think the present day stuff is normal. (You kids and your cell phones and your map tables.) This week, I’m just breaking things in two parts so I can admire and admonish as I please.
Dr. House is going on vacation, while Fox newbie Alcatraz will go on throughout the month of March. Fox made some changes to their plans for both shows today, which may say something about the future of each show, although that’s just conjecture at this point. Certainly it speaks to the success of Alcatraz, which has been bringing in good numbers for Fox.
Before tonight, I could count on two hands and one foot the number of minutes I was unequivocally invested in the…well I was going to say “mysteries of the Island,” but I think J.J. Abrams trademarked that phrase years ago. I can throw the other foot in now, as a few cryptic scenes concerning said mysteries, namely big keys and anti-aging at this point, weave in and out of “Cal Sweeney.”
Three episodes in, Alcatraz splits me right down the middle, just like…a prison hallway. Bad similes aside, “Kit Nelson” both intrigued, with its titular character’s behavior, and bored me, with everyone else’s behavior. This is a very oppressive series overtly lacking genuine mirth and humor. I’m fairly certain the Soto character draws comic books, beyond myriad other accolades, just to balance off all the child murder this show has to offer. Whatcha got against children, Alcatraz?
Theo Rossi’s Sons of Anarchy character Juice had a rough time during the last season of the FX drama series, and from the sound of it, the part he’s set to play in Fox’s Alcatraz won’t exactly be a walk in the park either.
Newly minted nonagenarian Betty White ruled the night on NBC, bringing in solid ratings for her 90th birthday celebration and carrying the network through the rest of the night as well. Meanwhile Alcatraz premiered on Fox to good numbers, tying with Revenge for the second place in the ratings among new dramas for this season in the 18-49 adult group.
Strangely, the idea of escaping from Alcatraz is a romantic notion to many people. We love it when someone conquers the impossible, even if that someone only has a chance to conquer the impossible because he was guilty of being a bank robbing murderer. It showcases those time-honored American values of determination, cunning, and sticking it to the man.
Co-created by Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt, with J.J. Abrams among the executive producers, Alcatraz is sort of a combination of a crime procedural and a Fringe-like mystery-thriller involving long-lost Alcatraz inmates and guards who are somehow resurfacing decades later looking just as they did back in the ’60’s when they were last seen.
Unfortunately, television executives continue to believe (possibly correctly) that the majority of television viewers are mindless sheep who’ll watch anything thrown up on screen. Film sequels? Cross-dressers? Thin mysteries? Spin-offs? From what I’ve seen from the previews, Midseason 2012 has it all. It doesn’t take much more than a trailer and some fairly subjective speculation to realize these new shows are duds.