Alcatraz (TV series)

Last updated

Created by
Theme music composer J. J. Abrams
Composers Michael Giacchino
Chris Tilton
Andrea Datzman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13
Executive producers
ProducersAlison Balian
Robert Hull
Athena Wickham
Robert M. Williams, Jr.
Production locations Riverview Hospital, Coquitlam, British Columbia / Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada / San Francisco, United States (pilot)
CinematographyStephen McNutt
David Stockton
Running time43 minutes
Production companies
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network Fox
Original releaseJanuary 16 
March 26, 2012 (2012-03-26)
External links

Alcatraz is an American television series created by Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt, and produced by J. J. Abrams and Bad Robot Productions. The series premiered on Fox on January 16, 2012, as a mid-season replacement. [1] Switching between eras, the series focuses on the Alcatraz prison, which was shut down in 1963 due to unsafe conditions for its prisoners and guards. The show's premise is that both the prisoners and the guards disappeared in 1963 and have abruptly reappeared in modern-day San Francisco, where they are being tracked down by a government agency, to prevent them from committing further crimes while also determining the reasons for their return. The series starred Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill, and Parminder Nagra. [2]


On May 9, 2012, Fox canceled the series after one season. [3]

Plot summary

On March 21, 1963, 256 inmates and 46 guards disappeared from the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary without a trace. To cover up the disappearance, the government invented a cover story about the prison being closed due to unsafe conditions, and officially reported that the inmates had been transferred. However, federal agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), a young San Francisco police officer tasked with transferring inmates to the island in 1963, is one of the first to discover that the inmates are actually missing and not transferred. In present-day San Francisco, the "63s" (as the missing inmates and guards are called) begin returning, one by one. Strangely, they have not aged at all, and they have no clues about their missing time or their whereabouts during their missing years; however, they appear to be returning with compulsions to find certain objects and to continue their criminal habits. Even more strangely, the government has been expecting their return, and Hauser now runs a secret government unit dedicated to finding the returning prisoners; this unit was set up long ago in anticipation of the prisoners' returns. (The cellblock at this unit has the same configuration as Alcatraz' distinctive two-level layout.) To help track down the returning prisoners and capture them, Hauser enlists police detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) and Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia), a published expert on the history of Alcatraz and its inmates.

Opening: (Narrated by Sam Neill in every episode)

"On March 21, 1963, Alcatraz officially closed. All the prisoners were transferred off the island. Only, that's not what happened. Not at all."

Cast and characters



Inmates (in order of appearance)

There were around 302 people on Alcatraz when they all mysteriously vanished, with fewer than 50 of these being prison staff; the other 250+, referred to by Hauser as the '63s, remain some of America's worst recorded criminals. Each one has demonstrated a ruthless skill in their chosen crime fields of expertise and no compunctions about picking up where they left off. Various inmates underwent mysterious experiments involving their blood being extracted, treated with an unidentified process, and then returned to them, those inmates who underwent this procedure possessing a degree of accelerated healing that allows them to recover from wounds in far less time than would normally be expected.



No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
U.S. viewers
1"Pilot" Danny Cannon Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt & Elizabeth Sarnoff January 16, 2012 (2012-01-16)29679010.05 [4]
Years after every prisoner on Alcatraz mysteriously vanished, FBI Agent Emerson Hauser and Detective Rebecca Madsen are drawn into the case of Jack Sylvane, who is on a killing spree. They later find out that Sylvane was in fact one of the inmates in the prison. Joined by Alcatraz expert "Doc" Soto, Hauser and Madsen race to stop Sylvane and solve the mystery of Alcatraz. Hauser takes Sylvane to a prison facility in the woods much like Alcatraz.
2"Ernest Cobb" Jack Bender Alison BalianJanuary 16, 2012 (2012-01-16)2J605210.05 [4]
Ernest Cobb (Joe Egender), another Alcatraz prisoner, is now killing people using a sniper rifle. Madsen and Hauser try to stop him before he kills more, forcing them to try and deduce the motivation for his murder sprees. Lucy is shot by Cobb and is comatose. Lucy is also revealed to be working as a doctor in the 1960s as she is introduced to Cobb when he was in Alcatraz.
3"Kit Nelson"Jack Bender Jennifer Johnson January 23, 2012 (2012-01-23)2J60539.03 [5]
A child killer, who would kidnap his victims and return their bodies home, reappears from the past, spurring a manhunt. Dr. Soto proves his worth by coming up with the clues to the killer's capture. Also, a secret from Dr. Soto's past is revealed.
4"Cal Sweeney" Brad Anderson Robert Hull January 30, 2012 (2012-01-30)2J60558.44 [6]
A bank robber from the past causes mayhem in the present and puts Rebecca in a difficult position as she has to work out how to get him out of the bank without revealing the existence of the 63s.
5"Guy Hastings" Charles Beeson Steven Lilien & Bryan WynbrandtFebruary 6, 2012 (2012-02-06)2J60566.91 [7]
A guard from Alcatraz appears- acting in a far more violent manner than the team would have expected- and encounters Ray, whom Rebecca suspects the guard may be using to track down her grandfather. Ray is revealed to be Rebecca's uncle.
6"Paxton Petty"Paul EdwardsStory by: Jennifer Johnson
Teleplay by: Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt & Robert Hull
February 13, 2012 (2012-02-13)2J60586.24 [8]
A military land mine specialist resurfaces and plants bombs throughout the city. Rebecca, Soto and Hauser follow a series of clues to find his next targeted location. Hauser learns that Lucy might not wake up from her coma, so he removes her from the hospital to be fixed by Dr. Beauregard.
7"Johnny McKee" Brad Turner Toni Graphia February 20, 2012 (2012-02-20)2J60545.98 [9]
Johnny McKee, another former Alcatraz prisoner, returns and begins to poison the people of San Francisco, particularly men who behave similarly to grade-school bullies.
8"The Ames Brothers" Nick Copus Robert HullMarch 5, 2012 (2012-03-05)2J60595.82 [10]
When brothers Herman and Pinky Ames, who almost escaped in 1961, return to modern times, Soto gets caught and kidnapped by the ultra-violent duo as they follow a map in the hunt for a certain treasure, resulting in a tense confrontation in Alcatraz itself.
9"Sonny Burnett"Paul EdwardsStory by: Toni Graphia
Teleplay by: Toni Graphia & Robert Hull
March 5, 2012 (2012-03-05)2J60605.47 [10]
Sonny Burnett, sent to 1960 Alcatraz for kidnapping wealthy people and holding them for outrageous ransoms, appears in the present, seeking revenge from Warden Tiller's treatment of him in the past. Also, the blood taken from the 1963 prisoners has a modern connection. The link between Rebecca, Uncle Ray, and Tommy is further explored.
10"Clarence Montgomery"Jack BenderLeigh Dana JacksonMarch 12, 2012 (2012-03-12)2J60575.07 [11]
After a woman is found dead on a golf course, killed in a similar manner to the murdered girlfriend of former Alcatraz inmate Clarence Montgomery, the team begins to suspect that the innocent Montgomery, who was falsely accused of and imprisoned for murdering his girlfriend, has returned, and is now committing crimes similar to that which he was imprisoned for.
11"Webb Porter"Jack BenderSteven Lilien & Bryan WynbrandtMarch 19, 2012 (2012-03-19)2J60615.04 [12]
Sent to Alcatraz for killing his mother, who tried to drown him when he was younger, violin-playing former inmate Webb Porter resurfaces. He willingly gives blood to Lucy, allowing her to wake from her coma.
12"Garrett Stillman" Eagle Egilsson Leigh Dana Jackson & Coleman HerbertMarch 26, 2012 (2012-03-26)2J60624.78 [13]
Doc and Rebecca close in on a man who may be the key to revealing the secrets behind all the returning criminals. Meanwhile, Hauser makes a discovery beneath the halls of Alcatraz that reveals more of the truth.
13"Tommy Madsen" Aaron Lipstadt Daniel Pyne & Jennifer JohnsonMarch 26, 2012 (2012-03-26)2J60634.75 [13]
Rebecca finds the man who killed her partner. The episode includes a recreation of the chase scene in Bullitt . The series ends in a cliffhanger: Rebecca is stabbed by Tommy, flatlines in a hospital and is pronounced dead. Hauser and Lucy make a shocking discovery.


The climactic sniper scene in the second episode was filmed atop the Toronto-Dominion Bank Building in Vancouver. Toronto Dominion Bank Building Vancouver 2011.jpg
The climactic sniper scene in the second episode was filmed atop the Toronto-Dominion Bank Building in Vancouver.

In November 2011, Elizabeth Sarnoff, co-creator of the series, stepped down as executive producer. She remained as an "executive consultant". [14]

The show was filmed in Vancouver and San Francisco. Scenes from the second episode prominently feature Vancouver's Toronto-Dominion Bank and Vancouver Film School, as well as backdrops of the port facilities.[ citation needed ]

Connection to the actual prison

The series renewed the public's interest in the actual Alcatraz prison, so much so that the National Park Service had to install warning signs for its public tours. Fans of the TV series broke away from tours in an attempt to find the "nerve center" that is shown underneath the prison on the show. The signs state: "The TV show Alcatraz is fictional, many areas it depicts are not real. Closed areas protect you, historic structures and nesting birds." [15]

International distribution

RegionChannelPremiere dateRef.
Arab World Green.svg Arab world MBC Action January 19, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina Warner Channel January 23, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia Armenia 1 January 8, 2014[ citation needed ]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Nine Network February 13, 2012 [16]
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium VIER and RTBF March 26, 2012 [17]
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil Warner Channel, SBT January 23, 2012; December 9, 2012[ citation needed ] [18]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada (English) City January 16, 2012 [19]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Flag of Quebec.svg  Quebec (French) Ztélé January 30, 2013 [20]
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark Kanal 5 March 11, 2012 [21]
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia Kanal 2 November 27, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland Sub September 2, 2012 [22]
Flag of France.svg  France NT1 January 12, 2013 [23]
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany RTL Nitro September 19, 2012 [24]
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece Star Channel September 1, 2016
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong TVB Pearl September 18, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary Cool June 17, 2013
Flag of India.svg  India Star World November 10, 2012 [25]
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland Watch and RTÉ March 13, 2012 [26]
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel HOT March 2012 [27]
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Premium Crime January 30, 2012[ citation needed ]
Latin America (orthographic projection).svg Latin America, except Argentina, Brazil Warner Channel January 22, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands Net 5 March 16, 2013 [28]
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand TV One December 5, 2012 [29]
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway TVNorge February 9, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan Star World November 10, 2012 [25]
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland Platforma n VODFebruary 6, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines CHASE on BEAM 31 February 18, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal RTP2 March 16, 2012 [30]
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania Jurnal TV May 3, 2014[ citation needed ]
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia TV-3 (Russia) July 5, 2013 [31]
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia Markíza June 30, 2013 [32] [33]
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa M-Net and M-Net HD May 29, 2012 [34]
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain TNT (pay)January 17, 2012[ citation needed ]
La Sexta (free)February 8, 2012 [35]
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden TV4 April 9, 2012 [36]
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand True Series June 17, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey DiziMax January 21, 2012[ citation needed ]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Watch March 13, 2012 [26]

Home video release

Warner Home Video released the entire series in DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats on October 16, 2012. Both the three-disc DVD and two-disc Blu-ray sets featured deleted scenes, a gag reel, the "Alcatraz: Island of Intrigue" featurette of the cast and crew, and a 6-page full-color collectible booklet. The United States Blu-ray version also featured digital UltraViolet versions of each episode. [37] [38]


Jorge Garcia, Sarah Jones and Parminder Nagra at WonderCon 2012 in promotion of Alcatraz. Jorge Garcia, Sarah Jones & Parminder Nagra by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Jorge Garcia, Sarah Jones and Parminder Nagra at WonderCon 2012 in promotion of Alcatraz.

In June 2011, Alcatraz was one of eight honorees in the Most Exciting New Series category at the 1st Critics' Choice Television Awards, elected by journalists who had seen the pilots. [39] It has an aggregate score of 63/100 on Metacritic, denoting "generally favorable reviews". [40] Newsday 's Verne Gay liked the series, but stated "'Traz' shares some of the DNA of The 4400 (of all shows) with a strand or two stripped from the genetic code of FlashForward . Love all these aforementioned worthies." [41] Robert Bianco of USA Today wrote: "Alcatraz is easy enough to follow, with twists and surprises that are enjoyable and not enervating. But you still may leave it wondering how long it will be before there are eight timelines and six universes." [42] New York 's Matt Zoller Seitz panned the series, saying, "The characters are so TV cute (and in some cases TV pretty) and the storytelling so mechanical, that I couldn't give myself over to it either way." [43]

The series opened with over 10 million U.S. viewers, but for the season finale, it had decreased to 4.75 million U.S viewers, the series' lowest viewership. [4] [13] In the UK, the pilot episode debuted on March 15, 2012, with 496,000 viewers, marking UKTV's Watch channel's highest debut for the time-slot since 2011's Dynamo: Magician Impossible . [44]

U.S. ratings

SeasonEpisodesTimeslot (ET/PT)PremieredEndedTV seasonRankViewers
(in millions)
(in millions)
(in millions)
113Monday 9:00 PMJanuary 16, 201210.05 [4] March 26, 20124.75 [13] 2011–12 #469.56 [45]


In 2011, the series was honored, along with seven others, with the Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series. [46]

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