Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of Disbelief: Alcatraz

Suspension of Disbelief is a weekly feature, in which we review movies, books, TV shows, and other popular culture for the skeptical teen.

A new series hit the TV world recently – Alcatraz. Last night was the 6th episode of the series. I was mostly excited for Sam Neill in one of the leading roles (who I still refer to as “the dinosaur man” in almost all instances) and thus was pleasantly surprised to find myself totally digging the whole series.

Genre: Sci-fi/Crime Thriller
Produced by: The amazing JJ Abrams
Starring: the guy from Lost (Jorge Garcia), Sarah Jones and The Dinosaur Man!

Half supernatural, half crime/mystery Alcatraz is totally captivating. It is based on the premise that in the 60’s the prison of Alcatraz was closed and the prisoners, instead of being transferred as the public had been told they are popping up all over the present day with stories of their own. Rebecca is recruited by the Dinosaur Man to help him find each of the individual inmates. The Dinosaur Man has some personal interest in getting Rebecca involved as it seems like her grandfather is at the center of all this madness, but we’re not really sure how yet.

So, naturally…each episode follows the leads on one of the missing inmates. There have been some pretty screwed up stories already… like one guy that kills little boys to relive himself killing his little brother (messed. up.) but there have also been some interesting twists – like an episode focused on snagging one of the guards from 1963 that has emerged from the past.

Underneath it all there is something “else” going on. What is the dinosaur man doing with his group of science-like people all looking at graphs and maps and timelines? What is it that they are trying to figure out? Where were all the inmates when they went back in time? Why is the grandfather so key in all of this and why are they draining so much of his blood? WHAT’S GOING ON!?

What’s good:

  1. It’s really fun to watch. The individual stories of each episode make them fresh to be engaged with, but the underneath story makes sure you don’t want to miss an episode. For example: I am an avid Castle watcher, but I could easily miss an episode of Castle and likely not miss a second of Kate and Castle’s boring-not-going-anywhere love story. This one is a bit different… they are revealing small bits of the larger mystery in each episode… so you do miss some important stuff if you skip one or two.
  2. The Dinosaur Man’s character is really entertaining. He’s a bit of a jerk and is very snippy with Rebecca and her sidekick.
  3. The individual stories of the inmates are actually quite interesting. I’m actually a bit of a fan of crime-tv and they do it really well.
  4. The overall storyline of all these people sort of disappearing and reappearing is really tantalizing. I find myself very interested in what is going on and yearning to know more about all this mysterious stuff that is happening.

Things going a bit wrong:

  1. Typical hotty girl being teamed up with a sort of weird sidekick. I keep getting reminded of Castle (except that everytime I see Nathan Fillion my heart aches from the idea that I’ll never be his wife). This duo is getting a bit overdone. I love that women are placed in kickass positions on TV all the time now, but I’m just getting a little sick of the hot, tough, unfeminine character…
  2. The pool of bad guys is pretty limited… isn’t it? They are basically limited to the inmates – unless the mystery story reveals some other bad guys, which could be interesting.
  3. It is a bit “Lost”-like… and I didn’t love Lost after the first couple of seasons because it just got a little too… freaky and mystical. I like that as Alcatraz stands now it is sci-fi and cool, but I am seriously worried it’s going to take a Lost turn and get totally ridiculous.
  4. I find it weird that they don’t have to report to anyone about what’s going on… or maybe they do. But there are murders and everyone seems fine with just letting the Dinosaur Man take over and not tell anyone that they’ve closed the case… so it must go all the way to the top??? Or… it’s a weird loophole in the story.
  5. They do the crime-tv thing well, but I wish it was a bit more convoluted in each of the individual stories …like Castle (I know, I just love the show, okay?)

I’ll give it 4 Sam Neill Heads out of 5, but I have to say that that is slowly declining (much like it’s viewership). So hopefully it picks back up and doesn’t  get too lost (har har har! Pun!) on us.

Image Cred: Fanpop and Sequel Buzz

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Katie is a graduate student from Canada studying the environment and systems theory. She also loves dinosaurs and baking cupcakes. Follow her on twitter @katiekish


  1. February 15, 2012 at 6:59 am —

    Heads up – Looks like you have an editing error in the first paragraph after the photo.

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