{2jtab: Movie Review}

Alcatraz: The Complete Series - Blu-ray Review


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3 Stars

Fox Network is notorious for killing promising shows without giving them a fair shake.  Alcatraz, produced by J.J. Abrams, came in as a mid-season replacement in January 2012 and lasted for a whopping 13 episodes before retiring for the summer.  The exciting cliffhanger it left its fans with smarts a bit as Fox, in all their Arrested Development wisdom, did not see fit to pick it up for a full run this year.  Of course, that didn’t stop Warner Bros from releasing Alcatraz: The Complete Series on blu-ray last week for its fans to celebrate its brief run with (and make whatever final profit from the show they can).

This series was founded on an incredibly mysterious premise that dealt with the sudden reappearance of 302 Alcatraz inmates in the present day.  They were last seen in the year 1963 and have not aged at all since their disappearance.  A team of three agents, San Francisco Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), herself connected to “the ’63?s” through her grandfather (Robert Forster), a psychiatrist and Alcatraz expert, Dr. “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia), and the mysterious former Alcatraz guard, agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), are assembled to hunt down the returning inmates, known as the ’63?s, while more secrets about the island and the phenomenon are revealed.

The mysterious drama of Alcatraz is peppered with a nice chemistry between Jones and Garcia as they decide whether or not they can trust the suddenly violent and always unpredictable expert that guides them along their way.  The series quickly expands on the one-prisoner-a-week format and included tidbits of background information on some of the darker characters inside the prison (in flashbacks to 1963) that opened the story up for a darkly entertaining look at the famous prison and its isolated location.  There is a total “What If?” vibe the stories tease viewers with.  And, as a viewer of its original broadcast, I remember thinking that it was a nice change…while it lasted.

Maybe the reason the show was cancelled has more to do with Lost fatigue than anything else.  Maybe viewers were tired of mysteries.  Maybe they didn’t want to get involved in another flashback-oriented show that mixed timelines frequently in an effort to present an ambitious mystery.  Either way, it’s a sad fact that Alcatraz received its all too sudden death penalty without a pardon.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Alcatraz: The Complete Series - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: TV14. This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
574 mins.
: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt
Sarah Jones; Jorge Garcia; Jonny Coyne; Parminder Nagra; Sam Neill
Genre: TV | Action | Crime
302 Vanished. 3 Must Find Them.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Something terrible is going to happen here."
Warner Bros.
Release Date:
January 16, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 16, 2012

Synopsis: In 1963, all the prisoners and guards mysteriously disappear from Alcatraz. In the present day, they resurface and a secret agency are tasked with re-capturing them.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Alcatraz: The Complete Series - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

2 stars

Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 16, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Dutch, Korean, Norwegian, Swedish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (2 BDs); UV digital copy
Region Encoding: A

Alcatraz carries out its 13 episode long sentence on Blu-ray with its whole season squeezed onto two discs with a middle to low bitrate AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encode. While nicely detailed with vivid colors and strong details, the release could have looked better with more breathing room. Maybe three discs? Fine detail is solid, but most scenes are not quite as sharp as they could have been. Black levels are strong for this gloomily lit series. Shadows are strong but not without a slight crush. Even if it isn’t perfect, the release is still stronger than the appearance of its original broadcast. The atmospheric soundtrack is presented here in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Dialogue is clear and the immersive sound effects are strong for each episode.



  • None

Special Features:

Ugh.  We’ve deposited, there’s just little return.  No writers wrap-up on how the show could have ended.  No nothing.  Just as this series is a throwaway, so too are these filler supplements.  You get ten deleted (and very short) scenes, a featurette with the cast pontificating on the mystique of the actual Alcatraz and a silly gag reel.

  • Ten Deleted Scenes (17 min)
  • Alcatraz: Island of Intrigue (11 min)
  • Gag Reel (3 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}