Last week, I wrote that “Alcatraz” “may have hit its stride.” Well, I was wrong. Five episodes down in “Alcatraz’s” 13-episode order, and we still haven’t gotten anywhere. “Guy Hastings” was another dull episode that makes “Alcatraz” seem like just another mediocre police procedural.
“Guy Hastings” highlights “Alcatraz’s” poor plot structure. I can see right through the sci-fi nonsense that the advertisements sell the show as. In reality, “Alcatraz” is three quarters average cop drama, one quarter intriguing mysterious premise. It’s that latter quarter that I want to see, but it’s also that latter quarter I so often fail to find in this show.
“Alcatraz” needs one thing desperately: better writing. “Guy Hastings” reminded me of “Kit Nelson” in its amateurish style. This time, we focus on a guard played by Jim Parrack, best known as Hoyt on “True Blood.” Guy Hastings is a good guy, but he’s put up to doing some bad things by some bad people and thus he gets the same treatment as the criminal characters, who are now dubbed the “63s” by Madsen and Hauser. And based on that description, you probably know where Hastings ends up in the third act—right to futuristic Alcatraz, of course! Just as what happens in every episode!
At least the second act of “Guy Hastings” tried to give some answers. The problem though is that the answers just end up asking more and more questions. When Ray (Robert Forster) asks Hastings how he got to 2011, he responds with a protracted speech equivalent to saying, “I just woke up here.” All right, and then what? Why is it just so hard for this show to give us answers or, for that matter, create interesting questions?
Although I do have a question that I’m certainly interested in knowing the answer to: What is Forster doing on a show like this? “Alcatraz” is not worth his talent.
There are so many more interesting things in this world than watching “Alcatraz.” It’s not going anywhere in the long run, contrary to my initial thoughts on the first two episodes, and it certainly isn’t fixing its problems. “Alcatraz” has gotten decent ratings so far, and I think that speaks to the nature of current network television. If people are willing to settle for something so middling in quality as “Alcatraz,” it’s time to start making better television.
On the bright side, one of the season’s best new shows, “Smash,” comes on immediately following “Alcatraz” on NBC. And if you’re looking for better mythology, my guess is that ABC’s “The River” could provide some pretty good thrills. But if you’re looking for decent writing or something worth sticking with for a while, don’t look here. I think it’s time to lay “Alcatraz” to rest, because this show isn’t worth anybody’s time.
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.