The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2012
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 566 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Sam Neil, Jorge Gracia, Sarah Jones, Parminder Nagra, Leon Rippy, Robert Forster, David Hoflin, Jason Butler Harner, Jonny Coyne
Directed by: Jack Bender & Paul A. Edwards
Music by: Michael Giacchino, Andrea Datzman, Chris Tilton
Written by: Various
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 16, 2012
In 1963, all prisoners were transferred from Alcatraz Island Federal Penitentiary. Or so we were told. Now America’s worst criminals – known as the 63s – are returning to the streets of San Francisco to repeat their grisly crimes. It’s up to top-notch Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) and Alcatraz expert Diego “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia) to work with FBI Agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) and Dr. Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra) to learn why the 63s are back and to uncover a much larger, more sinister threat. Get locked into The Complete Series of this suspenseful, mysterious and action-packed drama from executive producer J.J. Abrams (Fringe, Lost).
In general I am pretty open to TV series built around supernatural phenomena that incorporate elements of mystery that require imaginative extension. Unfortunately shows like that tend to have a pretty short life span on network television. Case in point, Alcatraz, a sci-fi, mystery, supernatural, crime thriller hybrid that revolves around 302 inmates/guards that inexplicably vanished from Alcatraz prison in 1963 and have begun mysteriously resurfacing in the present, committing criminal acts. The disappearance was covered up back then and as each of them reappears they have no recollection of what happened or where they have been but seem to be tasked with specific directives that would indicate that someone or something is manipulating them.
Young headstrong San Francisco PD detective Rebecca Madsen is recruited by FBI Agent Emerson Hauser to assist in the secret task force charged with hunting down each of the “63s” which is the code name for the inmates/guards. Rebecca chose a local Alcatraz expert/comic shop owner, “Doc” Soto, to be her partner/profiler. Through a combination of flashbacks and unfolding evidence the details of what went on in Alcatraz leading up the 1963 disappearance as well as the players involved are revealed. As the questions of what, who, where and why play out it’s clear that there is a definitive connection that binds Rebecca and Hauser to the case. The final piece to the puzzle is how?
Each episode is dedicated to the resurfacing of one of the 63s, their criminal act and the task force’s investigation of both their crime and capture. Along the way clues and/or details are uncovered that point to what could be going on. Rebecca and Hauser are integral pieces as are Dr. Lucy Banerjee and Ray Archer, a former Alcatraz prison guard who just so happens to be the man that raised Rebecca after the death of her parents. The show’s premise is on the sketchy side. The idea of 300 plus people vanishing, it being covered up by whomever, and them resurfacing years later without having aged or any recollection of the events that lead them to this point asks a lot of the audience. On the plus side is the supernatural undertone that, for me, piqued my curiosity. The characters aren’t especially deep and the weekly plot gets a little repetitive but as I watched I found myself drawn in by expectations of how the events in the past would correlate to the present.
I wasn’t drawn in by the performances of the primary cast but didn’t mind the various players that portrayed the inmates etc. As the season built toward its conclusion I was pretty much all in hoping to see if my thoughts on its direction were viable and if the payoff would leave me satisfied and hankering for more even though I knew more would never be coming. The answer is more yes than no. Alcatraz turned out to be better than expected but not must see programming that would keep you on the edge of your seat until next week. I would liked to have seen where it was headed had it not been cancelled as I think that a bit more time might have born richer fruit.
Alcatraz the complete series is spread over two BD-50 Blu-ray Discs that come housed in a standard amaray style case (with matching slipcover).
Here is the series episode breakdown:
2. Ernest Cobb
3. Kit Nelson
4. Cal Sweeney
5. Guy Hasting
6. Paxton Petty
7. Johnny McKee
8. The Ames Brothers
9. Sonny Burnett
10. Clarence Montgomery
11. Web Porter
12. Garrett Stillman
13. Tommy Madsen
The show contains violence and thematic content that would be inappropriate for young viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Alcatraz comes to Blu-ray from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 13 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.1 Mbps.
This high definition video presentation offers clear, refined images that boast a relatively subdued color palette that is rarely eye catching but conveys the period specific (present/1960s) elements with aplomb. The rendering of fine detail can range from exquisite to moderate. This leaves certain long range and mid level shots with less dimensionality but not to the point of appearing soft. Black levels fluctuate however contrast is stable which when coupled along with the prevailing use of low level lighting mates well with the visual style of the presentation. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts/anomalies.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound keeps pace with the video and is quite good. Dynamics are robust and highs are crisp without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with defining tonal expression and room penetrating depth through the center channel. The front soundstage is diffused with excellent separation and clearly articulated detail. The presentation makes ample use of the entire surround platform. At times it opens up quite nicely to create an involving surround mix containing a mix of directional and ambient sounds. Bass response adequately supports the source elements and provides an appreciably punchy low end.
- (HD) 10 deleted scenes
- (HD) Alcatraz: Island of intrigue – 10 minute featurette
- (HD) Gag reel – 3 minutes
Alcatraz, a TV sci-fi, mystery, supernatural, crime thriller hybrid that revolves around 302 inmates/guards that inexplicably vanished from Alcatraz prison in 1963 and have begun mysteriously resurfacing in the present, committing criminal acts. The weekly plot revolves around a team of investigators trying to figure out what occurred, where the missing inmates/guards have been, and who or what is behind it all.
The sketchy premise is a bit out there and the primary cast isn’t especially engaging but there is merit to be found in the development of the plot as it builds throughout. Unfortunately the series has been cancelled which left me wondering about what might have been. The complete series comes to Blu-ray featuring gratifying audio/video quality and a barebones supplemental offering that contains a handful of deleted scenes, a bland featurette, and a short gag reel. Alcatraz the complete series isn’t worth a blind purchase but if you can rent it or catch it On Demand you might enjoy it enough to consider picking this set up for the right price.
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