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Alcatraz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Alcatraz, the twentieth-century penitentiary in San Francisco for infamous and recalcitrant felons, was a prison renowned for its intolerant, merciless guards and wardens. “The Rock” was opened in 1934 and closed in 1963 because of financial problems. Prisoners were sent to other reformatories, where some still live today. But what if that had not happened? What if, after the closing of the prison, 65 inmates were taken to a clandestine area and forced to take part in a classified government project? What if, after 51 years, the 65 jailbirds were the same age that they were in 1963? In Fox's “Alcatraz,” these “what ifs” are the reality.

This crime-drama mystery series, set in 2012, follows homicide detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) and her ebullient partner, the Alcatraz historian Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia), as they track down the 65 ex-prisoners who have not aged. Detective Madsen and Doc collaborate with a surreptitious government branch to re-imprison the inmates, who include a deranged misogynist who strings his violin bow with his female victims' hair and a man who was innocent when he was arrested but is now a serial killer.

At times, the show is unnerving, but the unanswered questions kept me watching. Why, after four decades, have the convicts reappeared? Where have they been? How have they not aged?

With its stellar cast of Sam Neill and Jorge Garcia, among others, and with acclaimed writers – including Elizabeth Sarnoff, the erstwhile writer of the much-admired “Lost” – the series should have been able to carry itself. However, “Alcatraz” was canceled after just one season due to low ratings, and viewers' questions were never resolved. The last episode ended with a cliffhanger!

I have mixed emotions about the show. “Alcatraz” did have a superb story line, and could have gone in innumerable directions. I would recommend this show's single season to TV watchers who don't mind a few loose ends. For those like me who rarely find a good show to watch and, when they do, would like all their inquiries answered, I say, “Halt! Do not press play on your remote or watch this show online. Do not even read the season summary! Do not do anything that will get you the least bit interested in this show; spare yourself the disappointment.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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