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Alcatraz: "Guy Hastings" (Season 1, Episode 5)

So here’s the deal—this episode did not leave me cynical about the worth of human existence. It’s ridiculous and improbable, yes. But it didn’t fill me with disgust. They finally broke their pattern, and the results were downright tolerable. We learned more this episode than we’ve learned in all the previous four combined.

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Alcatraz: "Cal Sweeney" (Season 1, Episode 4)

So much like our criminals of the week, Alcatraz now has an established MO. We start with a criminal perpetrating his particular criminal shtick in lurid detail. Then we go to the credits. Then we proceed with a most unholy trinity of crisscross story structure: (1) criminal goes about his spree, (2) Madsen and Soto track him, and (3) we see criminal’s flashback story at Alcatraz. Spice with obligatory sadism and end with the arrest, followed by a final minute hinting at some deep mystery. The narrative spine, such as it is, seems to be the general grumpiness of Sam Neil.

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EPISODE REVIEW: Alcatraz (Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2)

J.J. Abrams fans, I’m sorry—forget Lost. The invincible hordes of the crime procedural continue their advance across genre and time alike, building toward that glorious day when the entire Fall schedule will be a Maoist paradise of CSI conformity. And you will bloody well like it you reactionary literatis since there won’t be anything else to watch. [We just won’t televise any of Ron Moore’s desperate attempts at a procedural, because even soulless network hacks are still pissed about the last season of Battlestar Galactica.]

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