Fox’s twisty-turny, mystery series Alcatraz arrived on the scene with a great deal of fanfare and a big enough audience. But as the weeks went on, the show slid downhill in the ratings, hitting an all-time low for the finale.
While it’s true that cult shows like these often need time to find their audience, the format doesn’t allow for that. Yes, there were weekly stories that wrapped up in an hour, but the over-reaching arc was too hard to follow if you didn’t dutifully watch every episode in the right order.
The whole series was based on the notion that on the day Alcatraz closed its doors in 1963, 300 inmates and the guards disappeared. Now, the inmates are reappearing and in spite of the time difference, they’re each back to their old ways, robbing, kidnapping and murdering as if nothing had changed.
Every episode of Alcatraz combines flashback footage from the 1960’s with present day events. The continual time shift is hard enough to follow, but add in the fact that some characters have aged and others haven’t, it’s even harder to keep track of who did what to whom and when.
Still, Lost and Fringe managed to keep going with complex plots but Alcatraz failed. Perhaps it was because the storytelling simply wasn’t strong enough. After the first few weeks, every episode stated to feel the same and the characters were allowed to do things that made no sense.
Whatever the reason, producers didn’t see it and in the end they drove Alcatraz right up to the edge — and left it there.
The much-anticipated season finale left viewers with more questions than answers and a dim possibility of ever finding out the truth. The show’s executive producer told TV Guide;
We haven’t planned on anything yet, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes. In one way, we feel like the first 13 [episodes] were a marvelous short story and ended where we wanted it to end with tons of questions, but [also] a lot of answers to things that had been bugging people. So, we wrapped some things up, but we deal with others. We play out the Tommy/Rebecca to its natural and tragic conclusion. But if we don’t get picked up, yeah, we’ll have to figure out some other way. Online short stories maybe.
The odds of them getting a pick-up now? About the same as escaping from Alcatraz.
So here’s a call out to all the Alcatraz fans. You’ve shouted your anger on Twitter. You’ve made your feelings known on Facebook. Now it’s time for an all-out Save Our Show campaign.
Everyone who wants to save Alcatraz should send an old key to Fox. Or perhaps you could create an online comic book about what happens to a network exec who doesn’t renew the show?
Get organized and get creative, because like the prisoners on the rock, your time is running out.