Alcatraz

 
Dark, supernatural drama with strong violence, some humor.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A small group of protagonists stands up against a shadowy, evil organization in an attempt to protect others and serve the greater good. But the show's tone is dark, and there's the sense that evil lurks everwhere.

Positive role models

All of the protagonists stand out as positive role models with a clear sense of good and bad. One of the main characters is a smart, creative doctor who has clearly used many years of study toward becoming accomplished in his chosen field.

Violence

Frequent scenes of both hand-to-hand and gun violence. Many murders, and several of the shootings feature clear, explicit gore. Overall, there's a generally ominous tone.

Sex

Occasional flirting and mildly suggestive dialogue.

Language

Occasional use of language like "damn," "hell" and "ass."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Sequences taking place in the 1960s (when the prison was still active) occasionally feature characters smoking or drinking, which reflects typical behavior of that era. One of the modern-day supporting characters owns a bar, and scenes occasionally take place there, with characters engaging in social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this dark crime drama has significant supernatural elements and occasional moments of suspense that will definitely frighten younger viewers. In addition, the level of violence is sometimes heavy and includes weapon use (shootings, etc.) and occasional scenes of explicit blood and/or gore. Language is relatively sparse but does include "ass," "hell," and "damn."

What's the story?

Taking its name from the infamous island prison near San Francisco, ALCATRAZ centers around a massive mystery: How did more than 300 prisoners and guards disappear from the facility just before its closing in the 1960s? What happened to these men, and why are they now appearing again 50 years later, seemingly unaged? After following a seemingly routine murder case, Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) is recruited by the enigmatic Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) to help track down and investigate these missing people, who have begun appearing out of nowhere back in the prison they once called home.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Fans of Lost who are still looking for a series to fill its void might find something appealing in J.J. Abrams' dark police mystery drama. Alcatraz has the vibe down -- the pulse-pounding music, the moments of surprise and suspense, the enigmatic figure of authority who seems to know far more than he's letting on. (Plus, Lost's Hurley -- Jorge Garcia -- is one of the show's stars.)

On Alcatraz, the central conceit borders on the ludicrous: 300 criminals and guards disappear from the prison in the 1960s, but no one knows how or why, and now they're coming back unaged and ready to be evil again. It's like elements were drawn from a fish bowl and glued together on a sheet of paper. What makes Alcatraz watchable are the occasional flashes of wit in the scripting and some classic scenery-chewing from Neill, a longtime master at sideways glances that imply more than you can ever hope to understand.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Alcatraz's violence. Does it aid or detract from the story?

  • Do you expect all mysteries to be resolved? Or is there room to leave audiences guessing even after a show ends?

TV details

Cast:Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill, Sarah Jones
Network:Fox
Genre:Drama
Topics:Adventures
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of Alcatraz was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byGoolsfold January 19, 2012
age 15+
 

Good but too violent

Lots of bloody, gory, violence. Probably too much for people under 15.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byos98 January 17, 2012
age 13+
 

An interesting and thought provoking show

This show is an interesting show that makes you think unlike a lot of television. Although there is some violence and blood it is not as bad as many shows and movies out there. While violence and blood is shown it is not gory. The main guy who owns a comic shop is a really smart person who has a PHD in History and has wrote books on Alcatraz and is a specialist on Abraham Lincoln, I think he is a great role model because he doesn't use violence to solve problems. So far there are no inappropriate scenes and there only 1 or 2 inappropriate comments that are over right after they are said.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byMovieReviewGuy January 28, 2012
age 14+
 

Good for 14+, Pause for 13

I think the CommonSense content summary above is pretty inaccurate. There is plenty of violence, no doubt, and a fair amount of blood. However, nothing takes it over the top for a mature 13-14 year-old kid. It really is the same amount of violence portrayed in various action movies (i.e. Casino Royale, Bourne Identity). In this show, it is better, because the violence is portrayed as what it really is: something atrocious, malicious, and terrible, rather than something done by a few careless bad*sses who work for the government, like James Bond. There is more language than the above summary lists; *ss, d*mn, h*ll, d*ck, and SOB are all used. There are also a few positive messages about how violence is very bad, and the main characters are very good people who work for the common good. The show is off to a good start; it could get better or worse (but hopefully better!). As a final note, there are violent themes; all the escaped inmates are serial killers, child kidnappers, robbers, etc.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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