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It is perhaps telling that one of the production companies involved in the new American TV series Alcatraz was Bad Robot Productions in a plot that highlights a group of inmates who vanished from the the island prison 50 years ago then suddenly reappeared this year.
Last month we wrote a spoof story, Prisoners and Warden of Alcatraz Reunited, about a similar plot in which, on the 40th anniversary of the Memphis Three’s escape from a Tennessee jail, Warden Roy “Fireman” Farrow, the last warden to leave Alcatraz in a long-tailed boat, finally got to meet his tormentors in Pattaya.
In the trailer for the Alcatraz TV series though, which stars Sarah Jones and Jorge Garcia, it points to something far more secretive and sinister. We suspect that, in their version of events, the inmates were abducted by aliens and then “reappeared” under their control to take part in the new series. As an inmate recalled on the trailer: “There’s nothing but secrets…something terrible’s going to happen here [at the closure of the prison].”
For 100 years no one had ever escaped from Alcatraz until that night in Hollywood when they all vanished. 302 men, to be exact, disappeared that night. They were never seen or heard from again. Until now. In San Fransisco. Where else? The aliens, we suspect, have activated the inmates this year to bend them to their evil will and extract vengeance on Americans for the financial crisis.
San Francisco Police Department Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) is assigned to a homicide case and a fingerprint leads her to Jack Sylvane, a former Alcatraz inmate who was said to have died decades ago.
Given her family history – both her grandfather and surrogate uncle were guards at the prison, but neither of whom have yet admitted to have been associated with Fireman Farrow – Madsen’s interest in what happened is suddenly piqued.
In the plot, Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) tries to impede her investigation – he seems to know a lot more than he’s letting on – and Madsen turns to Alcatraz expert Dr Diego Soto to piece together the sequence of events. They discover that one of the former inmates, Jack Sylvane, is not only alive he is on the loose in the streets of San Francisco, and is killing people.
Sylvane hadn’t aged a day since he was in Alcatraz and Madsen and Soto set about trying to stop his killing sprees by delving into Alcatraz history and government cover-ups (read alien cover-ups?). They discover, somewhat farcially, that Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister threat.
They don’t want to give the full extent of the plot away just yet, as the trailer only hints at its possible outcome. But it’s American, so there’s just got to be aliens in there somewhere. We just know it, or how else will people be riveted to their seats to watch its mysteries unfold?
You see, Hauser says at one point in true Hollywood style: “No one’s going to be able to find them because they don’t exist.” Then Jack Sylvane, in a graveyard scene, says: “I only do what they told me.” Isn’t that just too much of a give-away for us not to be right?
But you see our story, which Fox creator JJ Abrams may have read and adapted, although we very much doubt it, offers an alternative Alcatraz plot to ours. His is far more Tinseltown in its approach. Ours was about a mastermind called “BoyzTown” Rippenhof and his two accomplices, known collectively as the Memphis Three, who were lifted off a jailhouse roof by helicopter and disappeared without trace years after being transferred from Alcatraz.
Then, forty years later, a warder named Roy “Fireman” Farrow, who had harboured lingering psychotic hostility towards the Three, met again in Alcatraz GoGo bar in Pattaya. And aliens were never cast as being in control of him. Why would they, he’s Dutch?
Abrams has produced TV thrillers before, like the supernatural adventure series Lost. So, Alcatraz could be said to be an ideal genre for him, a period piece about life on Alcatraz prison prior to its being closed down.
And with Abrams’ name behind it, Alcatraz is a major television network production. If you’re interested in his version of events, you can see the Alcatraz trailer on YouTube.