WonderCon 2012: Save ALCATRAZ: What do we send…rocks?
One of the new shows this season that is currently in re-up suspense is the FOX fantasy-sci-fi-crime show, ALCATRAZ. Now I really like it, I’m invested. The characters haven’t been fully developed yet and I want to see more. It would be a crying shame if they don’t get sentenced to a second season. (See what I did there? Yeah? *crickets*) Moving on!
I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with the show creators, executive producers and talent from ALCATRAZ over the weekend at Wondercon. Robert Forster, who plays the gruff former prison guard and father figure, Ray Archer, Jonny Coyne, who plays the inexplicably sadist Warden Edwin James, Parminder Nagra, who plays progressive Dr. Lucy Banerjee. Sarah Jones, Detective Rebecca Madsen who has a personal connection to the mysteriously disappeared “63s”, Jorge Garcia, Dr. Diego Soto, the comic book store PHD who literally wrote the book on ALCATRAZ and is now essential to the identification of the reappearing prisoners and other inhabitants of The Rock. Alongside these talented performers, were show creators Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt and executive producers Jennifer Johnson and Daniel Pyne. Did I geek out? Yes! Did I manage to still ask some questions? Yes! Did my excitement over the show wane? NOT AT ALL! Here are some of the inside takes I was able to glean and how:
CourtneyK: Have there been any plotpoints so far that you’ve really connected to that you feel are central to your characters?
Robert Forster (RAY ARCHER): PROTECT THAT GIRL, get these guys outta there and protect that girl! She’s my closest relative, she decided to follow in my footsteps she wants to be a cop? Now she wants to be a detective? Geez I don’t know why you’d wanna do that and now she’s involved with these idiots and I DON’T LIKE IT. And I don’t want her anywhere near it. Although I understand from other conversations with other cast members they think that I’m gonna turn out to be the bad guy! (laughter) Pure speculation! (laughter)
Jonny Coyne (WARDEN JAMES): The one real joy the Warden has is to always be messing with people. That’s where he gets his jollies from (laughter). It was Sam Neil who said to me ‘Just play everything like you’re messing with people’ and that kind of cleared everything up for me. The warden thinks he’s an intellectual, an artist and thinks he enjoys the finer things. I think they have something in the back of their minds (the writers on Warden James) as to Why. They are just careful of what they let show.
CourtneyK The character you play is so progressive for the time; she’s really ballsy! Are we going to see more of her personal life soon?
Parminder Nagra (DR. LUCY BANERJEE): Yes, you’ll start to get a taste of the Lucille/Hauser backstory soon. It will start to be explained (in the 60s), you won’t just see them stuck in the prison.
CourtneyK: The 63s, are we seeing them come back in any particular order? Or is it just randomly are we getting them as we’re getting them? We (the audience) know someone’s helping them, but who’s coming back first?
Daniel Pyne (EXEC. PRODUCER): They don’t know yet. One of the problems that’s confronting them as they come back is that it’s not happening the way they expected it to so it’s not just unpredictable for us as writers but it’s unpredictable for the characters as they’re going through it. So if there was “a plan”, some idea of them coming back in an order? It isn’t happening so it’s messed everything up. It adds another dimension to the storytelling.
CourtneyK: Whew! Ok, that makes me feel better, not to be looking for any particular logic. (laughter)
Jennifer Johnson (EXEC. PRODUCER): Yeah, it’s a very “untried science” that “they’re” practicing here! (laughter) And we like that element, it allows us a lot. Lucy’s been back (meaning she was a 63) already! We (the viewers) know that! So she may have been the first person back OR we may encounter characters later who have been back much longer who we didn’t know were 63s at all.
CourtneyK: In line with 63s being back longer, was the murder of Rebecca’s partner by Tommy Madsen on purpose or was that an accident?
Jennifer Johnson: That’s a good question! That will be answered! I think in episode 13. It’s really important to have questions answered like the murder, the blood, what’s behind the Warden’s secret door, etc. **SPOILER ALERT** In Episode 11, We are expanding on Lucille Banerjee/Lucy Sanguphta(SP??), she may become more of a central character in present day. (Meaning that currently, Lucy is in a coma and has been for a few episodes now; we know with that spoiler that she’ll be out of the coma soon!)
Regarding Character evolution so far:
Sarah Jones (DET. REBECCA MADSEN): I think for this first season, it was more about showing the audience what this team’s up against and the kind of people that they have to catch. I think if we go to a second season you’ll see more of an evolution of sorts of who Rebecca was because she’s pretty much the same kind of person because she’s always been solving crimes and catch criminals just now with a level of supernatural.
Jorge Garcia (DR. DIEGO SOTO): We kind of hit the ground running. As these last few episodes air we kind of start to see Doc and Rebecca get more included on “What’s going on behind the curtain?” and that is really I think where the team is formed. It’s almost like that first Star Trek (feature film) that J.J. did where it was like the formation episode and now we’re ready.
Sarah Jones: Yeah, it’s like Season One is the Cause, and Season Two will be the Effect as far as it comes to finding out who Doc and Rebecca are.
Jorge Garcia: We’re cutting our teeth with the guys from San Francisco but who knows, people could be coming back all over the world!
So here we are, it’s Monday Night, ALCATRAZ night and there’s a lot at stake for the characters and the show itself! So many more questions to be asked and answered; there’s a wealth of possibilities to explore at ALCATRAZ! So what do we do to save this potentially cancelled series? Do we send rocks to the network (since ALCATRAZ is called “The Rock”) or comic books? Electro-shock machines or vials and vials of blood? Gosh, I hope not. I hope that the ratings are enough to show the network that there’s real staying power in the cast and writing teams. They have the elements, they just need the audience. So what do you think? Will you be watching?