Sam Neill is the latest actor to sign on to star in “Alcatraz”, the new Fox pilot from J.J. Abrams, Elizabeth Sarnoff, and Bryan Burke. Niell “will play Emerson Hauser, the head of a government agency who radiates authority and piercing intelligence.” The cast also includes Sarah Jones (“Lone Star”), Jorge Garcia (“Lost”), Jonny Coyne (“Undercovers”), and Jason Butler Harner (“Fringe”).
Produced by Warner Bros. TV and Bad Robot, the show follows the exploits of a cop (Jones) and a group of FBI agents who have to contend with a group of Alcatraz prisoners and guards who disappeared from the prison back in the day, only to reappear in modern times. Garcia plays an Alcatraz historical expert, Coyne plays the Warden, and Harner is the assistant warden.
Neill has a good intensity that seems like a perfect fit for this role as it is described. He can play a hero and a villain equally well, and is often at his best when you’re not entirely certain which one he is. This series sounds like it has potential. Abrams’ shows are at their best when they lean towards they sci-fi end of the spectrum, with a healthy dose of mystery thrown in, like “Fringe” or “Lost”. Let’s hope it lasts longer than “Undercovers”.