What’s missing from Alcatraz?

Before Alcatraz aired, we got clued in to a particular production delay. All of the episodes which had so far been filmed needed to have new scenes filme dadded, due to a change in direction for the series which occurred when co-producer Jennifer Johnson joined the project.

The series was still ready in time for its air date, but fans have been wondering ever since, what changed about the show so drastically. Now, thanks to an interview given to Assignment X, Johnson discussed how she wanted to change the show when she came on. Specifically, she changed the flashback balance.

Originally, Alcatraz was just as much about the mystery in 1963 as it was about the mystery in 2012. The contemporary plot was the same as we see it now, but nearly 50% of each show’s scenes took place in the flashbacks to the past.

Anyone familiar with the big-mystery drama LOST, also created by Abrams, would recognize this concept, as that show made the stories of the characters’ pre-island lives as just as important as the mysteries on the island.

“The flashbacks were always fantastic, really vivid and alive, and we just wanted to make sure that the A stories were moving as fast as the premise promised,” she explained. “So we made that adjustment. It’s nothing that anybody [as a viewer will notice], because they’ll be seeing it for the first time.”

Johnson and the other producers wanted to “make the A stories more at the forefront of the show and make the flashbacks reflect what was happening in the A story a little more.”

It’s hard to think how much different the show would have been if more time was spent in the past. I can imagine that young Hauser would have been a more integral character. Perhaps there would have been more real investigation going on in the past, rather than simply watching the mystery solve itself a little bit each episode.

The story of Alcatraz, if you haven’t gotten into it yet, covers a group of detectives, one of them a comicbook shop owner and Alcatraz history expert, as they chase down criminals who disappeared from Alcatraz prison in 1963, and who are turning up suddenly in our own time period. Not even these convicts know why they are here, or why they are still more violent and criminally minded than they were back in their own time.

Alcatraz airs Monday nights on Fox.