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Escape is just the beginning.
From Ask Matt (spoilers for recent episodes) 
25th-Sep-2006 07:22 am
LP: Ned blue
Question: I was wondering what your take is on shows whose plotlines don't seem to lend themselves to multiple seasons. Prison Break immediately comes to mind, since the new season feels like they are finding new ways to stretch it out. The Nine also comes to mind (I love the concept, just not sure how long you can stretch out a 52-hour event). Day Break, Vanished, Kidnapped, Reunion (from last season), etc. Granted 24 has done this for a while now (and for the most part has done a good job), but I wonder if all of these other shows will be able to do the same.— Anthony V.

Matt Roush: Wouldn't we all like to know. The genius of 24 is that it can reinvent itself every season, building on past adventures while essentially starting from scratch with a new crisis. As I watch Prison Break, especially in the credit sequence, I find myself pining for the first season when everyone was still behind bars, plotting. This race to the treasure, with ridiculous detours like Sucre trying to break up his true love's Vegas wedding, isn't really cutting it for me, and makes me wonder about the long-term potential of many of these now ubiquitous serialized thrillers. And just look at the impatience of so many Lost fans, who somehow wish the show was a different sort of show, one that would burn through more story and focus less on character and backstory (the very elements that make Lost a one-of-a-kind masterpiece). The real issue here is that these shows with their high concepts are all very inviting, at least at the start, and many of them look like they'd make a terrific movie or, even better, a miniseries. So much more exciting than just another procedural. (And, by the way, to digress for a moment, could last week's season-opener of CSI: Miami have been any more cartoonish?) The challenge for the producers and writers of these serials is to spin the story in a way that continues to keep us engaged without exasperating us (sorry, Vanished is already failing that test), while also figuring out how to sustain the premise for the long haul of a long, multiyear run. I'm not sure if many or any of these new shows can pull that off. But I'm willing to watch them try.

My note: I like the serialization of Lost and PB and don't get impatient or annoyed with either. The details of the show sometimes drives me nuts, but not because the show is playing out the way it is.

Question: Not so much a question as a comment after reading Monday's bits on Prison Break. For me, it's not that the show has become more ludicrous, but that it's lost its heart. Season 1 built up a relationship between Michael and his cellmate Fernando (aka Sucre), and then suddenly he says that everybody's on their own? I could buy it with the other inmates, but not with Fernando. Michael's selfless acts to free his brother begin to lose meaning when Michael begins to act selfish. Meanwhile, Lincoln simply needs more of a personality. His brooding made sense last season while on death row, but I expected him to show more range now that he's out. I'll probably keep watching (there's not much competition besides CBS' comedies, which I can tape), but my eyes are wandering.— Josh

Matt Roush: Interesting point. It does seem like prison has toughened up Michael quite a bit, and the brothers' ruthlessness to get to the buried treasure and keep it to themselves isn't exactly a noble calling. It's not that I mind that even the hero of the piece isn't that likable anymore. I just wish someone or something interested me. As the show has scattered geographically, it has definitely lost something for me. As in: a rooting interest. I'm pretty much watching now out of habit (and the only reason I'm still watching Vanished at all is to make fun of its rank clichés, which get moldier by the week). I've got to say: Until 24 returns in January, Monday is one of the weakest nights of the week (with the exception of Studio 60 and the occasional chuckle from a CBS comedy).
25th-Sep-2006 12:12 pm (UTC)
I don't think he really likes the show. I think he says that so that people will listen to him when he rags on the show. I mean, would you honestly listen to someone bitch about a show they admitted they didn't like?

Still, I don't think this show can or should go past two seasons, maybe two and a half. I don't think it's a bad thing for the show to have a short story arc and then end. There's really no need to drag this out, to the point that the only reason people are watching are because they have nothing better to do on that night(Buffy, I'm thinking of you).
25th-Sep-2006 12:58 pm (UTC)
I do think the last episode was all over the place. One moment we're in Las Vegas, then in Utah, then another place in Utah, then back in Chicago. It was all over the place. However, I still think it's the best show on TV.

And I'm enjoying Vanished more than when it first started. That being said, it's not as good as PB.
25th-Sep-2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think he likes PB. But I gotta admit, I really miss the Michael-Sucre interactions. I hope they do get together again this season (aside from the next episode, I mean).

25th-Sep-2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
I do think he makes some good points, but I don't know how he gets off calling Sucre's mission to break up his girlfriend's wedding in Las Vegas a "ridiculous detour". We knew from day one that all Sucre cares about is Maricruz. He's a passionate, straightforward guy and the only thing he needs is the woman he loves, and we've been reminded of that in every episode.
I can't help but defend Sucre...he's too adorable to leave vulnerable to the harsh words of TV critics.
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