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In case of 'Prison Break,' jury finds audience's pleasures to be guilty 
30th-Jan-2007 12:08 pm

Harry Waksberg
Posted: 1/30/07

Way back in 2005, many Americans saw ads for "Prison Break" during commercials on "Arrested Development," arguably one of the best shows to hit the mainstream. Many were appalled. Questions arose: how is it that Fox could cancel such a quality show and instead run this thoughtless tripe? How can such a plotline last beyond one season? Do they break out of prison, and if so, how many times can one really accomplish that? Is that the guy from "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005)?

The last question has an easy answer (yes). The rest, however, can only be answered by recovering from the loss of "Arrested Development" and giving Fox's new endeavor a shot. Now, "Prison Break" is no "AD," but in all its trashiness, it has arguably become the must-watch guilty pleasure of the year.

Now in its second season, our boys have broken out of prison. To catch up those just now tuning into the show, the original plan was that one man, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), would escape with his brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell). Over time, the plan expanded to include nine men. Of the nine escapees, one died during the escape, two were shot by the police, one got into a rowboat in Lake Erie (ostensibly headed for Holland) and the rest have pretty much split up.

At this point, the show has clearly left the original blueprint behind (maybe they never expected to get renewed?), so the plot twists suggest that a crazy person or perhaps a child has been writing scripts. This, however, is what makes the show delightfully unpredictable. If the show's tone seems strangely recognizable, there's a reason - the executive producer, Brett Ratner, directed the third X-Men movie. Needless to say, that doesn't exactly hint at a reputable directing history, but it seems that maybe a thrilling mainstream TV show is exactly what Ratner was made for.

In the ever-so-delicate, subtle style of such shows, "Prison Break" is not timid about killing off characters left and right. Of course, the two protagonists, Michael and Lincoln (played by the most wooden actors in history that weren't shaped by Geppetto) cannot die, because they were the original prison break, and that sort of futility wouldn't do at all.

The audience is very lucky, though, that the show's creators are so devoted to pleasing its fans. Like "Lost"'s Charlie (possibly the most annoying television character never to appear on "The Nanny"), T-Bag (Robert Knepper), a child molester who broke out with the rest, is so popular that he cannot be killed. He isn't popular only due to good looks or juicy celebrity gossip; Robert Knepper presents the role with a usually unachievable amount of expertise, especially for a television show. Never before has a child molester been played with such convincing aplomb, complete with a hint of Southern manners.

At this point, having run out of plot, it seems that the producers are sort of competing among themselves to keep raising the stakes. T-Bag has an entire family held hostage because they won't accept him as "the daddy." The president's brother, once thought dead, has just shot himself. Now what are Michael, Lincoln and the Secret Service agent with whom they have joined forces to do? And what of the rogue agent who has just killed an FBI agent? Will Haywire ever reach Holland? Now returning from a mid-second season hiatus, "Prison Break" is as worthy of your time as ever, and it is just getting more ridiculous.
© Copyright 2007 Tufts Daily
30th-Jan-2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
The reviewer is right: it is ridiculous. We should all go watch something realistic, like "Heroes" or "LOST".*

I grow very tired of movie/tv reviewers that put out a snarky reviews in order to make themselves seem informed, important, or in possession of superior taste. Snark does not make one intelligent - just check out what happens all over live journal.

* Disclaimer: I like LOST, so don't throw things at me.
30th-Jan-2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
The reviewer is right: it is ridiculous. We should all go watch something realistic, like "Heroes" or "LOST".*


you are so RIGHT.

i love lost, too. but come on. it IS ridiculous.

i, for one, LOOOVE ridiculousness.

so there ya go!

30th-Jan-2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
I couldn't agree more.

A child writing the scripts? Please, most shows on right now have much worse writing than PB does. And since when do original plot twists have to be written by a crazy person?
30th-Jan-2007 05:22 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's harsh.
30th-Jan-2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
He said he liked it. I think his review of Went and Dom's acting is harsh, but other than that, I think it's okay.
30th-Jan-2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
Well, whilst I tend to agree with him with regard to the ridiculous plot (although not about the acting), the guy evidently doesn't know what he's talking about, because Brett Ratner isn't the executive producer, he's one of several. And this show is Paul Scheuring's baby; since the pilot I doubt Ratner has much to do with it apart from major producer meetings and publicity parties.
30th-Jan-2007 06:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, Brett is much like a figurehead. He directed the pilot and gone to a few parties. I doubt he's done much else. He ought to direct another episode. Guess he's too busy making movies, but his name shows up every week on PB regardless. Wonder how much money he gets for that.
30th-Jan-2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
Oh come on, Mr. Self-Important Semi-Masturbatory Television Reviewer.

Next you'll tell us that The X-Files was not a 'realistic' show.

:::rolls eyes:::

30th-Jan-2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
I think Wentworth Miller acts really well. Some people tend to think acting is not acting unless it is over acting.
30th-Jan-2007 08:13 pm (UTC) - Ooookay.
LOL Yes, I watched the X-Files because aliens totally existed as baseball players from the 1940's and vampires are all pizza delivery guys.

What a frickin' moron. I don't agree with Went and Dom being wooden actors.

Loved the T-Bag paragraph though..that was right on. Helloooo Emmy, thyself should be on Robert Knepper's mantle!!
30th-Jan-2007 08:39 pm (UTC) - Re: Ooookay.
Rob should at least get an Emmy nom.
31st-Jan-2007 03:28 am (UTC) - Re: Ooookay.
What she said? That's what I'm thinking.
31st-Jan-2007 09:24 am (UTC)
Wooden Actors. Pfft.
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