Question: I am amazed by all of the criticism of Prison Break. The same people who criticize it are people who watch 24, Desperate Housewives and Lost, none of which have anything but preposterous scenarios. The show never promised to be a documentary. Why can't we watch a show that is silly and unrealistic, rolling our eyes but enjoying it? Why must everything be so serious? I am surprised Prison Break has been so singled out for its less-than-realistic premise. Like a day with Jack Bauer is realistic? I don't see much of a difference. What happened to just having fun watching a show?— Kit
Matt Roush: I can only speak for my own criticisms, but as someone who embraces the notion of guilty TV pleasures wholeheartedly, I do have at least one standard even for junk TV: that I remotely care about what's happening. My problem with Prison Break boils down to this line from my most recent Dispatch about the show upon its inane finale: "Even the characters who were so promising at the start have been reduced to cardboard cutouts being maneuvered on a chessboard made of Swiss cheese." I don't expect everyone to agree with this, but I do bristle a bit when people keep asking "What's your problem?" when I've spelled it out pretty specifically. It's not so much the premise, although Prison Break's pretty much fell apart once they broke out and we followed too many characters through too many subplots of unequal interest. Comparing Prison Break to 24 or Lost on the basis of believability is pointless. It's all about the execution of a high concept. To me, that's where Prison Break miserably fails.