Apr 122012
 




 

                                                              

                                 A LOOK BACK AT SEASON ONE OF PRISON BREAK
 
 
I remember the first time I heard of Prison Break!I was glancing through one of those TV magazines when I saw a photo of man whose entire chest and back was covered in one big tattoo. That image caught my eye and then I saw the words underneath the picture which said “Prison Break, the new 24” which made me sigh and put the magazine down. You see I was madly in love with 24. It was the show that dominated my life for many years, I had to watch every episode, had to buy all the books and I must admit that I had a serious man crush on Jack Bauer. Nothing on TV could beat it, I needed to tell everyone about it and I even despaired at those who did not even bother to watch it. It was because of my love that it made me stop watching other shows.

I use LOST as one example. I sat down on the opening episode of the show that I eventually grew to love (after years of neglect and two months of constant watching) and and I saw this mad hero running up and down the beach trying to save the hurt passengers and I was thought “Hmm..this looks good!” until of course someone asked him his name and he uttered “Jack!”. That was it for me, TV was off and a vow never to watch that show simply because at that time I only had room for one Jack in my life and it was not a man who was stuck on an island.

When I read that quote comparing Prison Break to 24 I remember thinking “Oh the heck do they think they are? Better than 24? No chance!”, and you know what, I did not watch at all. Yes its sad looking back but I was so obsessed with a place called CTU and double agents that I could not really think of anything else. Lucky for me then I had a good friend who kept on drumming into me in just how good Prison Break was and soon as the first season finished and he bought the box-set he knocked my door one day and said in simple terms “Watch this show or I will xxxxxxx kill you”. With him being one of the hardest men in the town, in which I lived, it was an offer I just could not refuse.

The day in question was a Wednesday, it was early morning and it was raining outside so my plans to do things were stalled. I looked over to my DVD Collection wondering what I could watch and the box-set stared back at me. It was there and then I thought I give it ago, I knew the second season of the show was due on in a few weeks time and the idea was that if I found some love then at least I would have caught up and be able to watch the new episodes with the rest of the fans, but I must admit I thought that would be something I would not do. Somehow the show did not grasp me into watching….I mean once you seen one Prison Break film, you have seen them al.

How wrong was I?

For the next three days I was engrossed with the lives of the two brothers who had just entered my life. I thought that 24 was addictive but quite possibly Prison Break especially in Season One surpassed every hour I spent with Jack. The cells of Fox River invaded my life and I never wanted it to end and I questioned myself into how I missed such a wonderful action show on its first run. Even now writing this and thinking back to the show gets me all excited. Its like the need I get when I see a good horror and I feel I have to tell everyone. This of course was one of the reasons why over the last three weeks I have sat down to watch the show all over again and what a joy it was the second time around. I was more at ease this time because the pressure of watching was off, I knew every twist and turn and now I could just enjoy it because first time around all it gave me was stress and a need to see the next episode. Now safely in my seat without a care in the world I could enjoy the world of Schofield and Burrows for a second time and you know what? It gets better on second viewing.

 
           
 
 
Scofield, Lincoln, Sara, T-Bag, Veronica, Sucre, C-Note, John Abruzzi, Bellick, Kellerman and Pope are the name of the characters that will stick in your mind once you sit down and watch the show. I decided to pull them all out of the bag straight away so it would be easier to write this review but I will mention soon what part they play in this twisted story of intrigue and lies.
 
We start with that man who I mentioned with the big tattoo at the begining of this review and his name is Michael Schofield (Wentworth Miller) the hero of the whole show, a man who is the totally oppoiste of Jack Bauer, in that his brain does the talking and not a fist or a gun. We see Schofield getting that tattoo and then going back to his place where his main wall is full of newspaper cut outs and worked out plans, a scene that you could say the Russell Crowe film The Next Three Days “Borrowed” from. Michael rips everything off and throws the stuff out and then like most people do, walks into a bank and attempts to rob it! He gets caught (helped by the fact he does not attempt to run) and is sentenced to serve time in the rough place of Fox River. Here he meets his new cell mate Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) who he asks “where can he find Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell)?. Sucre informs him that the guy is on death row after killing the American President’s brother and when he asks Michael “why does he want to know?”, the reply he gets back is “He’s my brother”. Its here we find out that Michael made sure he was sent to the right prison so that he can be near Lincoln, not only to support him but to do the impossible and break him out of Fox River.
 
How? It turns out that Scofield was one of the guys who helped design the very prison that they are in. Not only does he know the ins and outs of the place but he also has the blueprints on him in the shape of that Tattoo, a fantastic design that hides what the ink work actually shows. Sounds crazy? Well this is only the start and it gets more bonkers and addictive as each episode is played.
 
 
The infamous Tattoo that played a pivotal role in Seasons 1&2
 
 
 
Of course for Schofield to escape he needs help and with his cell mate Sucre on board, he also gathers help from the Prison’s most famous cell-mate. Yes I am talking about Mafia henchman John Abruzzi (Peter Stormare from Fargo) whose in prison because a former employee saw him shoot someone in cold blood. No one knows where this grass is, apart from Schofield who tells Abruzzi “he will tell him where the man is and will break him out of prison, if he supplies the transport once they have escaped”. With Abruzzi on board, the team is complete, but of course in the world of Prison Break, nothing goes according to plan and soon the list of those joining the break out grows on each and every twist.
 
With Michael leaving his cell every night thanks to the toilet (it makes sense) and running through the dark inside corridors of Fox River, the plot thickens not just with what is going on in the inside but also from events outside the walls. Lincoln’s lawyer Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney), a childhood friend of the brothers who once believed the guilt of Lincoln but uncovers some evidence that suggest not all is what it seems. This brings out the danger in two mystery man led by Kellerman (Paul Adelstein) who becomes the chief villain and who also takes orders from a mystery woman on the phone. We do get the reveal of who she is towards the build up of the season climax and it again is one of those shock twists that goes to show just how much danger the brothers are in.
 
The major selling point of Prison Break is in fact the two-parter that comes with episode 5 and 6 which are titled Riots, Drills and the Devil: Its here that I fell in love with the whole show even though I was already gripped by what was going on. Michael comes across a wall that needs breaking but the sound may be cause a bit of alarm and so Sucre suggests causing a riot to blank out any noise. Its doing the riot that the sometimes glimpsed evil bastard of T-Bag (Robert Knepper) comes into the fore. Now every fan of this show will tell you that Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell is the best creation of the entire series. So good in fact that the character actually appeared in another TV Show called Breakout Kings. Bare in mind that this guy is a rapist, murderer and a paedophile, he is so damn likeable (if that is the right word) that he steals every scene he is in. Doing the riot he takes centre stage and we informed thanks to Bellick (Wade Williams) Fox River’s Chief Office Warden who screams at T-Bag and tells us that his mother and father were actually brother and sister! Ah yes, see how much crazy shit this is!
 
The two parter ends with the hospital doctor Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies yes she from The Walking Dead) sat on the floor in fear of being raped by those breaking into the hospital room and Schofield being told this, starts his journey to her. Its a brilliant cliff-hanger because by now we already know that with only five episodes in Schofield has developed feelings for the Doc. Schofield needs to do stuff in the medical room to aid his escape and so needs to visit there once a week. To do this he pretends he has diabetes and gets his injection. Doing these talks, they become close and to see her in danger brings a great new incentive to just the prison break plot line. Its also doing this two part run that T-Bag uncovers the “escape plan” and forces himself into the increasing number of escapees.
 
                                    
 

             The now infamous origami swan that become such a regular feature in the show

 Many 24 fans found the twist in Season One of “there being another shooter” a bit daft. I had to agree but also sympathise with the makers because the show was originally only scheduled for 12 episodes and so had to add the unexpected plot thread. Here Prison Break suffers the same fate. Such was the success of the show, the studio ordered another 12 episodes and the build up to the escape becomes delayed because of added storylines. You could say the show does suffer a bit but lucky the writers struck lucky by adding new bad guys called “The Company” who become the evil corporation for the entire four season run.Its amazing to watch the show now. Having just finished the entire run, I still feel its one of the best TV has ever produced. Some put their noses up because it seems far fetched but that is the charm of the entire plot. Its so much like 24 in that once you start watching you just can not stop, it eats up your life because every episode ends in such a great cliff-hanger that you can not help it but want to watch the next episode just to see how it pans out.

Miller is brilliant in the role of Schofield, always thinking a way out while Purcell plays brother Lincoln like the required thug he is, but you do feel for him knowing that the death chair awaits. All of the main characters have the required back story to help the show move along, each have their own reasons to wanting to escape and while some some like T-Bag are the most evil that this world could offer, you want them to succeed in their plan even though in the real world, you would not want to meet them in any shape or form.

The show builds up to a thrilling finale when the escape actually starts to take effect. You will be gripped by what is happening on the screen and even feel sorry for people like the Prison Warden Henry Pope (Stacy Keach) who befriends Schofield, only to see that friendship go to ruin to what he sees as betrayal.

If I could sell Prison Break to those fans who have not seen this but yet love 24 then I have this to say, and this includes our very own Matt in this who has never seen this but loves the world of Bauer. Well Season One is equal to that of Day 5 of 24 and that is a high compliment because its well known that the day when Jack faced his toughest challenge was on the fifth day which won universal critical acclaim.

I would even go on and say that for a stand alone season, Prison Break is probably even better than the show I loved, its gripping and relentless but while I am singing the praises here, this wonderful season is also its biggest downfall. Having reached such a high standard then there was no way the makers could get it back for the already planned second season which when you watch the last two episodes of this, a dying prisoner last words will give you a hint in what direction the second run takes.

Prison Break reached its peak in its first season, 24 episodes of high drama and tension that needs to be seen to be appreciated, what followed after this, is a review that is coming soon on HorrorCultFilms

Some Triva: Lincoln’s cell was the same one in which serial killer John Wayne Gacy was incarcerated, one member of the production crew refused to enter, because it was alleged to be haunted.

 

The Show’s Promo Trailer

                                                                        YouTube Preview Image

 

Coming Soon…..Prison Break Season 2 Review

 

Ross Hughes

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