Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The New Show Review Challenge: Prison Break

This is the first review that's part of what I will call The New Show Review Challenge. As I said in this post, I plan to attempt to watch and review every new show on network TV this season. The first new show of the fall season among the major networks is FOX's Prison Break. This is a good way to start off the fall television season.

Prison Break has a very interesting premise, one that seems more like movie material than TV show material. In it, Michael Scofield (played by Wentworth Miller) gets himself thrown in prison so that he can rescue his brother Lincoln Burrows (played by Dominic Purcell), a death row inmate accused of killing the Vice President's brother. Michael does whatever it takes to carry out his plan to help his brother. He pretends to have Type I Diabetes so he can get a daily visit with the prison doctor, a woman who is also the governor's daughter. He finds the whereabouts of the man who ratted on a mob boss so he can make use of his services when he escapes. He even finds himself in the middle of a battle between black and white inmates as he tries to use people on both sides to help him get the things he needs to further his plan. In the process, Michael gets beaten up multiple times and by the end of the two-hour premiere, it is possible that he may be without a toe.

Prison Break is one of the shows that seem influenced by ABC's Lost. Both shows rely on high concepts and both of them find ways to keep things interesting by having a lot of characters and storylines. Many characters were introduced in the premiere of Prison Break and there are several subplots. One subplot involves a woman named Veronica (played by Robin Tunney ) who is a lawyer and an ex-lover of Lincoln. Michael convinces her that Lincoln was set up and she starts investigating the case. We are also introduced to two Secret Service agents who are trying to bury the case through everything from intimidation to murder. There is also a subplot involving Sucre (played by Amaury Nolasco), Michael's cellmate. He wants to marry his girlfriend, but his "friend" Hector is wooing her. It's clear from the premiere that these subplots will probably become more and more important as the series progresses.

All in all, Prison Break has a lot of potential. The show has a nice pace to it that is faster than many dramas but not MTV-like. The show has a very good cast and a rising star in Wentworth Miller. After roles that vary from a younger version of Anthony Hopkins's character in The Human Stain to the man of Mariah Carey's dreams in the videos for "It's Like That" and "We Belong Together," this may be Miller's breakout role. FOX looks to have another show that could very well join the ranks of the network's 24 and House as one of the best dramas on television. Here's hoping that the producers can keep the quality up across the season.

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