Prison Break – Season 3, Episode 4 – Good Fences

October 12, 2007

If you told me at the beginning of the season that Prison Break was going to once again become one of the most fun, pure escapist show on the air, I would have thought you were nuts, particularly after the contrived ending of last season that put Michael back in jail. But here we are at the 4th episode of the season and this show is in no danger whatsoever of falling off my list. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that this season seems to have the lamest new shows in recent memory. But that’s neither here nor there.

It’s kind of too bad that I stay on top of TV news and knew that the actress wasn’t coming back since it ruined what could have been a good surprise twist. Instead, as I predicted last week, we find out before the first commercial break that Sarah’s head is in the box that was sent to Linc. What was somewhat surprising, but actually made perfect sense to the story, was Linc not telling Michael. Given how reluctant Michael was to help when he thought it was only Linc’s son who was captured it seemed to be the right move.

Read the rest of this entry »

Prison Break – Season 3, Episode 3 – Call Waiting

October 3, 2007

All last year I complained about how silly this show was and in many cases that it was frankly boring.  And then after a couple of bad episodes just as I would be about to drop the show, there would be a good episode or 2 and my countdown would restart.

Well I’m done complaining.  The show has captured my interest again.  Given the let down the big conspiracy from the last 2 years was, I’m not confident that the current one involving Whistler is going to be that much better.  Do I really care why they want to find where Whistler took someone in a fishing boat?  That being said, I don’t think I care.

Read the rest of this entry »

Prison Break – Season 3, Episode 2 – Fire/ Water

September 27, 2007

I actually enjoyed this week’s Prison Break.  I know I sound surprised but the show has been so hit and miss you never know which side it’s going to lean toward.  Before I jump into what I like about the show, I’m going to get what I disliked out of the way.  One word – Sucre.  With all the new characters and still so many of the old around, he seems completely unnecessary.

Enough of the bad, on to the good.  First, the show looks great in high-def.   It really enhances the experience when it looks this good and takes advantage of the widescreen.  As for the storyline, the show feels like it’s raised the stakes this season.  Unlike last season’s disjointed chase across America, the Panama jail feels serious – from Bellick in a diaper to the lack of water to the absence of guards to Lechero, the informal head of the prison (the amazing Bunny Colvin from the Wire) who keeps these hardened criminals in line.  The events set up a feeling of danger, and the possibility that anything can happen which shows like Prison Break require to stay interesting.  Even the conspiracy story which has Michael trying to break a man named James Whistler out of prison in order to save Sara and Linc’s son is actually interesting and seems challenging.

For the first time in a long time I’m feeling like the decision to continue with a third season may not have been a mistake.  Bring on episode 3.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B+


Prison Break – Season 3, Episode 1 – Orientacion

September 18, 2007

I was only an episode or 2 away from dropping this show multiple times last year and then all of a sudden there would be a few good episodes and I’d be back in for a little longer.  At the end of last season with the main story arc pretty much wrapped up they dumped Michael and a bunch of the supporting cast into a Panamanian prison.

As we learn at the start of the new season this new prison is definitely not a country club like Fox River.  In fact it got so bad that all the guards left and all who remain are the prisoners including a leader of a gang who likes to hold fights to the death between inmates and as we find out at the end of the episode, a mysterious contact who Michael needs to break out.  Unfortunately breaking out of this jail doesn’t look trivial and like in season 1, he doesn’t have any tattoos to help.  What Michael does have are some old allies, old enemies and possibly some new friends to help.  This brings us to what’s at stake.  Apparently the tool of the show (LJ) has been kidnapped again, along with Sara who we know isn’t coming back, and it’s up to Michael to find his fellow inmate, break out and along the way discover who’s doing this to him.

I’m still not sure I’m in this show for the long haul.  It may just be too much “same old, same old” for me.  But this first new episode, coming right at the beginning of the season and a week before anything else starts, gives it a bit of a longer runway.  However, once the full season starts, I don’t think the show will get as many chances to redeem itself as I gave it last year.  For now though, I’m in for at least the next 2-3 weeks.

And let me add in conclusion: Welcome back TV.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B

Prison Break: Season 2, Episode 22 – Sona

April 4, 2007

The creators of Prison Break had a rare opportunity that so many shows don’t have.  After two seasons they had brought most of the storylines to a close including the conspiracy that set the show in motion.  However, instead of providing its loyal viewers with closure and ending the show, the powers that be opted to renew it for an unnecessary third season.

Now I liked the first season of the show.  It was suspenseful and entertaining with a cast that looked like it was enjoying itself.  The second season definitely had some ups and downs as it separated the core cast sending each off on a series of misadventures that ranged from mildly entertaining to cartoonish.  Meanwhile the conspiracy unravelled in the background, the hunter was revealed to be a pawn and the solider switched sides. 

I got a little bored as the show seemed to meander but the last few weeks the show definitely improved.  Last night I think was the end of my Prison Break viewing.  All of the surviving cast (except Linc ironically enough) ended up in a Panamanian jail and some new conspiracy was launched that had something to do with the old conspiracy and the reason the brothers are needed alive.  Make sense?  Yeah it didn’t really do much for me either. 

Watching I think I realized the problem I have with Prison Break is that I just don’t really care all that much about the characters.  Even when I enjoy the show it doesn’t matter much to me if they are on screen that week or even live or die for that matter.  So, for now I’m taking the position that I won’t be watching next year but knowing how hard it is for me to drop a show after I’ve followed for more than a season, I likely will give it a shot for a few episodes just to see if it gets better.  Doesn’t mean I’ll like it though.

Avi’s Episode Rating: C+

Prison Break – Season 2, Episode 17 – Bad Blood

February 20, 2007

I’m just getting tired of it all.  The conspiracy, the running, the near misses, kidnapped families, sick daughters and tonight flashbacks to sad childhoods.  The more plotlines the show creates, the less compelling it becomes and the less interested I am.

The last few episodes have been entertaining but I can’t see myself staying around beyond this season.  Word is that the writers are going to tie up the conspiracy thread by end of season.  This could make it an easy jumping off point for people like me who are tiring of the show.

Tonight’s episode brought back Stacy Keach as Warden Pope who helped Michael, Sara and Linc get their hands on her father’s evidence from the cigar club.  Surprise of surprise the Warden let them go in the end.  Meanwhile T-Bag flashed back to his childhood and decided to let his family go.  Meanwhile Sucre and C-Note zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Sorry dozed off.  I woke up in time to hear C-Note offer to help Mahone catch Michael.  Yeah, I don’t really care either.

Which brings us to my real problem with Prison Break.  I just don’t care anymore.  I still may wait out the rest of the season to see how it comes together, especially with only 4-5 more episodes to go, but it’s unlikely this will be on my list next season.

Avi’s episode rating – C+

Prison Break – Season 2, Episode 13 – The Killing Box

December 3, 2006

Now that was the Prison Break I remember.  I’ve found this second season to be very uneven with episodes especially in the first part of the season that ranged from boring to ridiculously implausible.  It seemed that once the convicts got out of prison, the writers didn’t know what to do with them.  As the show built towards its first hiatus for baseball, it seemed to regain some momentum, which I attribute to them finally bringing the characters back together to find Moreland’s money and the revelation that Mahone is working for the bad guys.

Since it’s returned from baseball, the show has been lots more fun.  I still cringe everytime I see someone recognizing the convicts but beyond that convenient plot device the show has moved at a good pace.

Which brings us to tonight’s episode.  So I’m one of those who got it wrong.  About 2 months ago I was sure that Mahone was going to switch sides and help Michael unravel the conspiracy.  I’m glad I did because it made tonight’s Kellerman reveal all the more shocking.  It also opens up a good follow on plot for the future as they relink up with Sara after Kellerman just tried to kill her.   So what do you think, is Mahone dead?   I hope not.

The build up to the reveal was definitely suspenseful with Mahone trying to kill Michael and Linc in custody, the set up to get them to run and then their eventual run towards Kellerman.  I was at the edge of my seat the whole time and fairly sure that the cliffhanger would be when they got caught rather than what did happen.  Much better ending.

I also liked T-Bag who was his usual creepy self stealing a prosthetic hand, sleeping with a mailwoman and then finding the woman who sent him to prison.   Is there anything this guy won’t do?  He is by far one of the most unique characters on TV.

I even felt bad for Bellick getting sent to Fox River expecting special treatment but instead getting thrown in with the convicts he previously had ruled over.

Oh yeah Sucre got awaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzy.  So did Sazzzzzzzzzzzzzzra.  Sorry dozed off again.

All in all a great episode that has me waiting with eager anticipation the show’s return in late January.  Much improved for a show I was contemplating dropping back in September.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A-

New York Magazine’s Dead On Advice on “How to Fix Lost”

November 14, 2006

Adam Sternbergh wrote a great article in New York Magazine highlighting how innovative shows that succeed with audiences like Lost are doomed by TV’s business model which forces these shows to stretch their premises out way too long.  He writes:

There is, however, a simple solution: Change the format, or at least reimagine it. When it so-called arc shows, we need something between a mini-series and an open-ended run. We need the TV equivalent of a novella: the limited-run show. Series driven by a central mystery (Twin Peaks, The X-Files) peter out precisely because they have indefinite life spans. The writers are forced to serve up red herrings until the shows choke on their own plot twists.

He’s right.  Rather than use Lost as an example, I want to use Prison Break which I’m watching as I write this.  Talk about a show with a limited life span, the title alone defines the limitation of the show’s central premise.  I’m still watching and generally enjoying the way the story unfolds but I would be much more satisfied if the creators would actually stand up and say it’s a finite show (say 3 years).  The fact that the show could potentially go on forever does affect my interest in sticking around to see the show “choke on its plot twist”.

Here’s a couple of examples of shows that did it right.  Babylon 5 was always intended to be a 5 year story and that’s how long it lasted.  It changed direction as circumstances dictated but it stuck to the basic 5 year plan that its creator had for it.  Sleeper Cell and Wiseguy built their shows around multi-episode arcs which gave the viewers closure if they wanted to stop at any point but definitely didn’t play it safe with their storylines.  I’m sure there are others but I’m stuck on the numerous shows that have done it wrong and disappointed us.  I’m not holding out hope that a chance is imminent but I like Mr. Sternbergh’s thinking.

Prison Break – Season 2, Episode 10

November 7, 2006

After a lackluster first 1/2 of the season since coming back from the baseball break this show has actually been fun again. Sure, the show still has mediocre dialogue and travel distance means as much on this show as it does on 24 but once you suspend belief and just enjoy it as pure entertainment Prison Break is a good way to spend an hour.

This week we saw the reunion between Michael and Tancredi with Mahone right on their tail. Somehow along the way Michael with his vast intellectual capacity deduced that Mahone is actually a bad guy out to kill, not capture, the escapees and their first face to face confrontation is likely going to set the tone for the cat and mouse game that will escalate in the coming weeks. Sucre tried to ZZZZZZZ. Oh sorry, I fell asleep during that part. I’m sure I didn’t miss anything. Also this week, captured Lincoln and his son Linc Jr. were rescued by his father’s band of ex-Company people who are out to expose the conspiracy. But wait, there’s a mole in the team. Who would have thought that would happen? Keep repeating to yourself: “Must keep suspending belief” and all will be fine. The former guards also tortured T-Bag, stole his key and money, and then one turned on the other walking off with the cash. Next week – more of the same fun.

Avi’s Episode Rating – B+

Out of Sync with TV Gal

October 11, 2006

If you’ve never read TV Gal who writes for Zap2It, you should.  I’ve been reading her for years and 90% of the time I am completely in sync with her.  It’s not just on the good shows that we agree but even on the “bad bad” and the “good bad” shows.  As embarrassed as I am to admit it, we even share a love of All My Children (which I was introduced to while in the womb back in 1970) from way back when.

This is why I was so upset reading her column this week.  It’s like I don’t know her at all.    Take this part:

I need to understand why you’re not watching “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” (Monday, NBC, 10 p.m.). Oh, don’t lie to me. I know you’re not watching and I want to know why. The gets better with every episode — it’s funny, sharp and who knew Sarah Paulson was this talented?

Is she watching the same show I’m watching?  I so want to love this show as a die hard Aaron Sorkin fan but I’m finding each week seems to get worse and worse.  This week’s episode had some promise finally with a story about plagarism, only to cop out with an ending that wrapped up way too tidily.  I also find Sarah Paulson’s character to be grating and don’t care about her story with Matthew Perry.  They have no chemistry, please move on from this story.  They are no Donna and Josh or Casey and Dana. 

TV Gal follows up with:

So, as “Prison Break” headed off for its baseball hiatus, it seems to have lost its mind. Really, is it necessary to kill off everyone? The Sara story line is the only interesting thing the show has going on right now (seriously, I can’t believe they are digging a hole again), so why kill off her dad? I’m also tired of the President not being seen when we all know it’s because Patricia Wettig is over on “Brothers & Sisters.” And was anyone clamoring to see Haywire again? Anyone? That whole story line screams time filler.

I agree with her about the Haywire story but I finally thought over the last couple of episodes that the show picked up a lot of the momentum it lost since the escape.  The way she feels about the main storyline is kind of how I feel about the Sara storyline – it’s uninteresting to me.

On the topic of Grey’s Anatomy she writes:

Is anyone picking up what “Grey’s Anatomy” (Thursday, ABC, 9 p.m.) is putting down? That these two seemingly rational men would put up with Meredith’s shenanigans? It occurred to me last week that I’m beginning to feel the way about “Grey’s Anatomy” the way I felt about “Ally McBeal.” I can understand why it’s so popular, I just don’t particularly enjoy watching the show every week. That might be because I want to throttle Meredith and McDreamy. I’d watch a spin-off with the rest of the characters, especially Christina and Addison.

What’s funny is that I’m in complete agreement with her about the Meredith storyline but somehow I’ve been able to block her out every time she’s on screen and enjoy everything else that’s great about the show. 

Finally about Brothers and Sisters she writes:

So my mom was so right about “Brothers & Sisters” (Sunday, ABC, 10 p.m.). The show is so growing on me.

I have high hopes for this show with its Everwood pedigree but there’s nothing about this show that is keeping me engaged.  It’s on life support on my PVR.

TV Gal, I don’t think this is it between us.  I know that as the season progresses we will get back in sync.  I’m only writing because I care.  I look forward to your column next Monday as I have every Monday the past few years.