Season one of Prison Break is great television. Here's the set-up. Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is framed and wrongfully convicted for assassinating the Vice President's brother. Lincoln's brother Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), who just happens to have designed Illinois' Fox River Penitentiary where Lincoln is on death row, hatches an elaborate escape plan. Michael's plan involves getting himself incarcerated in Fox River and smuggling the prison's blueprints by having them hidden in tattoos that cover his entire torso. Once inside, Michael must form alliances with a rogue's gallery of felons with their own sometimes unsavory motives. Meanwhile, on the outside, Lincoln's lawyer and one-time girlfriend Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney), pursued by Secret Service agents, attempts to unravel the conspiracy that sent her man to the slammer.
Prison Break is anchored by tight, suspenseful writing clearly relished by the largely little-known cast. Standouts include Robert Knepper as the murderer/pedophile T-Bag, who somehow makes such a despicable character likeable. Stacey Keach of Mike Hammer fame plays the warden-with-a-heart-of-gold, who clashes with Captain Brad Bellick (Wade Williams) over whether to rehabilitate the inmates or makes their lives more miserable. Peter Stormare, famous for his skills with a wood chipper in Fargo, turns in a deliciously menacing performance as mob boss John Abruzzi, while Amaury Nolasco's winsome Fernando Sucre shares a cell and secrets with Miller's Scofield. Watching the show one gets a sense that this is the opening salvo of Wentworth Miller's career, which will doubtless include roles as assassins, detectives, super heroes, and perhaps the champion of staring contests. Midway through the season it's explained that Scofield is a genius with an heightened sensitivity to other peoples' suffering, which sums up what makes the show so great--the mind-bendingly intricate plot is a framework for moments when people make others suffer and cope with the burden of their own suffering.
The six-disc set includes 22 addictive episodes, audio commentary on selected episodes, three featurettes, and alternate and deleted scenes. As with most TV shows on DVD, the "previously on Prison Break" intros can get tiresome, but that's what the fast forward button is for. --Ryan Boudinot
Prison Break season two simply shouldnt work. Having effectively concluded the story arc at the end of season one, there was real cynicism as to whether the pace, energy and excitement could possibly transfer to more episodes.
Yet thats overlooking the sheer presence of the fascinating, twisted bunch of characters we got to know, love, hate and jeer at throughout the shows maiden season. And in many ways, the second series of Prison Break evolves into a logical extension. If youve not seen series one, look away now.
With Michael and Lincoln Burroughs, along with the other escapees, now on the run, the focus switches to keeping out of prison rather than trying to break into it (not for nothing does one of the shows creators cite The Fugitive as an influence). Thats no easy task though. On top of the media interest in them, there are the political forces behind the scenes that were slowly developed in the maiden season,
Once you add into the cauldron the simmering relationships between the escapees themselves, and the feeling of distrust that underpins them, the second season of Prison Break falls into place. And do you know what? Its genuinely as exciting as it was first time round.
Sure, the show takes the occasional narrative shortcut, and shows willingness to test the boundaries of realism as much as it can. But theres no getting away from it: Prison Break is relentless, exciting television, and when this second season concludes with a logical progression to whatll happen in the third, you cant help but demand more. --Jon Foster
It was always going to be a challenge to move a show whose premise effectively fitted comfortably inside a single series to a third season. And so perhaps inevitably, Prison Break moves the action back to the slammer, this time in Panama. It proves to be a wise choice, as, while plausibility has long since been thrown out of the window, its a more natural setting for the show.
Prison Break still follows brothers Lincoln and Michael Burrows, but this time theres a far tougher prison that needs to be broken out of. Its a little less claustrophobic than the last one, but more dangerous. And along with the usual terrific supporting cast of characters, the tension, twists and violence that underpin the show are all very much present and correct.
Powering Prison Break forwards, of course, is the pin-up star Wentworth Miller, who owns his role as Michael, and grounds many of the shows extremities. And while its a shorter season than the first two, this third run still manages to cram in some strong entertainment.
Perhaps season three isnt Prison Breaks finest hour, and perhaps the concept has diluted somewhat since the show first began. But this is still really good, assured entertainment, that knows what it wants to do and simply gets on with it. For that alone, it remains a show hard to resist. --Jon Foster
In retrospect, its amazing that Prison Break got this far. The original concept of the show surely demanded just a single season, but such was the success that it enjoyed, that further runs followed. Its to the credit of the shows creators that it managed to make this work, too, right down to the agreeable fourth and final season.
Thus, this final season of Prison Break sees Wentworth Millers Michael Scofield attempting to hunt down The Company, the organisation thats been behind the various events that have befallen him over the course of the shows run. As youd expect, this quest is laden with some dramatic twists and turns, in keeping with the spirit of the show, and its also got some major surprises up its sleeve.
Determined to bring things to a proper close, this final season of Prison Break does indeed bring things to an appropriate conclusion. Its a fairly bumpy ride in comparison to the more confident earlier seasons, and its clear throughout that this is a show coming to the end of its lifespan. Yet its still very slick, and very enjoyable television drama. Its also willing to take a few chances, which is certainly appreciated.
With 24 episodes in all, this final season of Prison Break is a fine denouement for one of the most exciting TV shows of recent times. It might not be vintage quality by the standards that the programme has set itself, but its still proven to be a far tastier dish than many of the pretenders to its throne. And it will be missed.