Saturday, September 09, 2006

Prison Broke

This post will contain spoilers for the first three episodes of the new
series of Prison Break, so if you've not seen them but intend to do so,
best skip it and go read Simon's views on Farscape, or Tim's on the new
series DVDs
or Phil's stripped down version of his new First Doctor orgy
story or Stewart's...well, you get the idea.

For those of you who remain, I give you a big whine (it couldn't really be
called a review) about Prison Break season 2, or Prison Break: Manhunt as
it's reputed to be called (only not in the titles).

Which highlights the first problem I have with the new show. The first
season worked because the escape plan read almost exactly like the
brilliant Infocom adventure game based on Douglas Adams' HHG2TG, in that it
involved very convoluted and disconnected actions which if done in exactly
correct order proved to work in a satisfyingly logical way (i.e in the
opposite to Lost which, as I've mentioned before, resembles a very early
adventure game where any and all events are basically arbitrary and death
and escape might as well be decided at the beginning by a quickly written
random number generator).

This was only possible because the prison setting provided a backdrop of
unchanging characters and locations which meant that when things went wrong,
Michael's back up plan could be worked out by the viewer (if they can't go
through the pipe bcause a janitor had the hole sealed up, then the only
other way into the clinic is via the locked door - now how can they get
through that door?).

Some of it was fairly implausible, granted, but it's a TV show so allowances
can be made so long as we don't head into 24 style massive coincidence
territory (in the same way that no-one in Rose's family smokes or swears in
the latest series of Dr Who).

The prison setting also added a moral leavening - Michael and Linc are
goodies, as is C-Note (as the obligatory flashback episode demonstrated)
and, largely, Sucre. T-Bag is about as evil as you can imagine, Abruzzi is
an amoral gangster and the other two (whose names escape me for the moment)
are, respectively, a creepy and insane wild card and a complete prat. Away
from the escape team, there are good guys and bad guys on either side, with
Pope and Bellick representing the two sides of the penal officer coin and a
group of (largely faceless) supporting criminals and officers in between.

Now they're out though, the've lost all that and we do seem to be heading in
the direction of 24 and its enjoyable if ridiculous co-incidences and
insane flashes of character inspiration.

In brief, following Michael Schofield's brilliant breakout along with his
Death Row brother and assorted malcontents the lads have split up and are
all heading seperately to Utah, where $5 million dollars have been hidden
by a now dead con. On their trail is FBI guy William Fischner, a man with
a mind to match Schofield's, and Brad Bellick, previously a prison guard at
Fox river, but now an unofficial bounty hunter following his dismissal for
corruption in the wake of the escape.

It's a decent setup, but sadly the writers have got a bit carried away and,
in order to keep the tension ramped up sufficiently high, have already had
to resort to the level of foolishness so beloved of 24. At the end of the
last season, T-Bag had his hand chopped off with an axe in a dirty shed by
Abruzzi. Not only did he not collapse with shock or bleed to death (or be
re-captured for that matter) he evaded everyone looking for him and
immediately found a handy vet to stitch the hand back on again without
anasthetic. O...K. He then overpowered the vet before he could make his
escape, tied him to a table and injected with some kind of lethal concoction.
O.....K. Finally, he put some blond streaks in his hair using some handy
peroxide (easily the world's least effective disguise), stole the vet's
clothes and his car and headed to Utah. O.............K.

Meanwhile, Haywire (the creepy one, I knew it'd come back to me) appears to
have disappeared on a bicycle and hasn't been seen since (Abruzzi has also
temporarily gone to earth), whilst Tweener (it's all flooding back now) is
pretending to be a student and has snagged a car share to the Mormon state
(which was originally going to be called Deseret, fact fans) - this in spite
of making no attempt to disguise himself even though his face is on every
paper, TV station and wall in the country. Well, whatever.

Let's see, who else? C-Note is at the end of episode 3 sitting outside his own
house but luckily no-one at the FBI is bothering to watch it, even though he
of all the escapees was most likely to head home.

Which leaves us Michael and Linc. Things were looking up in the
believabilty stakes for a while - the boys were recognised by almost the
first person to look at them, Linc got shot in the leg as they made their
escape and although they managed to hide out at Michael's pole-dancing
ex-wife's flat (again, aren't the FBI watching anywhere?) at least the pain
of getting shot wasn't played down in true TV style to a minor inconvenience
- it was played as though it actually hurt a lot.

For a while.

Sadly, after a bit of vodka, a quick bandage and what must be some kind of horse
tranquiliser (lucky the ex-wife had a decent supply of ketamine substitute
in the house) all that was forgotten and Linc was soon jumping about and
crawling into blazing cars without impediment.

Oh yes - the blazing car. Decent enough plan to throw the Feds off their
trail, fake a car crash and all that, but are trained FBI forensic experts
going to be fooled by placing two medium sized plastic bags of blood in the
passenger seats and then setting off what was in truth a pretty minor
explosion? And even though I know it's TV convention to have no-one look up
as escaping men climb a bare hill a hundred yards away from the cops, it
makes it no less annoying. Luckily Bellick had figured out to track the
ex-wife (out of all the people he could have tracked who would seem far more
likely to lead him to Schofield) so at least there'll be something happening
next week.

One good thing - the actress playing the evil Vice-President behind the
framing of Linc refused to appear in the second series (she preusmably read
the scripts) so the annoying Veronica has been shot. If only Obligatory
Troubled US Teen LJ had been killed too, things might have been looking up.

Unfortunately - like the cops at the bottom of the hill up which our heroes are
climbing - it really isn't.


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Blogger TimeWarden said...

No-one in Rose's family passes wind either whereas every other character does! Dunno if it counts but the Slitheen manage half a swear word in "WWIII", "Oh boll....", just before being blown to smithereens!!

And, on a not entirely unrelated topic, in "Love & Monsters" Elton should have told Jackie you're supposed to wash dark colours separately!!!

2:33 am  
Blogger SAF said...

I've not seen any Prison Break, but I risked all those spoilers and that was an entertaining read. What if I just skip the show and just stick to reading your comments on it? :)

10:44 am  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Unless I get round to actually buying the DVDs I suspect I'll be doing the same with you and Farscape :)

And being blown to smithereens was the high point of Slitheen presence in the last but one season...

5:23 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

Stuart said: "Unless I get round to actually buying the DVDs I suspect I'll be doing the same with you and Farscape :)"

That'd be fair enough, given that the DVDs are (as they would say in the Farscape universe) frelling expensive. I'm lucky in that a mate of mine wants to sell his nice and cheap, but in order to fill in the gaps in his collection (soon to be mine, hahahah!) I'll have to shell out a fair 'bob or two'. Still, I've recently sold a TARDIS and I know I'll get plenty of watching out of a Farscape collection...

8:17 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Yeah - wish I'd spotted the TARDIS, I was thinking of getting one for {cough} Cameron.

8:38 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

Yes...this would be one of those "Dad, can I have a go?" toys, wou;dn't it ;)

8:44 pm  
Blogger alienvoord said...

"smokes or swears"

It's a childrens show!!

As for Lost, the point of Lost is that the island forces characters to deal with the choices they made in their past lives. None of the weird, apparently random stuff makes sense unless seen from that perspective.

If you're watching just to see what it all means, you'll be disappointed.

12:15 am  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

AV:"It's a childrens show!!"

Well yes, but the point I was (largely in jest) making was that a lack of believability is forgivable in a TV show - which you're agreeing with, I think (it's a family show so they can't realistically map real life).

AV: "None of the weird, apparently random stuff makes sense unless seen from that perspective."

We differ here - I suspect that none of the wierd random stuff (polar bears, clouds of black flying dust and the like) makes any sense unless seen from the perspective of the writers making it up as they go along :)

12:21 am  
Blogger TimeWarden said...

Dunno why I bother to remember this stuff but Jackie did swear in "The Christmas Invasion" near the end when they confront the PM!

12:28 am  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Tim: "Dunno why I bother to remember this stuff but Jackie did swear in "The Christmas Invasion" "

She's a brazen slut, that one...

9:03 pm  

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