Fox // 2006 // 961 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 3rd, 2007
Breaking out was just the beginning.
One of TV's craziest, most unbelievable (as in "I am having a hard time believing what is happening right now") action hour-longs hits DVD running and if you've ever longed to be made physically exhausted by episodic television, here you go.
When we last left Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) and his brother Michael Schofield (Wentworth Miller), they were running wildly though the woods with police dogs and helicopter chasing them. Also, I had a monster headache.
The first season of Fox's prison-escape hit centered on Schofield, a brilliant guy convinced his brother was framed for a murder he didn't commit. Schofield gets himself into prison and some elaborate plotting later, he, his bro and some undesirables are on the run. This is where Season 2 picks up, and because this is an incredibly serialized series, don't expect many details in this synopsis.
Lincoln and Michael and the cons that made the jump with them are all looking for something, be it money, an estranged girlfriend, a family or a boat trip to Holland. There paths will intersect and loyalties swill be tested and meanwhile a tenacious FBI agent with a shady past named Alex Mahone (William Fichtner) relentlessly pursues the fugitives. But to what purpose does he serve the over-arching conspiracy that started this whole cluster-F in the first place?
This is a draining show. The writers pack so much in these episodes, so many twists, character arcs and hairpin narrative turns that after 22 episodes I had never been more fatigued by a television production.
I dug the first season and was enjoying the sophomore effort, but the thing with the world of Prison Break, extended stays become too much to bear. Before the first commercial break there are like 15 double-crosses and by the end of an episode, you're left with a massive cliffhanger and a handful of game-changing plot twists. And you would think that week-long layovers between subsequent episodes and said cliffhanger resolutions would be a tough sell, but I found Season 2 to be so hyper-kinetic and brain-busting, those interludes became welcoming reprieves.
Add to that, Prison Break stretches believability to unparalleled lengths, more so than any other TV show I've ever seen, and that includes Lost and 21 Jump Street. The primary aspect of the real world that takes a beating in the series is the legal process, which in the PB universe has been abbreviated considerably. You could be arrested, tried, convicted, imprisoned and approached by a corrupt FBI agent to become a rogue bounty hunter, all within the span of two days. Meanwhile, a blatant conspiracy runs rampant, and no one seems to notice the body count or their common sense.
But, let's be reasonable, Prison Break is not supposed to be Dateline. Credibility and realism are traded for thrills and if you ask the writers, the fans, hey, even me, in this case, that's a swap worth making. As a generator of neck-snapping plotting and high-octane action, Prison Break has no peer. This show is always moving, with relatively no downtime. Car chases, shootouts, near-misses, forceful arrests, painful bludgeoning and more than a little psychosis, brought to a life in a top-notch style that looks almost theatrical, ensure that the series is always moving forward -- actually, rocketing forward. Since this season is devoted solely to the cons running for their lives, the nature of the writing demands that all hell breaks loose constantly. Sure some of the side-stories don't work as well (Sucre's pursuit of his girlfriend didn't quite seem worth the trouble he was going through), but the storytelling was engaging where it counted, namely Lincoln and Michael's attempts to claw through the web of weirdness that surround their lives. And the addition of Fichtner as the loose cannon Mahone -- Michael's equal in smarts and tenacity -- was brilliant.
So about this set. Right off, I have to say that these episodes receive amazing transfers. Easily the finest-looking television series this side of standard-definition, Prison Break Season 2 sports some fantastic picture quality. Details are mind-blowing and the color levels are just right. A solid 5.1 audio mix supplement the awesome visuals perfectly, totaling a hugely impressive technical experience. For extras, each disc except the last one has two full-length audio commentaries with a mix of actors, writers, directors and producers. On Disc Six, there's a nice thirty-minute making-of documentary focusing on the reinvention of the series for the second season, a ten-minute featurette about the location shoot and three-minute, trippy techno remix of the series theme.
It's exhausting and as grounded in reality as the Battle of Hoth, but Prison Break is just about the purest action/suspense show on television, and this season pulls out all the stops. The slick production values and breakneck pacing outweigh the shortcomings. And what a looker this one is.
Not Gui -- hey, come back!!!
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 961 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentary
* Behind-the-Scenes Documentary
* Location Featurette
* Music Video
* Season One Review
* Official Site