Day 96: Prison Break, Season 1 (2005)


Believe it or not, I never used to watch much television (says the person who DVRs so many shows that she has to watch several series on hulu because she can only record two things at a time). I guess that I used to watch a lot more movies in the theaters back then. I guess the theater experience was less irritating back then. Suffice it to say, there is a little gap in my personal television viewing history. I didn’t really watch Lost. I heard rumblings about Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t think I even knew what Firefly or Battlestar Galactica were (and I call myself a geek!). Although, in my defense, I have since seen Firefly countless times. As DVDs of TV shows became more prevalent, I started adding a bunch of stuff to my queue. Funny enough, I am realizing at this moment, that I didn’t add the shows I just named to my list. Crap, I guess I have to add them to see what the hubbub was about. Yeah, I know. Stop yakking and get to the reviewing.

 

Prison Break was one of those shows I missed when it was on the air. I know it was super popular, but it must have conflicted with Iron Chef or something, because I never even saw one episode. And so I lived my life, having never seen Prison Break. Then, one fateful Christmas party, I met someone who highly recommended the series to me. Not one to resist a highly praised show, I put it on my list to watch. Honestly, the show’s concept never really appealed to me enough to watch it on my own. However, last week my husband was sick for two days, and he started watching season 1. The result? We were hooked and watched all 22 episodes over three days.

 

Prison Break stars Wentworth Miller (that’s OK, he can have a name like that: he’s British) as Michael, a structural engineer who holds up a bank in order to be arrested and sent to prison. Once in the slammer, he plans to rescue his imprisoned brother, Lincoln (played by Dominic Purcell, another Brit), who was set up for the murder of the vice-president’s brother. Michael and Lincoln have to rely on the help of a small group of prisoners to bust out of the big house while a lawyer on the outside (Robin Tunney) tries to clear Lincoln’s name.

 

Although I have never been in trouble with the law, I can see how Prison Break would offer excellent advice on how to draw the good old get out of jail free card. Here are some important tips from the show:

  1. Tattoo cryptic messages and maps all over your body before you do a crime. Not only will this make you fit in with the inked crowd, but it gives you an air of mystery. It helps if you draw crap on top of the maps (thus making them near impossible to read unless you are certifiably insane). Also, make sure the clues are really vague. Sure, chances are you won’t remember what “the goldfish crows by the elephant pit” means by the time you are through with the months of legal hearings needed before you are sent to the joint; but that’s not the point. You don’t have to know what the messages mean– the writers do.

  2. Always tie your shoes. Yes, it’s something your mom used to tell you, but it really comes in handy. Prison Break has so many close calls where prisoners are almost caught tunneling their way out, or someone turns up missing (I know, how can someone turn up missing?). However, every time the guards check on a seemingly absent prisoner, he always appears. Turns out, he wasn’t hiding in the walls at all, he was simply tying his shoes behind a table or another prisoner. Duh.

  3. Wear lipstick. So, I don’t really understand it either, but everyone—both men and women—seemed to wear lipstick in the show. I can only assume it was part of the plan. I think the shade was “On the Lam Pink,” which they later renamed “Temptress.” It makes your eyes pop.

  4. Apparently prison guards are easily duped. Go ahead, appoint a lookout while the rest of your inmate partners dig through several inches of concrete. Chances are, the guards won’t think anything fishy is going on in a room full of prisoners with sledgehammers while the door is closed and one of the inmates lingers outside like a bouncer only to yell at the rest of the crew if the guard happens to move in your direction. Perfectly normal.

  5. All prisons are apparently built by the same people who designed the Starship Enterprise. There are hallways that lead nowhere in particular, rooms that are filled with steam (just ‘cuz), and levels that no one knew existed until an episode called for something “different.” The prisoners should have just searched for the teleporters and not bothered with their silly escape routes.

  6. Everything—and I mean everything– in an escape attempt should all be close calls. I don’t care if there is an three hour window when the entire facility is watching the 3D director’s cut of Avatar (they are being punished, right?) and you could easily make a run for it with plenty of time to spare. Instead, wait until there is about 3 minutes left of the film and then go. Gets the adrenaline pumping.

  7. The higher the body count the better. Although you may have good intentions to free a wrongly imprisoned man whose execution date is set, try to get as many people (innocent or otherwise) hurt/killed as possible. I lost count of how many people were casualties because of Michael’s rescue mission. Off the top of my head: a prison riot occurred which injured several people and resulted in a nice guard’s death, Michael’s nephew’s mother and husband were gunned down, a lawyer and his father were offed, an agent trying to help exonerate Lincoln was murdered, a woman killed herself as a result of the break out (not zits), a man’s hand was chopped off, another prisoner had his throat slit, a young prisoner hung himself, a legally insane prisoner was framed for beating up Michael, several members of the staff were hurt during the escape attempt, a kind prisoner was stabbed and bled to death slowly over the period of a day, and a cat was killed (no! Not Kitty Galore!!). But at least Micheal has good intentions, right? Right?

While watching the first season of Prison Break, I couldn’t get over how dated the technology looked in 2005. Most people had clunky flip phones. They made a big deal about texting as if a little fairy flew the message to the recipient personally. Sigh, I miss the text message fairy. She was cool.

 

I have to admit that as cheesy as Prison Break was, I actually liked watching it. It was a fun show, filled with suspense. However, I was kind of getting tired of being teased that the prisoners would almost escape, only to have their plans foiled umpteen times. Perhaps this show would have been better if it had a shorter season. There were some problems I had with the show– like the stereotyping of prisoners, the European actors suddenly losing their American accents randomly (or are all mafia bosses Swedish?), and plot repetition. I find it hard to believe that there are four seasons of it– how many prisons can they break out of?–but sadly, I know I will watch all of them.

 

Thanks for reading and have a fantastic day!

 

Score: C+

Netflix Watch Instantly Queue: 209 (I added Prison Break Season 2, Battlestar Galactica Season 1, Lost, and Grey’s Anatomy Season 1. Hey, people talk about these shows, OK? That has to mean something.)


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