Retro Review: ‘Prison Break’

This drama focuses on a prison designer who gets himself thrown into one of his own prisons to help his falsely accused brother escape death row. Described as in the vein of The Great Escape (and also compared to “24” due to its compressed time frame and season-length plotline), the series will unfold over 22 episodes, charting the course of a single break – FOX

7 out of 10

If you like shows like 24 and Lost, you’ll like Prison Break. It’s not that it’s like these two shows at all, but it’s edge-of-your-seat excitement with a weekly cliffhanger and a whole bunch of mystery thrown in every week.

Although, the later seasons were not nearly as well-received as the first season, the entire four-season run is pretty good overall. What hurt it overall was that critically acclaimed first season which was so good that it simply didn’t leave the writers with anywhere to go, so for the following three it became a little contrived and very convoluted revolving around government conspiracies and frankly, some really unbelieveable premises. Without a doubt, season one was a 9 to 9.5, though.

Now, is this to say that the show was awful for seasons two through four? No, not at all. Despite all of its flaws, confusion and at times general eye-rolling silliness, the show was very effective for four seasons for two reasons.

First, it did exactly what it was intended to do and that was keep you guessing every week with new mysteries, frenetic action and compelling mysteries and suspense. Second, and this is the most important aspect ot this or any show, the characters were richly developed and wonderfully casted… all of them.

That being said, I think the problem that most folks (audiences and critics alike) had with the show is that it never approached the level of quality that season one was acclaimed for. Often we confuse that for being bad. It was never bad, it just never was as good as that first season.

As a final note, if you decide to go back and give PB a chance, I would highly recommend the direct-to-video 90 minute movie/episode, Prison Break: The Final Break (2009) that was released after the series finale. As a new PB adventure, it’s OK in and of itself, but what’s important about it is that it ties up a lot of loose-ends and gives the series as a whole a sense of closure that was absent in the series finale.

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you can watch all four seasons of PB for free through the Netflix streaming service and PB:TFB is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD for rental.

‘Hawaii Five-O’ (CBS – Monday, 10:00 p.m.)

When Steve McGarrett’s father is murdered, he decided to return home to Oahu in order to catch the killer. The governor offers him the opportunity to run a new task force where he is able to call the shots. Detective Steve McGarrett brings together his own team, beginning with Chin Ho Kelly; an ex-Honolulu Police Detective and former protégé of McGarrett’s father. Kelly has been assigned to a federal security patrol after being suspected of corruption. Detective Danny “Danno” Williams is a New Jersey cop who recently moved to the island and is raising his 8-year-old daughter. Kono Kalakaua is Kelly’s cousin and a rookie officer, fresh from the academy. McGarrett’s team is giving full backing from the governor and plays only by their own rules. – CBS

The Preview (Posted on 9/15/2010):

Shawn: Way to go CBS for making this show sound like every other dry, formulaic cop show.  Thank God for trailers, eh?  I have to say,  I was just going to recommend the pilot and only the pilot simply for the sake of novelty (and the great cast). Watch it, know it’s probably going to be crap-tastic and forget about it. Then I saw the trailer below.  This isn’t Hawaii Five-O, this is friggin’ Alias in Hawaii with cops and it looks great!  Back to that great cast, you’ve got Alex O’Loughlin (The Shield) as McGarrett, Scott Caan (Boiler Room and the Ocean’s Eleven films) as “Danno,” Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, 24) and the smoking hot Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) as Kono Kalakaua.  This one of the best casts of any show this season and I’m really glad to see Kim in a more prominent lead-role where he actually speaks his native language for a change… which of course is Eastern Pennsylvania English.  Heck, he didn’t even have to move for this show considering his last gig was on Lost for six seasons which is was of course, also filmed in Hawaii.  And, by the way, I am well aware that for a cop show the amount of action looks ridiculous.  That’s part of the reason why it appeals to me so much.  I mean, crap, if you’re going to go camp, go all the way… and we’d better see Wo Fat, too or I’m writing a letter.  This is another definite must-watch show.

The Review:

8 out of 10

Shawn: It’s becoming very easy to write reviews when the trailers really do an excellent job of telling you exactly what a show is all about and you don’t pay any attention to the show description on the network’s website.  Hawaii Five-O was exactly what I suggested it would be.  It’s a great fact-paced action show and the premise (albeit absurd but it was absurd for twelve seasons of the original series) of having the “Five-O” task force autonomous and only answering to the governor allows the audience to suspend disbelief to be able to enjoy all of this fantastic, frenetic action that would seem more appropriate in a Michael Bay film than a Monday night cop show.

The show is not all flash and no substance.  The pilot presented excellent and well-defined back-stories on all of the characters and really made it clear that even with all of the action involved, they can keep you entertained with a compelling story for an hour.  The cast is great and they play well off of each other with the best relationship being between McGarrett (O’Loughlin) and Williams (Caan).  It’s a typical straight man/comic routine with Caan’s biting sarcasm propelling the dialog between the two.  It’s thoroughly enjoyable all the way around and I highly recommend it.

Watch full episodes of Hawaii Five-O, here.