September 8, 2008
By Brian Seiler
Where We Left Off: Having Broken out of Prison the first season, gotten back into a different Prison in the second season, and Broken out of that Prison in the third, the show was rapidly running out of capitol P’s and B’s. Michael was pissed off at The Company for killing his girlfriend, T-Bag was pissed off at Michael for leaving him to die simply on account of T-Bag was a horrible murderer, nobody was pissed off at Michael for getting them into this mess in the first place, the english language was pissed off at the show for turning everything into a proper noun, and Sucre was in jail. After their daring escape, Michael faced off against his arch-nemesis – the girl from Nash Bridges otherwise known as Gretchen – in what might have been the single most disturbing pop culture intersection of the past ten years, Whistler turned out to be a company operative, everybody got away, and the plot just kind of dangled there like a limp salmon behind the fish counter.
And Then: The show’s writers, having discovered they had written themselves into the corner, simply threw the whole operation to bugger all and decided to start over. Understanding that the prospect of the only hot woman left on the show for the good guys (Lincoln’s and Whistler’s shared girlfriend) receiving the wiggle pickle from a guy made up to look old enough to be her father might be a touch disturbing, they laid down their pentagram, worked some plot necromancy, and brought Sarah Tancredy back from the dead. They also liquidated Whistler (but not until they placed him clearly on the side of righteousness, puppies, and rainbows), erased Michael’s elaborate tattoo, killed another character’s family to design a motivation for him, introduced a new criminal (on account of none of the existing characters were smart enough to operate a keyboard without a user’s manual), mystically busted all the remaining jailed inmates out of their horrible prison in Panama, and brought in famed series murderer Michael Rappaport to ensure that we wouldn’t have to suffer through another year of this bullcrap come next fall. That was the first hour. Now these fellows have been coerced by the government into becoming a sort of new A-Team, except not one of them is either a likable old man OR arguably the most famous black American of the 1980s for no good reason. Oh, and instead of having interesting, DIFFERENT adventures every week, they’re now wrapped up in some sort of keycard espionage scam ripped straight from the plot of Bionic Commando. Apparently, once they get all the chips they can decode the secret message, at which point I assume Captain Kangaroo will send them decoder rings and they can all live happily ever after. Oh yeah, and Michael has a brain tumor, because there wasn’t already enough going on.
Respect: You know, I kind of have to give it up to Brett Rattner, because you KNOW that this could only happen on a production with his name attached (he’s the executive producer). In the tradition of horrible other horrible sequels attributable to him, this show has set aside significant prior developments in the series to take us down a road that we didn’t want to travel in the first place. Hopefully this one won’t end with a voiceover from Patrick Stewart. Nonetheless, it takes a certain amount of balls to totally revamp your show like this. I call that specific quantity a Thatcher. Now, if only they had just thrown the whole series premise in the toilet and started over with the same actors but a completely different plot, they might have gotten a pair.
On the Whole: If you’ve come this far, well, what else are you going to watch at 8:00 PM on a Monday? Let’s hope that the anticipated spinoff, Prison Break: Cherry Hill (the twist? – it’s in a women’s prison, and I am seriously not joking about that title) learns from its forerunner’s mistakes. New viewers could jump on if they wanted to, but I can’t imagine why they would, unless they’ve just received a horrible head trauma, in which case they probably ought to be at a hospital instead of in front of the television.