Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Prison Break Jumps The Shark

OK, that’s it. Prison Break, after an awful season at the Sona Prison, has broken out of that storyline and officially jumped the shark. For those of you who don’t know what that means, the phase comes from a 1977 episode of the Happy Days, when Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli jumped over a shark while water skiing. The scene was laughable, and viewed as a desperate attempt to revive the ratings of the dying series. So now, when a show is said to “jump the shark” it means that the writers have done something so ridiculous, or out of character, that is suspends belief and alienates fans. Sometimes new characters or meaningless plot devices can contribute.

In the case of last night’s season premier of “Prison Break,” I think it was the entire 2-hour show.

The acting was flat and downright horrible. It seemed like everybody was going through the motions. Worst of all was the introduction of Donald Self (Michael Rapaport), who ropes the gang into helping work against “The Company" to get the "Scylla" data cards back. It seemed like he was doing no better than reading lines off a cue card. If he was supposed to be cold, or calculating, or even intimidating, he just did not work for me.

I also found it hard to believe that this rag-tag group of people, which include idiots like Bellick (Wade Williams), are expected to pull off a “Mission Impossible”-like job to get back these data cards with information about Scylla, when no one else has been able to do it. What was a joke was that to get at the card – of which they originally thought there was only one – they have to get into a house that supposedly has impenetrable security. First they get a reading device into the maid’s bag – way too easy – but then, when the maid leaves it in the house, they have to break into the house anyway to get it back. And breaking in was too easy. Setting off an alarm in one house to draw this super-skilled security detail off the house they were supposed to be guarding was just silly. Bottom line is, the house wasn’t so impenetrable after all, seeing that they basically walked in, and walked right out. And there was an easier way to get the card back. She could have found the maid again at the bus stop, saying she thinks she accidentally dropped her PDA into the maid's purse, and could the woman check for it, or get it back? No, that would be too simple.

I could accept the fact that Sara Tancredi was alive, seeing that I never though the head in the box that Linc (Dominic Purcell) saw really was Sara to begin with. Still, it seemed that the chemistry between her and Michael seemed to have evaporated. Yes, they seem to be together, but the spark is missing. It’s not just the fact that Sara was tortured and has been in hiding, I think it’s the whole magic between Wentworth Miller (Michael) and Sarah Wayne Callies (Sara) is gone.

And please, I found the whole burning off of Michael’s full-body tattoos to be ludicrous. First of all, I don’t think someone could remove a whole body tattoo in one treatment without anesthetic. Second of all, I don't think he'd be standing or walking around so soon afterwards, much less wearing clothes on his scorched skin.

Since there has to be someone who is out to get the entire prison break crew because “The Company” wants them removed, we get a new bad guy, Wyatt (Cress Williams) who serves as a one-man killing crew. After all, since Kellerman (Paul Adelstein), who was one of the best bad guys around, had long been out of the picture, they needed to put someone in there just to make for a chase. Snore.

We are also expected to believe that the whole team – well except maybe Linc – is willing to put all their animosity aside just to get their hands on Scylla. And even Linc seems to be too resigned to the fact that he has to work with the team. Still, Sara, at one point, seemed to be smiling and laughing at Bellick, which seemed hard for me to rationalize. Of course, the only person who seems to be able to hold his own, no matter what his role has been with the entire process, is Mahone (William Fichtner), who in my opinion, is the only person able to pull off consistently decent performances in each episode, no matter what he’s doing.

Even T-Bag (Robert Knepper) who seems to have nine lives, is wearing thin. The line "Eat some bad Mexican?" that was dished to him seemed initially funny, and then, not so much. After all, for just snacking on his traveling companion, he looked a little too clean for me. But, since T-Bag has the bird book that is so critical to finding Scylla, I guess we’ll have to contend with him for a while longer.

A disappointment was that Gretchen (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), who initially seemed to be targeted for certain death, is still alive. Personally, I rather liked the fact that she would be out of the picture. One never knows, maybe that bullet that Whistler (Chris Vance) took to the head was really just a flesh would and he’ll be resurrected soon as well. Anything apparently can happen in teh Prison Break universe.

But even more incredible is that despite all that everyone that was in that hell hole prison Sona is back together, including Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), everyone seemed healthy and well. Especially Mahone, who looked nothing like the drug addicted head case we saw at the end of last season. I expected all of them to look a little worse for the wear.

Now that we know there are five more Scylla data cards that they need to find, this means that the season may wind up being more of the same of what we saw in the season premier. It may not be enough for me to rekindle my interest in the show, but at this stage, I feel I have to finish what I started and continue to watch, just to see how it plays out. But I’m not sure I’m going to like it.

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1 comment:

Music Wench said...

LOL I actually thought this show started getting unbelievable once they all went to the same prison in Mexico. Escapees, prison guards, FBI dude, etc.

I have to admit the only reason I kept watching through all that was William Fichtner. I've seen him a lot of movies and television shows but until this series, I never really got to know his name. Now I'm a huge fan.