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Prison Break - Season 1 review

The cast of Prison Break

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary on selected episodes, three featurettes and alternate and deleted scenes.

ANYONE who thought that Prison Break couldn’t sustain its flimsy premise throughout 22 episodes was proved hopelessly wrong come the end of the riveting first season.

This Brett Ratner-produced drama provided some of the most outrageously enjoyable viewing this side of 24, while marking another considerable triumph for Channel 5.

The premise was simple: Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is on Death Row for a murder he claims he did not commit.

With time running out his younger brother, Michael (Wenworth Miller), stages an armed robbery so that he can get himself thrown into the same prison in a bid to help his sibling escape.

But with the odds stacked against them, including a conspiracy involving the government, can they possibly pull off the impossible?

In order to do so, Michael must count on the support of a Mob boss (Peter Stormare), as well as his cell-mate (Amaury Nolasco) and several other conspirators to ensure that his elaborate plan doesn’t fail.

While working on the outside to secure a stay of execution is Lincoln’s former lover and lawyer, Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney), with the help of a dubious civil rights campaigner.

The first half of Prison Break was released on DVD earlier this year, by which point Michael had unwittingly instigated a full-scale prison riot that endangered a possible love-interest (Sarah Wayne Callies’ Dr Tancredi), while those working on the outside looked to be facing certain death.

The ensuing 11 episodes successfully maintained the momentum ahead of the season-concluding prison break itself.

Along the way, an episode entitled Brother’s Keeper offered an intriguing insight into the back stories of just about every character – from the fellow inmates and their reasons for turning to crime, to Michael and Lincoln themselves and how they came to find themselves in their situation.

While the rivalries that existed between various inmates often degenerated into violence and included the surprise stabbing of at least one key character.

The quick-thinking Michael was saddled with a breakdown of his own to contend with, while Lincoln’s date with the electric chair came tantalisingly close to being realised.

Some of the twists and plot contrivances did, indeed, seem to be straining credibility in a bid to drag things out, while the actions of certain characters also became frustratingly inept (Tunney’s Veronica in particular).

But given the fun viewers were having in trying to guess what could happen next, many of the flaws were forgiven especially since the series did not disappoint during its tense two-hour conclusion.

We won’t ruin things by revealing whether Michael and Lincoln actually made the break, suffice to say that their attempt did deliver a humdinger of a cliffhanger ending.

But the final hour, in particular, succeeded in delivering a couple of surprise deaths as well as some effectively gruesome moments that underlined the hard-hitting nature of the series.

By the time the lights faded and the show drew to a close, hearts were in mouths contemplating what could possibly come next.

Season 2 has since been filmed and is due to air in America as part of its Fall line-up. But for anyone who missed out on the first season rollercoaster, or who wants to remind themselves just why US TV is so far ahead of the rest in terms of quality entertainment, the release of the complete first season on DVD makes for essential (and fun) viewing.

Don’t miss out!

Certificate: 15

  1. I really love the programme

    milly    Oct 2    #