Ah Prison Break. Your title sounded so silly to me when it was first revealed and I hesitated watching your premiere. I conceded, however, when a friend of mine told me that the show was entertaining and would make an adequate replacement until 24 started airing, I decided to fill the Monday night Fox void with Prison Break. While the first season had a slightly slow start, by the time the show was airing back-to-back with 24 it might as well have been called “heart-attack Monday.” I can still clearly remember the riot episode from the first season ending suddenly and moments later, 24 starting. Quite an adrenaline rush.
With the boys breaking out of Fox River at the end of season one, fans were wondering where the show would take them in the second season. Fans didn’t need to wonder for long—the show returned and started out running (literally), with the show picking up exactly where it left off. Slowly through the season our boys are taken out and whittled down to a small group who is still on the run, even if they’re separate from one another. Towards the end of the season the gang reformed, only to be trapped inside of a Mexican prison—one that made Fox River look like Barbie’s Awesome Fun and Safe Playhouse.
There were plenty of twists and turns in the second season and never did I find it getting dull. While I missed the interaction with all of the cast members (and Peter Stormare’s character dyeing greatly annoyed me—through his character in Prison Break and his role as Satan in Constantine, I became a big fan of his work), the new on-the-run dynamic never grew old. It always created a sense of tension in every scene and you never knew what was going to happen.
In addition to the returning Fox River Eight, Sara Tancredi and a few of the shady government people, this second season also introduced a few new characters. William Kim (Reggie Lee) was immediately the unlikeable FBI agent who everyone wanted dead, while Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner) developed a love/hate relationship with the fans that I think, for me anyway, eventually turned entirely to love. Ficthner did a superb job in the season and Wentworth Miller (Michael Scofield) and Dominic Purcell (Lincoln Burrows) also took their characters to new places this season. Miller played an un-hinged Scofield brilliantly and I even have to commend Robert Knepper, as his “T-Bag” grew progressively more repulsive throughout the season, even if he did slightly redeem himself in spots.
After all was said and done in this season, there was little not to love. Nearly all of our characters expanded past their jailed-in personas and while we lost a few here and there, it’s remarkable how many did end up surviving. The redemption of Paul Adelstein’s character, Paul Kellerman, was also great to see as I always liked that guy for some reason, even when he was a villain in the first season. His stepping forward in the court room really made you respect the character more, as he always did think he was merely doing the right thing after all these years.
Overall the second season of Prison Break, while not nearly as strong as the series first, and is still a great thrill ride. While there’s not much to see here once you’ve watched all of the episodes, what is there is thrilling and makes up some of the most entertaining hours of the past television season. Here’s hoping the show can return to its roots without feeling like a re-tread in its third season—after all, the first two seasons were really just Michael’s plans being played out. Surely getting caught in a second prison was not on his plans. And if it was, then he’s a horrible planner. Highly Recommended.
Prison Break’s first season was one of Fox’s more impressive DVD sets, packing on a nice array of commentaries as well as featurettes on the show. The second season is no different and it continues the trend by having a stylish and eye-catching box set cover, with Miller and Purcell on the cover. Interior thin-pak art has the cast all striking their own “bad ass” pose and discs are adorned with small images from the show, likely because there were too many characters in this season to have their mugs devoted to individual discs. Menus are laid out the same as the previous season, offering up individual menus for each episode.
The commentaries, thirteen in all, are spread across all six discs and there are plenty of awesome tidbits to be heard on them. While I grow a bit tired of listening to commentaries, especially on TV shows, at times, the ones here are eventful and highly entertaining. We get a nice mix of cast and crew on the commentaries and there’s rarely a dull moment to be had. A definite highlight of the set are these thirteen commentaries—DVDs buffs and fans of the show will eat them up.
After the thirteen commentaries you won’t feel that you need much more, but the sixth disc on the set won’t feel like it agrees with you. First up is a “Reinvention of the Series” featurette which recaps the season and goes into discussing the shifting of the series focus from break-out to run-away. When combined with the “Turning Dallas into America” featurette we get a healthy amount of cast and crew interviews, as well as behind-the-scenes footage. A lot of the actors are interviewed, both old and new, major and minor, and we rarely go without a moment where a big detail from the show is discussed.
A final extra, “Prison Break Theme: Ferry Corsten Breakout Mix” is included. While the name sounds cool, the music does not. So often these remixes are nothing more than a large thumping bass backdrop and that’s all that this remix is—I was highly annoyed by it and despite the short run time, I thought it’d never end. Not worth watching at all.
Overall this set, and season, are worth watching. Whether you pick it up is dependent on how much of a fan of the series you are; while I enjoy watching it each Monday, past the second viewing for a refresher for the upcoming third season, casual viewers may not find much to go back for. If you fall under the fan category, however, this one is Recommended.
Prison Break: Season Two is now on DVD. Prison Break is now airing it’s third season on FOX, Monday’s at 8pm (ET).