Season one of Prison Break
is great television. Here's the set-up. Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is framed and wrongfully convicted for assassinating the Vice President's brother. Lincoln's brother Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), who just happens
to have designed Illinois' Fox River Penitentiary where Lincoln is on death row, hatches an elaborate escape plan. Michael's plan involves getting himself
incarcerated in Fox River and smuggling the prison's blueprints by having them hidden in tattoos that cover his entire torso. Once inside, Michael must form alliances with a rogue's gallery of felons with their own sometimes unsavory motives. Meanwhile, on the outside, Lincoln's lawyer and one-time girlfriend Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney), pursued by Secret Service agents, attempts to unravel the conspiracy that sent her man to the slammer.
Prison Break is anchored by tight, suspenseful writing clearly relished by the largely little-known cast. Standouts include Robert Knepper as the murderer/pedophile T-Bag, who somehow makes such a despicable character likeable. Stacey Keach of Mike Hammer fame plays the warden-with-a-heart-of-gold, who clashes with Captain Brad Bellick (Wade Williams) over whether to rehabilitate the inmates or makes their lives more miserable. Peter Stormare, famous for his skills with a wood chipper in Fargo, turns in a deliciously menacing performance as mob boss John Abruzzi, while Amaury Nolasco's winsome Fernando Sucre shares a cell and secrets with Miller's Scofield. Watching the show one gets a sense that this is the opening salvo of Wentworth Miller's career, which will doubtless include roles as assassins, detectives, super heroes, and perhaps the champion of staring contests. Midway through the season it's explained that Scofield is a genius with an heightened sensitivity to other peoples' suffering, which sums up what makes the show so great--the mind-bendingly intricate plot is a framework for moments when people make others suffer and cope with the burden of their own suffering.
The six-disc set includes 22 addictive episodes, audio commentary on selected episodes, three featurettes, and alternate and deleted scenes. As with most TV shows on DVD, the "previously on Prison Break" intros can get tiresome, but that's what the fast forward button is for. --Ryan Boudinot