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A lot better than I expected it to be
on 14 October 2013
Okay I'll start by saying that this show is extremely far fetched. Not that I've been to prison, but I can't imagine a super max facility in the US being so laid back about giving their prisoners (one of whom is on death row) access to pick axes, sledgehammers, crowbars and a whole host of other potentially deadly weapons. Fair enough, these guys are part of a very select group who get to do maintenance but still, I just don't see it. Nor do I find it at all believable then when Lincoln is awaiting exection in solitary for attacking a guard, he would be allowed to keep a box of matches so he could strike them and watch them burn down, looking thoughtful while he does so.
I saw the adverts for Prison Break way back when it was first aired and remembered looking at Michael Scofield's tattoos and thinking "how can that be a map?" It's not a map per-se. More his way of remembering his escape plan. Scofield is revealed to have a genius level intellect and the type of mind that can formulate extremely complex ideas which the rest of us wouldn't be able to create, nevermind retain. His tattoos are his gentle reminders and fail safe in case things go wrong. And they do. Every episode.
Scofield deliberately has himself incarcerated at Fox River where his brother is on death row for a murder he swears he did not commit. This show really has two plots running; Michael's attempt to break his brother Lincoln out before his execution and Veronica (Michael's friend and his brother's lawyer) and her attempts to clear Lincoln's name. Veronica is thwarted and pursued by the Secret Service representing an organisation known only as "The Company" who are alleged to have framed Lincoln for the murder of the Vice President's brother.
You know that as soon as you switch the show on that something'll happen to screw up the plan, and it will end on a cliff hanger. I think if you take Prison Break as simply entertainment then you'll enjoy it. There are lots of shows coming out the US at the moment that have a lot more depth than this, but for something to sit down and watch without having to think too much abut it, Prison Break meets the requirements really well.
Scofield cannot escape the prison alone though, and does need to utilise the prison connections to get what he wants. He needs the Chicago mob boss on his side so he can make use of his transport once out of the prison. He needs his cell mate's silence for digging from the cell, he needs the mysterious but elderly trustee's alleged money to make his disappearance after escape... and in this we're introduced to some of the more colourful character in Fox River, usually the characters who are the most notorious in the prison population.
That said, the characters are perhaps a bit on the stereotypical side but I did find them likable despite their backgrounds. T-Bag is probably the most interesting in terms of development. Initially portrayed almost identically to Bloggs from The Shawshank Redemption (a sleezy look at the young lads who come into the jail, taking one 'favourite' for his cellmate) he does change somewhat when he stumbles across Scofield's break out team. T-Bag is actually quite a funny man, charming, intelligent but also ruthless, cold, manipulative and self centred. Not someone you'd turn your back on but for all his faults, he has his uses.
I admit I've enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to and will continue to watch the remaining 3 seasons. It's got more than a few plot holes and is almost completely unbelievable it's so far feteched but for something to watch to pass away the long winter nights, Prison Break does the job nicely.