This past fall season, I had so many shows on my schedule that I chose a few series to PVR and watch them over the holidays. One of those shows was Prison Break. The first season of the show was full of twists and turns, lots of excitement, and had that unique premise of a guy with the plans of escape tattooed onto his body (as long as viewers didn't think too hard about the fact that there's no way in hell that a prison system would put a guy into the very prison that he designed). At the end of the season, they broke out. All of the summer lead-up said that while Michael was the brains inside, his brother Lincoln, who was more street smart, would be the brains on the outside (they were wrong). The action would follow the men as they tried to get to Utah to find the $5 million that one of the other inmates told them about just before he kicked the bucket. It sounded like it could be good. And then the show got so insanely stupid, I've decided to give up. I've actually watched all the way to the end of the "fall season finale" (what crap that Fox has to label it like this, like EVERY show doesn't break for Christmas), and even though I knew this show possibly boasted the most inconsistent, problematic writing on television about 6 episodes in, it became a game with my husband and me to try to spot all of the errors in every episode. But there are things that stood out that I hated most of all, and I'll list them (Warning: Contains spoilers for episodes up to the most recent one).
1. I HATE Lincoln Burrows. He's an idiot. A braindead, stoney idiot, and the actor who plays him, Dominic Purcell, has about as much charisma as a statue. Over the summer, the guy has bulked up, even more than last season, so this season Purcell INSISTS on wearing all of his shirts wide open, with the top 4 or 5 buttons undone so we can see his Well-Formed Pecs (see photo above). It's like the writers hate him, too, and deliberately write him doing stupid things. Like walking down the street, shirt unbuttoned, in broad daylight, with sunglasses but no hat. People running into phone booths calling the police, Lincoln walking along thinking, "Uh... duh... hmm... duuuuuuuI wonder who they're calling?!" There was a scene shortly after they'd broken out where Lincoln was standing in a parking garage making a cell phone call, and Michael's in a car hotwiring it, and there's Lincoln, standing WAY out there, while another guy looks at him, opens his car, looks again, goes to get in, stops, looks again, and Lincoln's staring at him, no hat, shirt unbuttoned, thinking that maybe the guy thinks he's totally hot. Later, they go to a woman's house pretending to be from the hydro company and they tell her that there's a broken cable they need to fix under her garage. T-Bag, Michael, and Tweener all have matching outfits, white shirt underneath, with the blue hat. Then in walks Lincoln, wearing the outfit, without the hat, shirt unbuttoned. The damn character was becoming an outright parody at that point, and hasn't turned back. Problem: He's the lynchpin of the entire series. If he hadn't been framed for the murder of the vice-president's brother, his brother Michael wouldn't have held up a bank, gotten a body tattoo, ended up prison, and broken out him and half a dozen other guys. Michael's a decent, smart guy, and every episode I find myself yelling at the television, saying, "WHY?? WHY?? Why did you throw your life away for this nitwit?" And of course, Lincoln has no gratitude for what his lil' bro did for him. When his son, LJ, is let out of prison, he leaves Michael, with Michael standing there saying, "Uh... DUDE! I did all of this for you and... I mean... where the hell are you... are you stupid or something??" (Note: Some of those lines may have been uttered by me, and not Michael.) And he turns to Michael and says, "You don't care about my son!! I'm going to abandon you here and take a fancy car that is instantly recognizable if we get spotted anywhere, and you can just go and do by yourself all of the stuff you planned for both of us to do together because it requires the work of two people, and I expect you to have it all done in 2 days and have a plane waiting, and I shall do everything on my own WITH MY SHIRT UNBUTTONED, damn you!" Or something like that. I hate him. Hate hate hate him. Every time there's a shootout near Lincoln, I cross my fingers and begin to pray that one -- just one -- of those bullets will find its way into Lincoln's temple, but so far, nada.
2. The time problems. OK, you've got Mahone, played by the always brilliant William Fichtner (who I will always think of as Rod/Josh from As the World Turns, the guy who raped Iva and got her pregnant with Lily, and then years later he came back into Lily's life and she was all like, "Daddy! I love you!" and he became a strong part of her life and actually became close friends with Iva and they became parents to Lily together ... only Fichtner could have pulled a role like THAT off). He's in Chicago, slowly going completely mad trying to chase the Fox River 8... I mean 7... oh crap, it's 6. Then he's in Utah and New Mexico and you name it. Meanwhile, there's Sarah... also in Chicago, or New Mexico, or wherever she feels like being that day. And you've got Michael in Utah and Sucre EVERYWHERE and C-Note is off somewhere with his family and T-Bag is just following everybody else. But for the most part, the plot jumps between Sarah, Mahone, and Scofield. Scofield will be doing something, Mahone finds out where he is, Sarah hears something about Mahone, and so we know all of the events are happening simultaneously. And if you pay close attention, Sarah's story will span a day and a half, and Scofield's only about 3 hours, and Mahone's about 12 hours, and yet they all end up at the same point, contacting one another. The time on this is ludicrous. Most recent example: There's a scene with Michael and Sarah in a hotel in New Mexico. She gets cold feet and leaves while he takes a shower. He gets out of shower, reads her goodbye note, looks all sad. Cut to her in car, rethinking things, and then she gets out, and there's Kellerman, waiting for her. He takes her to a hotel (same one? probably different one nearby) and begins torturing her for information, probably about 20 minutes have passed. Michael? He's out on the road, somewhere near the Mexican border. Huh? Mahone has jumped on a plane, headed to Hawaii, taken a vacation, decided to return to the police force, returns 2 weeks later, and calls Michael to tell him that (or something... maybe not exactly like that).
3. The completely unbelieveable coincidences. This show is the DaVinci Code of television writing. In that book, Dan Brown is SO excited to get to his BIG TWISTS that he forgets to write anything remotely plausible leading up to each of them. Same goes for almost every episode of Prison Break. For example, Michael tells everyone to meet him at Bolshoi Booze. Mahone checks the name in the computers, in 411 searches, yellow pages, you name it. He tries moving the letters around. Then he chucks the paper in disgust, and steps out of the car. He's chatting with someone when he looks back in, and now he sees that BOLSHOI BOOZE, when turned upside down, is a series of numbers (32008 1085708). And of course, he immediately punches it into a GPS thing and boom, knows exactly where Michael's gonna be next. I'm looking at this thinking, "Ok, he gave that hint to LINCOLN?? No way. Sucre? Not exactly a rocket scientist." And at exactly the moment he told them to meet him, there they all show up (of course, nary a GPS among them, but hey, they just KNEW IN THEIR HEADS where those coordinates would lead them) and Sucre makes some inane comment about "could you have made it more difficult?" or something and I just wanted to take my TV back to the store at that point.
4. I really don't care about the characters enough to give a toss what happens to any of them.
- They've suggested Bellick is going to be raped in his cot in prison every night and what, I'm supposed to weep for him?
- I can't believe C-Note took his little daughter away from her loving mother in an attempt for them all to be a happy family, and then the first chance he gets he's all, "hey, honey, could you go into that pharmacy and get some meds that you TOTALLY FORGOT TO RENEW even though you knew we'd be on the run for the next, oh, I don't know, FOREVER" and she's all "Ok, honey" and into the store she goes, "Sorry, I only have 100s" and oh, there we go with the stupid coincidences, the pharmacist just HAPPENS to have the wanted poster lying on the very desk she was counting out the pills on, and it's not of the Fox River 6, it just HAPPENS to be of C-Note and his silly wife, and she's all, "Um... I have to change this 100 in the back" and knowing her life is hanging in the balance, wifey's all, "OK, sure, as long as you bring back my 75 bucks, because I'd rather risk my life for 75 bucks then hightail it out of here" and then she gets caught by the police. So now the little girl, who had a daddy in prison (she didn't know that, they all thought he was in Iraq for frak's sakes) but was happily blooming in her little school where she was always painting and telling stories, is now on the run with her fugitive daddy while her mommy is going to be slapped silly in a jail somewhere as the cops try to find her husband.
- T-Bag is the most loathsome person on television (maybe Gaius Balthar is a LITTLE bit worse, but they're pretty much neck and neck at this point) and I don't care what happens to the chickie he's tracked down or him, to be honest. Since she greeted him at the door as if he was the Domino's pizza delivery boy, I'm assuming T-Bag's going to go into the house, begin to torture her, but then some pimply 16-year-old kid is going to save the day. Awesome.
- Lincoln? If I hear that he gets hit in the temple with a bullet, I'll start watching again. But I doubt it, so I won't.
- Michael? Good guy, brilliant guy, but he's ruined his life for Lincoln. So... not worth my time.
- Sucre? Loser.
- Sarah? Meh. Don't care. She's got the key on her keychain which is so obviously something you stick in a USB port that has all the info on it, but she's stumbling around the streets in shock. But don't worry, they'll figure it out... and just as they do the key will be mangled in some key mangling accident and that'll be that. New season, new time to try to free Lincoln.
- LJ and blonde chick who is quite possibly the sister to Lincoln and Michael? Nah, don't care.
- Bill Kim? Bugs me. Don't care.
They shot William Fichtner at the end of the episode, and he was the best thing about it. Don't care about the rest.5. They use a complete psychopath as HUMOUR. Yep, Haywire is there for the laughs, folks. He's a guy who seemed fine until one day he totally snapped and killed both of his parents (he was on My Name Is Earl this week as the naked guy on his front lawn wearing nothing but a yellow python wrapped around his body, so he's a little typecast, you might say). He's been in maybe two episodes, watching kids make out at a Dairy Queen, and was last seen standing on a shore telling a dog he'll put some sticks together and build a raft to go to Holland. HAHAHAHAHA... ha... he..... ahem. Yeah, I didn't laugh, either. He's possibly the most dangerous person out there, but hey, cops just see him as the FUNNY guy who killed his parents and is otherwise totally harmless, so let's just let him run loose. Ugh.
6. THEY ARE NEVER GOING TO GET CAUGHT. Doesn't matter what happens, Michael will find his way out. Every. Single. Time. Just when it looks like "Whoa, and how will he get out of this one?" he gets out of this one. This show could go on for 40 years. Think of the possibilities. Border Patrol Office Break. Panama City Break. Retirement Home Break.
It was fun while it lasted, but it's too bad the momentum died with the beginning of season 2. But then again, it's Fox. What do we expect? If they don't cancel it before it gets a chance (Firefly) or cancel it when it's proven itself to be awesome (Arrested Development) or cancel it when they have people completely hooked (Reunion) they finally find their one breakout hit and they run 10 episodes and then go on hiatus like they did for 3 months last year, or they put all of the writers on serious drugs and turn out dreck like this. No thanks. Everyone's who's complained about Lost stringing us along for too many episodes without revealing much? Check out Prison Break and you'll see the danger of showing all your cards too early and trying to reveal something CONSTANTLY. You run out of ideas, and become a caricature. With episode 1 of season 2, someone went and left a window open. By episode 6, I'd slipped one leg out the window and was looking back, wondering if I was making a mistake. But by the finale, I was long gone, and the feds will never find me.
Bye Michael. May you dump the extra weight that is your brother, and find peace away from all of them.