Monday, January 08, 2007

Top Reasons Why I'm Breaking up with Prison Break
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.


Jay Menard said...

I can't give up on this show yet. However implausible as it may be, it was entertaining last year. If I was willing to put up with a down year of Lost, I'll give Prison Break a few more episodes.

Dominic Purcell was the reason I started watching this show. I agree his character's terrible, but my wife and I loved him in the short-lived John Doe. The character I hate most is Wentworth Miller's. I mean, there's stoic and then there's flatlining. The guy's got to get a pulse. Stressed, anxious, happy, sad, angry -- it's all the same!!! He's like a modern-day Keanu Reeves.

All the best,


Crissy Calhoun said...

i haven't watched a second of Prison Break (Wentworth Miller is still the guy on the Sunnydale swim team to me) but that was some entertaining bloggin.

Anonymous said...

interesting thoughts. i do agree with a lot of your comments, but i haven't given up on the show, mostly because of the intrigue of the conspiracy behind it all. i also like seeing what happens to some of the characters, even though most people on the show are clueless.

it brings me to a thought i've had for a long time: certain shows should have a finite lifespan. "life on mars" is a great example: it's a mystery that will be resolved in two 8-episode seasons. likewise with the original "the office", which had a 2 season arc. when american shows try to wring out as many seasons as possible, they not only waters down the content and gets stuck in a rut of "where do we take this next?", they also risk alienating viewers, who get sick of being teased constantly. if, for example, "lost" was announced as a 4 season story, viewers would be more forgiving, because they would know at some point mysteries would be solved and a resolution would be achieved. i think it would also be more of an event if shows like lost were treated more like an extended mini-series.
- leor

The Chapatikid said...

Hey Niks,

I just wanted to let you know that the first thing I did when I came back from Colombia was download the season finale of Dexter. And can I say that I am in pieces over it. I LOVED it.

Nikki Stafford said...

Jay: I tend to be like you, and hold on to shows long after they're any good hoping they'll get better, which is why I refused to let this one go until I'd seen it all the way to the end of the first half. But lately, TV's just gotten SO good, I figure why waste my time watching dreck when there are hours and hours of other good things on television far more worth my time? And I disagree on Lost ever having a down time. ;)

Leor: Ditto, though I wonder, are you saying The Office, American Style, has run its course? In the past year, it's actually moved beyond The UK Office in terms of hilarity. I loved the UK Office, but never laughed at it the way I do the American one. It's nowhere near running its course, in my opinion. As for Life on Mars, just watching that now and enjoying it, and must admit I'm pretty worried about the US version coming out.

Chapatikid: Yay! We have much to discuss. I'll be blogging on Dexter soon. :)

Leor said...

i don't think the american version of the office has run its course, but the way they set up the british version, it felt like it would only be a short series (ie. right from the first episode, they told us that one of the branches would be closing, and made it seem like the whole documentary angle was a short-term thing). with the american office, they've taken it to new places and expanded it much more. not that they couldn't have done that with the british version, though.

Nikki Stafford said...

Leor: One thing I will say about the US Office, which I thought about when I was reading your response, is the documentary angle doesn't make any sense. In the UK one, they filmed them over 6 episodes, and it was over. Series 2 began over a year later, where they're all minor celebrities after the documentary has aired. But at this point the people in Dunder-Mifflin seem to constantly be filmed, with absolutely no documentary happening. That doesn't make any sense to me. Sometimes I think there really aren't cameras, it's just a postmodern gimmick they're adding where the characters are constantly acknowledging a viewership out there.

Sue said...

Being an avid t.v. watcher for many years and being a watcher who becomes committed to her shows, I am finding myself more and more likely in the last 2 t.v. seasons to quit while I'm ahead with shows that don't retain my interest or continually insult my intelligence. That said, I still do find it difficult sometimes to let go of shows that I personally don't enjoy or find worth my time anymore, especially when I watch shows that others at work watch and tend to talk about (mostly more mainstream t.v.) and shows that my sister, who lives with me, likes to watch (I don't always have control of the remote!). However, in the last couple of years, I have become more brutal and have axed many more shows in order to spend time watching the shows that continually give me what I expect from t.v. since the level of expectation from t.v. shows, writers, actors has increased with shows such as The Sopranos, The Closer, Gilmore Girls (minus this season), Entourage, Queer as Folk, Oz, Six Feet Under, Buffy, Lost, etc. I really enjoyed Prison Break last season (more than I thought I would - I was a non-believer at first) and I have continued to watch this season despite wanting to stop several times (mostly due to having a show to talk about with co-workers) but I have to thank you Nikki for bringing to the surface all of the issues with this show that have been bugging me but I was remiss to admit...I know now that I have to quit - there is better new t.v. out there (i.e. Ugly Betty and 30 Rock)Thanks for the save! :)

Nikki Stafford said...

Sue: LOL! It's like we're all at an AA meeting. "Hello, my name is Nikki, and I'm a former Prison Breakaholic."
"Hello, Nikki."
"I've been Prison Break-free for exactly 15 days."
"I first knew the show was destroying my life when Lincoln unbuttoned his shirt..."

dusan said...

I couldn't agree more about Lincoln's unbuttoned shirt! It was so annoying! Like we were watchin Fashion TV or something like that (I m not saying Dominic is fashion model- not even close)!
And what about 12 hrs+ running in the woods in S1 finalle and S2 first ep... I saw something like that only in Apocalypto few days ago. yeah, i forgot- Forest Gump too!
Anyways, great critics by nikki!

gotgat54 said...

Just got around to watching 'Prison Break'. Around Season 3, after some particularly cretinous Linc moment, I googled 'lincoln burrows stupid', and got your blog. Couldn't have put it better myself. Just some thoughts:
-- tunnel vision: an inability to hold more than one thought in his head at one time, and total fixation on that one thought.
-- tunnel gaze: a fixation of his eyes on any person or thing representing his current thought fixation.
-- no nuance, subtlety, sense of detail, weighing of alternatives. And no imagination whatsoever.
-- no forethought. When he finds the place where they're keeping Sofia and LJ hostage, he goes charging up the stairs without even a glimmer of a plan. What's he going to do do when he gets there? No idea at all.
-- everybody on the show is smarter. I mean everybody, down to the most minor of characters, the most casual walk-on.