You learn to live with implausibilities in TV. My Hero getting a third series, Gillian Anderson being called attractive, EastEnders winning Most Popular Soap even as long-dormant coma patients switched channels to ITV. In TV land, we’ve become inured to living a life governed by the Hitchhiker’s Guide’s Infinite Improbability Drive.
"Steadman was all about charitable acts, ethical investment and renewable energy and therefore a grade-A pain in the balls who was practically begging to be killed"
Which is good news for Prison Break, FOX‘s penal drama where previously law-abiding structural engineer Michael Schofield (Wentworth Miller) deliberately gets himself convicted of armed robbery to help bust out his jailbird brother Lincoln Burrows, sentenced to death for the murder of Terence Steadman, the Vice President’s brother, a crime HE DID NOT COMMIT. Although they have got him on video shooting him and screaming "I did it! It was me – I shot the Vice President’s brother!" or something along those lines.
But he NEVER DONE IT because it’s all a BIG CONSPIRACY as Steadman was all about charitable acts, ethical investment and renewable energy and therefore a grade-A pain in the balls who was practically begging to be killed. Never mind a death sentence, give that man a coconut. Oh sorry, I forgot. He NEVER DONE IT.
“Michael stands his ground (as well as he can with three toes).”
Still, no appeal to Amnesty International for Michael – he just wants to bust the hell in and bust the hell out like a man. By a weird and unlikely twist of fate, he designed the prison that they both reside in and has the blueprints tattooed on his body, suitably disguised by the attendant Gothic skull and crossbones crap (is that a ghost pirate? Nope, it’s the main air vent).
Now all he needs is the help of John Abruzzi, the incumbent Mafia hood recently fingered by a no good rat called Otto Fibonacci. As luck would have it, Michael knows the whereabouts of Fibonacci (it’s all part of his GREAT PLAN, see) but he’s not saying a dicky bird until Abruzzi agrees to provide the manpower necessary to effect their escape.
Abruzzi tries to refresh Michael’s memory by cutting off a couple of his toes with pruning shears. It doesn’t seem to do the trick as Michael stands his ground (as well as he can with three toes).
"This horrendous act of pinky mutilation brings them closer together and they are soon bonding over discussions of the best way to get out of this bum joint"
Against the odds, though, this horrendous act of pinky mutilation brings them closer together and they are soon bonding over discussions of the best way to get out of this bum joint and leave all this behind.
Joining them in their plan is Michael’s excitable Puerto Rican cellmate Sucre and T-Bag a horrendous paedophile who stumbles upon their plan and threatens to sing like a canary if he’s not included. I want to call him Teabag – I was hoping that he was called that because it’s only when you put him in hot water you see his strength. But no, it’s because he’s a nonce and spends his time bumming the other inmates. Not for the first time with predatory paedophiles, I’m a little disappointed.
On the outside, Michael’s legal counsel Veronica Donovan fights for justice. Veronica is a lifelong friend of the boys and even used to date Lincoln. She obviously has that thing for big meatheaded cons all female lawyers have.
“‘They leave a body-count that would make the Khmer Rouge blush – broad daylight shootings, beatdowns and explosions are a daily occurrence.”
Meanwhile, secret service men Agents Hale and Kellerman carry out their vile work. It’s their job to cover up the BIG CONSPIRACY. The job description entails mooching around menacingly putting the squeeze on officials, indiscriminately blackmailing and exterminating witnesses as they arise. They leave a body-count that would make the Khmer Rouge blush – broad daylight shootings, beatdowns and explosions are a daily occurrence for these boys.
It’s not a very secret secret service we’re dealing with – Kellerman and Bozo shun publicity as effectively as Posh and Becks. You expect the photographer from Hello to bust in any minute to catch them in their quieter moments.
Fox River Penitentiary is not quite Oz in terms of senseless violence. You get more fatalities on the outside with agent Posh and Becks. No wonder people are framing themselves for crimes to get in – it’s a jungle out there. A jungle filled with homicidal loons with dark glasses, dark suits and a licence to just fuck with anyone.
"You can happily suspend disbelief for a show like this which executes its mission with a lot of verve and flair."
Does any of this make any sense?
Sure it does. Prison Break is a whole lot of fun and Wentworth Miller has a sackful of star quality. He has huge presence along with a hint of damaged vulnerability that suggests he’ll go far. We can hope he won’t get stuck with action films and boil-in-the-bag thrillers – you sense there’s a lot more to come from him.
You can happily suspend disbelief for a show like this which executes its mission with a lot of verve and flair. 24 has demonstrated that plausibility can be stretched to near breaking-point when it’s done right. If you keep it pacy and innovative we won’t mind – we just want to feel the wind in our hair as our convertible Chevy leaves town and credibility behind.
The best thing about it: Wentworth Miller – a class act
The worst thing about it: Lincoln’s son is so annoying he could go out with Kim from 24
The verdict on Prison Break : Keeping it locked down for the brothers on lockdown
Marks out of 10: 7.5