Monday, September 01, 2008

Scylla / Breaking and Entering

It's been a long time since the last new episode of Prison Break. If you recall, I said at the time that I wasn't sure if I truly wanted it to continue. It had left off in a decent enough place, and had long since reached the point where it was a near parody of itself. As much as I loved Prison Break in season one, did we really need more Prison Break?

The creators seem to have answered "no" to this question, because instead of giving us Prison Break season four tonight, they kicked off what appears to be Alias season one. It appears the show is now going to be about heists and capers, espionage missions, living a secret life, and trying to bring down SD-6 The Company. Hell, we even introduced a new tech mastermind to serve the group, a shadowy government agent to run and protect the operation, and a "base" -- complete with giant conference table -- from which to plan their missions.

But lest it sound like I'm down on all this, let me state clearly I feel quite the opposite. I don't expect this show is going to live up to the quality of those first two seasons of Alias, but I feel like I really could go for a show of that tone right now. If Prison Break can become that and still be true to the characters we've come to enjoy, I think I'm on board.

But oh... not so fast, Whistler. You're not invited to this grand series re-invention. I can't say I fully understand why the creators decided to off that character. It's not that I felt very attached to him, having only seen him in the truncated 13-episode season three. But I did find it interesting what a truly graphic death it was, for prime time television. You're not seeing brain matter exploding out the back of a head during "family hour" very often.

Of course, the reason for that is so we all understand he really is truly dead and not Dr. Sara Tancredi "dead." I thought of Soapdish a dozen times during tonight's two episodes, and that hilarious scene between Whoopi Goldberg and Robert Downey Jr. ("He doesn't have a head! How am I supposed to write for a guy that doesn't have a head?! He has no lips! No vocal cords!" "Guess what? You're a writer. You'll think of something.") I never really was a Michael-Sara "shipper," so I don't much care that that element of the show has been returned. But it is nice to have a female character in the mix. And not a truly dumb female character, like too many past Prison Break fixtures have been. (Remember Veronica? I wish I didn't.)

I can't say I'm suddenly feeling real excitement about Prison Break again. But I did find myself enjoying tonight more than I thought I would. We'll see if they're able to build on this bit of momentum in the weeks to come.

P.S. -- I bet the writer of the second hour sat at his computer screen for about five minutes going back and forth about the line "What, did you eat bad Mexican?" He must have been sitting there going: "Oh, it's such a horrible joke. I can't write that down. Oh, but it's so great, how can I not write it down?"

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