Prison Break is about to return for a fourth season in September 2008, after its truncated third season ended earlier this year. However, this television series might just be in need of a break of its own!
A recap is probably in order. Prison Break was the breakout series of 2005 for FOX Television, wherein a successful engineer named Michael Scofield (played by then newcomer Wentworth Miller) goes to jail to free his brother Lincoln Burrows (played by Dominic Purcell) who is wrongly accused of a crime because of a government conspiracy against their father. Having worked on the prison as an engineer, Scofield tattoos the blueprint on his torso and begins to plan the prison escape with his brother, after getting himself thrown into the same prison.
Although the plot was original enough for television, elements of the storyline were drenched in outrageous improbability and intense farcicality. However, audiences found themselves pardoning the implausible aspects of the show, mainly because ultimately Prison Break served up episodes that kept audiences largely entertained. It was all rather fascinating to see Scofield cogitate each week to come up with new ideas as he kept finding his pre-determined plans undermined by his antagonists. The end of every episode sunk a hook in deep enough to ensure the audience would return the following week. And we did. The series was, in a word, fun!
Season two, which was much anticipated and long awaited, started off in 2006 promisingly, as we tuned in to see Scofield escaping with his brother Burrows, tackling hardship and hurdles along the way as they try to get to Panama, where the brothers believe they can live in peace. The series started tottering about the fourth episode in, for the simple reason that whilst the story in season one was contained focus-wise on the brothers mainly, in the second season with six other prison escapees, six other storylines were forced to be conceived.
In addition to these additional subplots causing the series to turn unwieldy, one could sense that even the scriptwriters found the task of maintaining interest and equal focus on each of the storylines extremely unmanageable and what we got instead were extremely weak and diluted subplots that in return foundered the entire second season. In addition, the last few episodes, even the aspects pertaining to Scofield and Burrows and the government conspiracy, were given such lackluster attention that one could only describe season two of Prison Break as one big mess in the end. It was almost like watching a van laden with too many things wobble and go off the tracks due to the overload!