Prison Break, created by Paul Scheuring (A Man Apart) with a pilot directed by Brett Ratner (After The Sunset) has gotten under way with a two episode premiere. In short, the first episode was overstuffed. The second episode was promising indeed.
In the pilot, there was simply way too much work to be done and perhaps more work than was actually needed. Aside from the whole deal of getting our hero, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) into the prison in short order, there was stuff with a troublesome bishop, the outside-the-wall troubles of John Abruzzi (the great Peter Storemare a.k.a. Karl Hungus) and the familial difficulties of Lincoln Burrows (John Doe's Dominic Purcell). That last bit didn't really seem to achieve much and as Linc the Sink's child's mother is Jessalyn Gilsig (a regular on Nip/Tuck) and don't know how much farther it could go. It isn't even referenced in the second episode. The thing with the bishop may pop up again later (as I get the sense that the entire first season fits together like cogs in a machine), just at first glance, it seemed to be nothing more than an attempt to answers some questions before they got asked. And there's a lot of that in the first hour.
The final reveal of the pilot was both cool and stupid at once. It's certainly a clever idea (that I won't spell out), but they pushed it just a bit much with the "look closer" trick. It will make for a great plot device in the future.
The second hour (directed by Mike Watkins) was much more entertaining and engaging. It's here that we start to see Scofield's plan get under way and that he starts to run into the difficulties that could not be planned for very well. It also starts letting up on how much raw information is being thrown at you. While there are still a great many subplots, they are all clearly heading in one direction.
Overall, the show is clearly riffing on the general 24 vibe and it feels like it, and like 24 will require a little extra suspension of disbelief. The show is really supposed to be a roller coaster and you have to let go a bit to enjoy the ride.
The cast is fantastic, and they are really a part of what makes this show engaging. My favorite so far? The guy with the cat who may or may not be D.B. Cooper (Muse Watson). If his place in the machinery is what I think it is, then this is one of those credulity-straining plot points. In switching off a little bit of the logic center of the brain he could turn out to be a fun and intriguing character.
If the show keeps up the tone set in the superior second hour, that of watching an intricate puzzle come together, then I'll be hooked for the rest of the season. I'd even be inclined to spec, but I think the status quo will be way to morphy to give a spec a shelf life of better than a couple of weeks. It's my understanding that if the show goes to a second season, that second year would feature the escapees as fugitives outside the wall. That's a whole different show right there.
Now, a note on my complete selling out. Yeah, I'm putting ads on here. Big deal. It's not like I stabbed you in the knee with some sharpened rebar. It will only be for stuff that I like. Stuff I have purchased, intend to purchase or would purchase if I had the scratch (which if the ads work, will help out a bit). I like TV DVD's but it can get expensive and every little bit helps. Advertising is not inherently bad (mostly). This must be understood.