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The Writer’s Perspective : The End of Prison Break

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I was an early supporter of “Prison Break”, which it has been announced will be ceasing production at the end of the current fourth season – a lot of various news outlets immediately dismissed the show due to the involvement of Brett Ratner in the pilot, but I think a lot of those people would have to agree that for the most part, “PB” was pretty compelling viewing – for a while.

The first two seasons were actually pretty damn good – the first focusing on the actual break-out had some great characters – Peter Stormare as John Abruzzi; Muse Watson as Charles Westmoreland – and just for the fun of it, they even threw in Holly Valance for me to look at. But the point is – they had the good hour-long scenario set up nicely, every episode finished with enough buzz to get me psyched for the next, and by the time the penultimate episode “Go” aired and the actual escape took place, I couldn’t wait to see what was next. The finale, titled “Flight” was a very quick paced look at those initial moments after the gang had made it over the wall – and when the original escape plan falls through, the show ended with the guys once again running for their lives.

“Prison Break”, alongside “Lost” & “Heroes” generated an enormous amount of Buzz during that first season break – and I was lucky enough to see a few little inside tid-bits about the forthcoming storyline at the time which had me psyched for what was about to happen – there were stories circulating that “PB” would become a modern day update of “The Fugitive” (many of the moments I read based on this concept were later adapted into the current season); That the gang would be captured early on in the piece and placed in a “Supermax” Prison where they would left to come up with a new plan from scratch – and that the second season would be the intended end of the show, with Michael & Lincoln finally finding their conspiracy evidence in the final episodes.

So when the second season started, I was surprised to find that none of those concepts were utilized – and instead it was a straight forward “take the money and run” storyline – but more importantly, it worked well, and again proved to be compelling – the introduction of William Fichtner as Agent Mahone was an important part of the story, becoming that brand new (slightly dirtier) incarnation of “The Fugitive” pursuer, Philip Gerard. The season flowed well, moving through small town America for the most part, but importantly – the story was supported by some great twists & turns, but when the news came that FOX had renewed the show for a third season, the feeling of dread came in – that feeling that they were really gonna milk the living shit out of this particular cow – and for something that could very easily have finished on a high, with everything resolved, I started to get a little cynical at how the second season was gonna wrap up, and while it wasn’t a horrible ending – I wasn’t looking forward to the next go round.

Turns out the feeling was justified – the (thankfully interrupted by the Writer’s Strike) 3rd Season of “PB” was as close to a complete clusterfuck as you can get in a show that showed so much promise. A mess in so many ways, the setting of SONA was a thinly veiled attempt to remake the first season in a new setting, and I started to completely lose interest after the first few episodes –and eventually stopped watching altogether. I picked up the box set of season 3, purely to keep up with the collection, and after watching the remaining episodes, I think I was pretty spot on with my initial thoughts – “PB” had lost its spark.

To its credit, “PB” started to pull back some quality in the current season, the “On the run” pace of season 2 was back, but viewership was way down compared to the glory days, and the execs at FOX made the decision to pull the plug – apparently they have allowed the makers to wrap things up in a satisfactory manner, and there may even be one or two “special” episodes commissioned to further close the books, but in the end, the old saying of “Too much of a good thing” is a fitting reminder of why sometimes it’s a good idea to go out on a high, rather than stretch it out.

But when it was good – you have to admit, it was pretty damn good.

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