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Prison Break: Season One(TV) (2005-2006)
Most men would do anything to get out of Fox River Penitentiary, but Michael Scofield will do anything to get in. His brother Lincoln has been sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit, and the only way to save him is from the inside out. Armed with secret prison blueprints and an impossibly intricate escape plan, Michael gets himself incarcerated, and the race against time in on. Now, he'll need all of the cunning, daring, and luck he can muster...along with the assistance of some of the prison's most vile and dangerous felons.
For more about Prison Break: Season One and the Prison Break: Season One Blu-ray release, see Prison Break: Season One Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 29, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Kevin Hooks
Starring: Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper, Sarah Wayne Callies, Wade Williams (II)
» See full cast & crew
Prison Break: Season One Blu-ray Review
One of the best shows on television is now one of the best Blu-ray sets to date.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 29, 2008
A man's down, you give him your hand.
The Fox Television Network may very well be the quintessential network when it comes to prime time drama. The network burst onto the scene in 1993 with the cult hit turned worldwide phenomena The X-Files, a show that ran nine full seasons, piecing together an interstellar tale of government conspiracy and alien abduction. That show, along with other must-see series like The Simpsons and Beverly Hills, 90210 put Fox on the map, and since those show's successes, the network has produced several mega hits including 24 and the prematurely cancelled Firefly, not to mention a string of popular reality shows, headlined obviously by American Idol. One of the network's newest hits is Prison Break, a unique and at times spellbinding series that is engaging, smart, well-scripted and acted, and, most importantly, leaves the viewer wanting more. It's an unmitigated success and now holds the distinction as the network's first foray into the high definition disc market, and this Blu-ray release is an unquestionable triumph.
Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller, Underworld) is a highly intelligent, extremely motivated, and exceptionally resourceful man. He's also about to land himself in prison. Deliberately. His brother is Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell, Primeval), a man who finds himself on death row, awaiting execution for the murder of the brother of the Vice President of the United States, a murder he claims he did not commit. Scofield is a respected structural engineer and it just so happens that his firm designed the prison where Lincoln is living out the remainder of his life, the Fox River State Penitentiary. After certain revelations come to light about not only the guilt or innocence of his brother, but also his brother's role in his success in life, Michael chooses to do whatever he can to get Lincoln out of prison--including getting himself into prison. He's stealthily hidden the blueprints and other useful nuggets of information on his body as a series of elaborate tattoos that reveal their true meaning to only Michael himself. Once his plan is ready to go, he robs a bank and finds himself behind bars, ready to begin the process of breaking his brother out of prison with only weeks before the execution date.
As Scofield's plan is put into place, he must deal with a wide array of inmates, guards, and prison staff, all of whom have their own motives and roles to play in the escape. Michael's cellmate Sucre (Amaury Nolasco, Transformers) needs to get out of prison before he loses his girlfriend to another man. John Abruzzi (Peter Stormare, Fargo) is a former mob boss who needs vital information regarding a rat who is now in the witness protection program, information only Scofield can offer, at a price. T-Bag (Robert Knepper, Hitman), a convicted murderer and resident scumbag, weasels his way into the escape with detailed knowledge of the plans. He'll squeal to the officers if he's not allowed in on the fun. C-Note is a former Marine who has been dishonorably discharged from the military. He conducts illegal activities when he cannot land a job stateside and lies to his wife as to his whereabouts when he is sent to prison. Westmoreland (Muse Watson, I Know What You Did Last Summer), a "seasoned" con with time to spare (and a cat to care for) can provide cash to the escapees in exchange for letting him in on the plan so he can visit his ill daughter. Officer Brad Bellick (Wade Williams in his most famous role) is a tough, no holds barred C.O. ("corrections officer") who is onto Scofield from day one and will do anything to obtain information on what he smells to be a potential plot amongst some of the inmates. Finally, Dr. Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies, Whisper) serves as the prison's doctor and begins to fall for Scofield--both romantically and for his lies and deceit as to why he must visit the infirmary with regularity.
I am convinced that Prison Break is a show most viewers will love. There is much more to this show than a plot to break out of jail. It intertwines dozens of lives, from a common crook who is in prison for stealing baseball cards all the way up to the President of the United States himself. Even the smallest of nuances seen throughout the season end up having played some major role in the resolution of the show's final episode. The writers of the show have seemingly accomplished the impossible, penning a smart script that despite a few "easy outs" to several problems, manages to create a world where everything comes together in perfect harmony, even those that seem to be polar opposites of one another. Everything from mafia business, substance abuse, insanity, corruption, murder, bribery, extortion, religion, and political ambition weave a story wrought with tension, compassion, fear, and excitement. Each character is extremely well written and acted. Rarely has a show come together so perfectly as this one. Prison Break is a fine-tuned and well oiled machine that simply works, flows, and moves with ease and grace, creating a world that may not be completely realistic but comes across as believable nonetheless.
Second only to academia, prison is perhaps my favorite "generic" setting for a film or television program. Prison Break far surpasses the best of the best, including HBO's series Oz. It is riveting television that drew me in and didn't let up until the credits rolled on the final episode. The story is original though rather implausible, but that's perfectly fine. The show is a success as pure, adrenaline rushing entertainment, and it needs to be nothing more. Perhaps the weakest aspect of the show is the continual barrage of problems and their perhaps overly convenient resolutions, but the story is so engaging and the characters so easy to root for that being asked to accept some, frankly, absurd scenarios and trying to figure out for yourself what the resolution will be is part of the fun. It's simply amazing that the creators of Prison Break have penned a story that has the viewer rooting for convicted felons and against the law. However, each character in on the escape is given a complete background and while we cheer for the escape, we can root against some of the escapees. Perhaps the best episode of the season comes near the end. It's entitled Brother's Keeper. It is in this episode that we learn of each character's background, motivation, and reason for ending up where they are. It mostly reinforces how we already feel about each character, but it also drives the final nail into the coffin for a couple of the characters we've loved to hate since the early episodes. Prison Break is one of the best shows to hit the airwaves in some time, and while the finale was not quite as powerful as I had hoped for, the show nevertheless has won me over and has me salivating to get my hands on a Blu-ray copy of season 2. Watch it, and chances are you'll feel the same way.
Prison Break: Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
This 1.78:1, 1080p high definition image looks fantastic. I never watched this show on television and I've never seen it on DVD, but I cannot imagine either looking as marvelous as this Blu-ray version does. The image appears so good, so pristine, and so natural that it looks like a feature length film rather than a television series. Close-ups of faces are incredibly detailed and lifelike. They couldn't be any clearer if you were sitting across a table from the actor. Skin tones appear fine. I noticed no wavering in contrast. Black levels are very good with excellent shadow detail. Prison Break offers viewers two contrasting styles visually. Interior shots, most of which take place inside the prison facility, looks appropriately drab and disheartening with mostly muted colors. Only the bright blue of the prison uniforms really stands out, but even so it still get lost in the dull grayish-blue paint scheme on the walls of the building. Outdoor shots look spectacular with more vivid use of color and it contrasts better with the greens and yellows found outdoors. This image features very good depth and clarity. Prison Break is another winner from Fox and shows that the studio is very serious about their high definition content.
Prison Break: Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Prison Break's DTS-HD MA high definition audio track proved to be a pleasant listening experience. It's not as bombastic as, say, Live Free or Die Hard, but it's forceful when it needs to be. Despite technically being an action show, Prison Break is mostly dialogue driven, and it sounds just fine, presented at a perfect level that is never overly loud or whisper quiet, and it remains constant throughout. There is some nice surround effects, and the rear channels come alive with vigor several times per episode. Helicopters swoop around the room and nice nuances like blowing wind or background chatter of other prisoners come through, creating a nice, realistic effect. Gunshots are few and far between, for the most part, but they do hit hard with solid presence and proper authority. Bass is strong and powerful, but it's not a complete knockout presentation. All in all, Prison Break sounds great, far better than I expected for a television series.
Prison Break: Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The supplements from discs one through five are episode specific. I'l break down what we have on a per disc and per episode basis.
Disc One, Episode One: Pilot contains two commentary tracks, the first featuring Paul Scheuring and Dominic Purcell, while the second features Brett Ratner and Mark Helfrich.
Disc One, Episode Two: Allen consists only of a deleted scene entitled Veronica Watches Surveillance Footage (480p, 0:50)
Disc One, Episode Four: Cute Poison offers up two commentary tracks, the first with Paul Scheuring, Dominic Purcell, and Wade Williams, and the second track features Matt Olmstead and Silas Weir Mitchell.
Disc Two, Episode Six: Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part 1) contains two commentary tracks, the first includes participants Paul Scheuring, Dominic Purcell, Amaury Nolasco, Wade Williams, Robert Knepper, and Sarah Wayne Callies, while the second track features Robert Mandel and Nick Santora.
Disc Two, Episode Seven: Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part 2) has one commentary track with Paul Scheuring, Dominic Purcell, Peter Stormare, Amaury Nolasco, and Wade Williams.
Disc Three, Episode Eleven: And Then There Were 7 contains one deleted scene entitled Michael Thinks About Sara (480p, 1:50).
Disc Four, Episode Thirteen: End of the Tunnel offers an alternate ending (480p, 1:54) to the episode.
Disc Four, Episode Sixteen: Brother's Keeper features two audio commentary tracks. The first showcases Paul Scheuring, Dominic Purcell, Amaury Nolasco, Wade Williams, Robert Knepper, and Sarah Wayne Callies. The second track is provided by Greg Yaitanes and Zack Estrin. Finally, a deleted scene (480p, 0:51) entitled Sucre and Maricruz in Court is available.
Disc Five, Episode Seventeen: J-Cat has one extra, a deleted scene entitled Michael Goes Crazy (480p, 1:25).
Disc Six contains several standalone features. First up is a feature entitled Making of 'Prison Break' (1080i, 30:34). Creator Paul Scheuring and executive producer Brett Ratner discuss the background and creation of the show, their approach to making the show and casting. We also hear from actors Wentworth Miller (who comes across a very intelligent individual), Dominic Purcell, and the rest of the primary characters, all discussing who their characters are and their approach to making them as believable as possible. This is a good feature, but it doesn't offer viewers who have seen this season in its entirety anything they don't already know from watching the show. If These Walls Could Speak: Profile of the Joliet Correctional Center (1080i, 9:19) offers viewers a real-life history of the prison where the show was filmed. Beyond the Ink (1080i, 16:18) looks at the origins of the idea for Scofield's tattoo, its integration into the story, and an interview with the creator of its design. We also become privy to the method of applying the decals to Wentworth's body. Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene--'Prison Break' (1080p windowboxed, 8:24) is a fluff piece that offers only the most rudimentary of information about the show. It's aimed more at newcomers to the show that may be trying to catch up or have forgotten the basics of the story. There is a little bit of behind-the-scenes information, but there are no Earth-shattering revelations presented here, either. Finally, a promo for season two (1080p, 0:34) that shows nothing but footage from season one and several TV spots (1080p windowboxed, 4:34) conclude the supplemental materials for this set.
Prison Break: Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Prison Break is riveting television and, in my opinion, best experienced on home video (preferably Blu-ray). Call me impatient, but there are too many nail biting cliffhangers here to wait a full week or more to discover their resolutions. Before watching this set, it's best to clear your calendar for a weekend or a week's worth of evenings so you can lose yourself in this outstanding show. The only thing worse than waiting for the next episode is waiting for season two to arrive on Blu-ray, but as good as this set is, I have no doubt we'll see it soon enough. Prison Break is a phenomenal Blu-ray release. Each episode sports a fantastic film-like image that elevates the show a great deal, making it feel like an extended film rather than a television program. The DTS-HD MA soundtrack is excellent as well. The set contains a fair amount of supplemental materials for the hardcore Prison Break fans. If you have the cash and the time, this set is a must-buy and comes highly recommended.
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