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Prison Break: Season Three(TV) (2007-2008)
Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) finds himself once again imprisoned – but this time at SONA, a Panamonian Prison without rules and without guards. Along with fellow inmates T-Bag (Robert Knepper), Mahone (William Fichtner) and Bellick (Wade Williams) and with the outside aid of brother Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), Michael not only must fight to survive, but is also tasked with breaking out of prison…again.
For more about Prison Break: Season Three and the Prison Break: Season Three Blu-ray release, see Prison Break: Season Three Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 20, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 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 Three Blu-ray Review
Fox delivers another high quality release of "Prison Break," but where is season two?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 20, 2008
The worst of the worst are there. Men no other prison can take. What goes in never comes out, unless it's dead.
Season three of the popular and critically-acclaimed television drama "Prison Break" is here, but with no sign of season two to be found on Blu-ray. If you recall my review of season one, I was most impressed with both the program and the quality of its presentation on Blu-ray, as were many fans, both those who were established and those new to the series thanks to its splendid Blu-ray release. Sadly, Fox has foregone the second season of the show on Blu-ray, skipping it altogether and leaving many newcomers to the series on Blu-ray with a conundrum. Do they buy or rent season two on DVD prior to picking up this set on Blu-ray, or do they read up on what happened in season two somewhere on the Internet, buy season three, and enjoy? I must admit going into this review a bit discontent and disappointed that I cannot enjoy and review the second season on Blu-ray prior to reviewing the third. Unfortunately, time constraints and review deadlines leave me little time for viewing outside of review material, so I'm forced to do what I can to catch up on season two and dive straight into the third season. As I type with the main menu of disc one playing in the background with the familiar and satisfying Prison Break theme looping, I do find myself excited to return to this fictional world, but at the same time the absence of season two lingers like a terrible aroma that serves as a constant reminder of my disappointment with 20th Century Fox in this matter.
Last we saw the "Prison Break" gang on Blu-ray, they had broken out of the Fox River Penitentiary. Westmoreland, who had told of a stash of cash hidden away, was dead, and the inmates were on the run with the money and evasion on their minds. Now, as we begin season three, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), Officer Brad Bellick (Wade Williams), T-Bag (Robert Knepper), and "new" character (introduced in season two) Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner), find themselves incarcerated in a tough, unsupervised, every-man-for-himself Panamanian prison called Sona. Michael's brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), has been exonerated and is in Panama City fighting to free his brother from this hellhole of a prison. The brothers' lives take yet another turn for the worse when Sara Tancredi, Fox River's former doctor and Michael's love interest, and Lincoln's son LJ (Marshall Allman) are kidnapped in Panama City, their lives threatened unless Michael can break out a mysterious inmate named Whistler (Chris Vance) from Sona, an escape-proof prison.
"Prison Break," now headed into its fourth season (which is set to debut on September 1 of this year), remains riveting television. Shortened by the writer's strike to a mere thirteen episodes, the season is condensed yet remains focused and intense with wonderful character development, new alliances, new enemies, and the same rapid-fire pace and heart-stopping climaxes that made the first season so utterly successful. Season three does take its time developing, an observation perhaps influenced by not seeing season two but rather reading through episode summaries on the Internet. Seeing the characters from season one so changed and relocated with little sense of the nuances of their development and progression physically, geographically, and mentally no doubt hindered the drama of the first few episodes of the season and proved to be quite the jolt. Nevertheless, season three becomes as enthralling as the best season one has to offer, taking the same premise of a "prison break" but changing all of the details. No longer is prison life regulated by guards; no longer do inmates receive three square per day; no longer is there a medical facility to escape to and care for your wounds and illnesses, and most importantly, no longer are there detailed plans with which to plan an escape. Sona is best described as "hell on Earth," a place where guards surround only the exterior perimeter of the prison, where a warlord-like figure oversees the daily routines, and where the rules of society and civility are worth less than a glass of filthy water. Season three plays in stark contrast to season one, and Michael must rely on his cunning and guile yet again to break out of prison, this time with more help (and hinderances) on the outside but with nothing to guide him on the inside.
Like many good television shows that carry a single arc through their entire seasons, like "24" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Prison Break" offers viewers a relentless assault of cliffhangers, plot twists, and escapes from unescapable situations with convenient yet riveting and mostly believable scenarios. "Prison Break," perhaps more than any other show I've seen, does rely on convenience to resolve situations and allows for predictable troubles to hamper the best-laid plans of cons and Company. Who doesn't see, for example, a well-planned escape attempt that relies partly on the sun to go bad when heavy cloud cover hides the light and foils the plan? Like season one, season three makes Michael Scofield either the smartest or the luckiest man alive, but his character development is such that we never need to take much of what happens with a grain of salt. Season three, outside of a few over-the-top convenient moments, pulls no punches with its characters, all of whom are brilliantly written and, generally, equally well-acted. Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, newcomer to season three, plays her character Susan with a blend of toughness and street smarts, bringing this relentless character to life, and we cannot help but hate her only partway through the season. Likewise, the show's established lead characters shine. Perhaps the most fascinating to watch is Wade Williams' character, Bellick, who has undergone a disturbing and somewhat depressing transformation, going from unlikeable prison guard in season one to a sniveling shell of a man and inmate in season three. Again, while we can pick up on what happened to him and the rest of the characters through context clues, flashbacks scenes, and dialogue, not seeing the development unfold over the 22 episodes of season two partially hinders the impact of the entire season.
Prison Break: Season Three Blu-ray, Video Quality
"Prison Break" breaks out on Blu-ray with a 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. The first thing many will take note of on this set is the gritty look of the show and grainy nature of the episodes. Grain permeates many scenes, adding to the feelings of despair and pressure, and the poor living conditions at Sona. Black levels are generally solid, although they appear somewhat gray and uneven at times, and the darkest scenes throughout the show, notably those sequences taking place in the underground passages below the prison, exhibit the most grain. Still, this season is just as eye-popping as season one from start to end, notably during the many outdoor shots where detail is anywhere between remarkable and awe-inspiring. Resolution and clarity aren't as high as they were in the last season in some scenes, but the gritty, extra-grainy nature of the program seems responsible and is not a hindrance. Some scenes downright shine, notably bright exterior shots under the hot Panamanian sun, where sweat glistens off faces, emanates from pores, and facial detail is striking. The transfer seems three-dimensional at times as characters practically come out of the screen and into our living rooms, so striking is the depth and detail seen in many shots. Sona's interior offers up quite the array of objects to behold, from the dirt and sand-covered yard to the rusted bars of the cells to the worn, dirty walls throughout, and the disc reveals many details that look good, even under the copious amounts of grain. Colors are not very vivid, but are more natural and not blown out of proportion. Finally, flesh tones appear natural in every episode. "Prison Break: Season Three" is another first-class transfer from Fox. Here's hoping season two eventually arrives on Blu-ray with an equally inspiring transfer.
Prison Break: Season Three Blu-ray, Audio Quality
"Prison Break" arrives on Blu-ray with Fox's usual high definition lossless audio option, DTS-HD MA 5.1. This is a well-balanced track that never falters no matter the material thrown its way. Whether showcasing whisper-soft dialogue or eardrum-rattling action sequences, the track remains consistent in its presentation, never failing to immerse audiences with a near reference-grade audio experience. A drama at heart with action elements thrown in, the show is dialogue-centric and this aspect of the disc shines. There is, at times, a rumbling boom to voices, and dialogue is occasionally lost under the ruckus of music, action, or prison atmosphere during rowdy sequences, but generally you'll find dialogue pleasing, focused, and plenty loud. Ambience and atmospherics are also impressive. Check out the first episode of the season in chapter 12 when Scofield is at the visitation area of the prison. The sound of insects in the background engulfs us as the noise emanates from every speaker creating a seamless environment that replicates the hot, humid, insect-riddled atmosphere of Sona nicely. Much of the track, however, is front-heavy but ultimately pleasing and more than adequate. There are some good, authentic-sounding sequences. Listen to the alarm that goes off in episode seven, chapter nine. It fills your entire listening area with its blaring and is so loud and penetrating that it places you in the middle of Sona during one of the most crucial moments of the entire season. Likewise, the car crash sequence later in this same episode is an amazing sonic achievement as it permeates the senses with both volume and clarity across the entire range. Episode eight, chapter 12, features an all-out firefight and assorted other loud sounds that are just as entertaining and engaging as what we would expect to hear in a first-rate action movie. These are but examples of the well-rounded audio presentation that is to be expected from this release. It hits all the right notes and serves as a springboard to allow us to dive into the show. "Prison Break: Season Three" is yet another fantastic audio offering from Fox.
Prison Break: Season Three Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, "Prison Break: Season Three" is nowhere near as feature-packed as the first season. With only four short features and no commentary tracks, fans may be disappointed with this offering. Season 3: Orientación (1080i, 16:59) is a short but decent feature where the cast discuss their characters and working on the show. All of the primary characters from season three are featured, and each has a few minutes of face time. Break Out Episode (1080i, 13:25) is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the season's next-to-last episode. Next is Director's Takes. Presented in 480p, these features showcase director Kevin Hooks guiding us through the making of key scenes in each of the season's thirteen episodes. Finally, Between Takes, again presented in 480p, is a series of brief vignettes that focus on life for several of the actors and actresses when they are not in front of the camera.
Prison Break: Season Three Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Prison Break" continues to be one of the most captivating shows television has to offer, and season three, while short, is nearly as exciting and nail-bitingly intense as season one. The story is somewhat lessened and a disconnect exists by the absence of season two, but for those with the time and willingness to rent or buy the second season on DVD, I wholeheartedly recommend doing so, even though I have yet to see it for myself. Skipping season two of "Prison Break" is like watching Star Wars and jumping right into Return of the Jedi with no knowledge of what happens in The Empire Strikes Back. You'll pick it up over time, but not seeing it for yourself and learning what happens second hand does not have the same impact as actually watching the program. For those willing to purchase season three now, you won't be disappointed by the nuts and bolts of the release. The show is fabulous, and Fox has once again provided outstanding picture and sound quality across all thirteen episodes. Fans may not be happy with the lack of supplemental materials, but this is the only blemish on the set. I'm a firm believer in viewing television programs like "Prison Break" on home video to drastically reduce the wait time between cliffhangers, and at thirteen episodes, "Prison Break: Season Three" is a fast watch and will quickly catch you up in time for season four, if you are so inclined to watch it on television rather than wait for a DVD and possible Blu-ray release. This set is recommended, as is a push by Blu-ray fans to ask Fox to release season two sooner or later, hopefully before or coinciding with a home video release of season four.
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