Review: Prison Break 3×1

Prison Break

In the US: Mondays, 8/7c, Fox

In the UK: Mondays, 10pm, Sky One. Starts 24th September

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: Several

Major new characters: An entire prison-full

Format change percentage: 50%

Have a look at the title of the show. Prison Break. Two words. Prison and Break. There’s not a lot of room for manoeuvre, is there?

So plot of season one: Prison. Plot of season two: Break.

What’s season three going to be about then? Have a guess. Prison again?

You betcha.

That’s not to say that the producers of Prison Break haven’t messed the format around a lot. Now Michael “Cunning Plan” Schofield is in prison and brother Lincoln – exonerated and a free man now – is on the outside, trying to get him out. Except the prison is in fact Thunderdome, Panama, and looks like a male version of Chained Heat, rather than a dumber version of The Shawshank Redemption.

Since Prison Break operates at a different level of reality from our own, said prison is still crammed full of just about everyone the brothers Schofield have ever met, ranging from FBI agent William Fichtner, through former prison guards who used to abuse them, and former prison mates. The Panamanian version of the UFC, complete with informal octagon, is run by the inmates, the guards having abandoned the place ages ago, although chief inmate (Bunny from The Wire) still manages to get CNN and yoga DVDs somehow. And these are bad ass inmates who laugh at those less fortunate than them, but never ever swear, in case it upsets their mums. There’s also a new evil scheme hatched by evil people who need Michael’s help now for some ridiculous reason we don’t yet know.

Fans may be worried to hear that a number of season two cast members are still MIA. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you who or why, but I suspect some will be turning up sooner and some later – and some not at all. It’ll be a touch Russian roulette-ish as to who, but that’s Prison Break and you should know by now not to get attached to anyone.

But fans will be delighted to hear it’s as entirely ludicrous as before. With Michael having just a week to extract himself and whoever else he chooses to bring along for the ride (Tina Turner?), those disappointed by the lack of cunning plans hatched by the younger Schofield last season should prepare themselves for some astonishing thinking inspired by that tattoo of his. I’m banking on a bullet-proof autogyro cobbled together from old beercan ringpulls using a template hidden in a picture of Mick Hucknall behind his right knee.

Remember, you heard it here first.

Newcomers, though, shouldn’t really think about rejoining at this late stage without having caught up with the intricate silliness of season one first. Go on, give it a try. You know you want to. Leave your brain at the door first – you’ll enjoy it all the more that way.