Revisiting Prison Break Season 2 (2006-2007)

To say I’m enjoying re-watching Prison Break would be quite an understatement. I finished the first season in a few days and it only took me five days to watch the second only because the weekend hit and I had other stuff to do. No offense to my lovely wife, but the benefit of liking a show she doesn’t care about is that I can burn through them like crazy. It’s to the point where I’m neglecting most other forms of entertainment from current TV to Netflix discs (I’ve had The Road sitting here for over a week because of this show) and even podcasts, though I still listen to/watch those while cooking or playing Xbox. Anyway, I liked the second season as much as the first but I can see how it might have lost some people. While the first season involved a lot of suspension of disbelief (guards not seeing or hearing things, etc.) this one had a lot of close calls and people showing up at exactly the perfect time to save someone else’s ass. And yet, I don’t care.

The beauty of Prison Break‘s second season is that it doesn’t rest on its laurels. The drama of the first season was how or if Michael’s plan would work, how his tattoos plaid into the whole thing and whether he could trust the people he either brought in or had to bring in to his inner circle to get out. Now, some of those elements are still there (the tats still contain aspects of their escape and he can’t seem to completely escape some of his fellow escapees), but now we’re focused on survival, trying to figure out a way to prove their innocence and eluding a series of enemies all much more formidable than prison guards and fellow cons.

The key to this season, as far as I’m concerned, was found in the performances. Most of the escapees got their own stories and a chance to show what they had before leading to death or further freedom. I still have no idea what kind of accent John Abruzzi was supposed to have, but he was put to the test and failed. C-Note did his damndest to save his family, but it wasn’t an easy road. Hell, even Haywire had more interesting moments than he probably had any right to (which included a guest appearance by future Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco). But, as I’ve come to expect from this series, most of the emotional heavy lifting is done by T-Bag who runs the gamut from slithery asshole to creepy predator and charmer to lovesick fool. The writers give him a ton to do and he bears the weight with ease. There’s moments where you almost, ALMOST feel bad for the dude. The same can be said for Alex Mahone who came in this season as a kind of bad guy, a bent FBI agent whose strings were being pulled with the threat of harm to his family hanging over his head. The linchpin, though, was that he was just as smart as Michael. Another tragic figure in this story, Mahone’s path does not wind up where you would have expected as the series kicked off.

The season ends with plenty of game changers, which is another element of the series I appreciate. Like I said with the first season, it feels like the seasons are planned out as giant arcs with plenty of smaller arcs built into them with plenty of bad things happening to good people to keep you interested. A lot of series’ kick off with a wild first season where it seems like they throw all their best ideas into the pot immediately without much thought for further seasons. Sure, you can never know how long you’ll be on the air, but how bad did Heroes get after the first season? How about Desperate Housewives (yeah, I watched the first season and still think it’s pretty good, though I haven’t seen it since it first aired)? You get the feeling with those shows that they had this desire to top themselves that wound up creating some ridiculous situations or arcs that had no chance of comparing favorably to the more thought-out ones in the earlier/first seasons. With Prison Break it’s pretty simple: Season One has them escaping a prison, Season Two sees them trying to stay free, Season Three has them unfairly locked up in a crazy Mexican prison and the Fourth…well, I don’t quite remember. That’s a pretty basic set-up, but it makes sense. Expect another one of these posts by the end of this week because the third season was shortened by the writer’s strike and comes in at 12 or 13 episodes if memory serves.

Halloween Scene: Killer Movie (2008) & Zombie Wars (2006)

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of Big Bang Theory, so after reading over on Horror Movie A Day that Penny herself Kaley Cuoco was in a horror movie, I was immediately interested. Lost’s Nestor Carbonell, Dazed and Confused’s Jason London and Leighton Meester are all in the movie too. For the record, I only know Meester from that song she did with Cobra Starship and have no idea which character she is in the movie. Anyway, it’s not a great movie, mostly because the plot is kind of confusing. There’s a documentary crew in a small town. They say they’re there to film the local hockey team, but in reality they’re there because the old coach went to jail for murder and is now getting out of jail, which is soon followed by several murders of townsfolk and crew members that the rest of the town doesn’t seem to care much about. That’s not so confusing, what had me scratching my head is why Cuoco, playing a Lindsay Lohan-type party girl actress, shows up in town. At first I thought she was from that town, but she doesn’t seem to know anyone there. Then she mentions something about being there to learn about a part. I’m sure it was simply explained and I just missed it but whatever. From there, it’s just a bunch of murders and a reveal at the end that didn’t really surprise me much.

Being a regular Big Bang Theory watcher, I had a hard time believing Cuoco as a bitch. I don’t think she really nailed that aspect of the character, but I’ve also got a bias for her to be a goo character. Anyway, while the documentary crew is there they also talk to the camera as if they’re doing their own documentary about the events of the killings. One of the problems with that is that many of these characters die throughout the course of the movie so how do they report on it? Actually, that reminds me of a funny aspect of the film (and I’m assuming the reason it got a “Comedy” tag on IMDb), at the end as the credits are rolling, the various characters are talking to the camera and explaining plot holes like “Wow, isn’t it great that so and so has a bear trap key on his keychain?”

Overall it’s an okay movie only really worth a watch to see some familiar faces in unfamiliar performances unless you haven’t seen a ton of slasher movies before, then it might work better for you. Just don’t expect a lot of blood.

After being underwhelmed by other low budget zombie movies like The Vanguard and The Zombie Diaries, I wasn’t sure if I would like Zombie Wars. Luckily, it’s a fun and different-enough movie to keep me interested and well entertained. The idea is that the zombie uprising happened a while back and we get to see a faction of militaristic humans doing their best to stay alive and kill zombies. For the most part, these are normal zombies, but they’re smart enough to communicate with grunts and also have apparently developed enough organizational skills to keep a farm of humans to breed and feed on. We’re talking people who are basically grown from babies and kept like animals, like the humans in Planet Of The Apes.

The movie focuses on two brothers in the military one of which gets captured by the zombies and taken to the farm after the brothers rescue some humans from the zombies (some of the hottest, blondest zombie food I’ve ever seen). Anyway, as you might expect, it turns out that there’s more going on that meets the eye and zombies aren’t the only bad guys in the movie.

The special effects are pretty good, the zombie make up is okay and I really appreciate the effort the filmmakers put in to using mostly practical effects. I think there are a few CGI bullet holes in skulls, but nothing nearly as offensive as the effects in Suburban Sasquatch. The film is also not filled with dudes just trying to look cool like in the case of The Vanguard, though the guys do get some cool shots off. They just don’t wallow in them.

What really impressed me is how far these guys were able to go with what I can only assume was a relatively low budget. They’ve got make-up, tons of prop guns and they had to build the camp set. I won’t get into the exact ending, but it’s interesting even if a little obvious and nonsensical. Overall, it’s a good entry in the zombie movie field, though not great and I’m impressed with how much they were able to get for their bucks.