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Prison Break season one DVD review

Observer Scene | Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Although “Prison Break” met with a great deal of skepticism at the beginning (only 13 episodes were initially ordered by FOX), it quickly developed into one of the best new shows during the 2005 television season.

Season one began with Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller, “Underworld”) plotting to break his brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell, “Equilibrium”), out of the Fox River penitentiary where he was on death row for the murder of the vice president’s brother Lincoln claimed that he was innocent and was framed. In hopes of freeing him, Scofield attempted to rob a bank in order to get placed in the same prison as his brother so that they could break out together. Scofield’s elaborate plan is revealed slowly episode-by-episode as he enlists the aid of other inmates and continuously works his way past the various obstacles that arise with each new twist.

“Prison Break” was developed in light of the latest trends to base shows, such as “Lost” or “24,” around intelligent, although rather ridiculous, plotlines, strong characters and exciting and shocking plot twists to keep the audience anticipating the next episode. “Prison Break” evoked this intense anticipation and build up through such tools as Schofield’s body tattoos with all of his plans for escape.

Season one of “Prison Break” is now available in a DVD set with all 22 episodes on six discs. Along with the episodes are 10 audio commentaries from the cast and the crew, also including Brett Ratner (director, “X-Men: The Last Stand”) who serves as an executive producer for the show and directed the pilot episode of the series. The commentaries are excellent, especially for fans of the show, as they highlight where they initially thought the plot was going to go, and point out many of the changes to the plot that had to be made while they were filming.

One such example is the character of C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), who was only supposed to appear in two episodes, but once the show became extended to a full season was made a much more central cast member. There are also a number of hints as to what could happen and what to look for during season two.

Also included in the DVD set are three featurettes. The first, “If These Walls Could Speak: Profile of the Joliet Correctional Center,” goes inside the correctional facility where the show is filmed. One interesting tidbit gleaned from this feature is that many of the scenes are filmed on location in the actual cell that housed John Wayne Gacy.

The second feature, “Beyond the Ink: Tattoo Featurette,” focuses on the extensive “map” tattooed on Michael Scofield’s back that plays a key role in the series. It not only goes into detail on the pieces of the map, but also what actor Wentworth Miller had to do in order to have the tattoo placed on him. Finally there is one of Fox’s “Inside Look” previews at the beginning of season two of the series.

All in all, Season 1 of “Prison Break” is an exceptional package of extras included with all of the action-packed episodes from the first season that will definitely make this set worthwhile for both new fans and ones that have been following the show since its premiere last year as Season Two begins.