Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"I served my country, and my country served me up": Monday gleanings

Prison Break is a different show in season two. I'm not sure it's a better show. I'm not sure it's a worse show. But almost all of its faults have carried over intact from the first season. The characters are still one-dimensional, the dialogue is still on the nose, and the plotting is still oft-ridiculous.

But the show remains a fun guilty pleasure, so I continue to watch. Monday's episode advanced a handful of storylines and avoided a few others. As always, the Michael and Lincoln stuff was the most interesting (if only to see the huge variety of new doodads they're adding on to Michael's tattoo), what with Michael convincingly throwing William Fichtner (something the show needed, even if no one seemed to realize it in the first season -- a convincing nemesis for Michael) off his trail through car explosions and whatnot. And the setup to that explosion was fun and tense too.

The Sucre stuff was fine tonight too. I liked the constant cutaways to the Virgin Mary bobblehead, which kept warning him against running from the cops, only to see him slip on to a train, then take off through a cornfield. It was a nifty setpiece, and it nicely established Sucre as being very good at improvising his way out of these sorts of situations.

I wish I could say the same for C-Note, who apparently set up an easy capture of himself. I don't want to see the criminals be stupid and telegraph their captures weeks in advance. I'm already turning this storyline off until there's some sort of twist.

Vanished, which I stuck with for three episodes because I do that for all serials, doesn't look likely to get an order for three more from me. The acting, if possible, got even worse tonight, and the plotting continues to be haphazard and all over the place.

I'll try and get to Life on Mars later this week (been DVD marathoning The Wire recently, so regular TV viewing has fallen behind).

Finally, Standoff debuts tonight, and it's the sort of show that would really benefit from tremendously sharp writing. Unfortunately, it doesn't have that, though the two leads make it seem sharper than it is. It suffers from a fundamental flaw in trying to set up too much about the relationship of the hostage negotiators in the pilot, when it might have been more fun to learn about how they got together and how their love blossomed and then blew up over the course of a season. It would be a lot like every other will-they/won't-they relationship on TV, yes, but this just feels a bit disjointed and messy.

Still, there's a lot of promise in Standoff. The cast is in place, and with the right writing staff, it could work really well. I'm not sure audiences will give it time to find itself though.


David Sims said...

I'm clinging onto Prison Break because of Fichtner. My favorite thing about yesterday's ep was Michael's intense look of fear when he realized DA FICHT was close. The show has a cool story arc in their opposing mind games.
Unfortunately it has little else. It's a bad sign when elephant-head starts to become one of my favorite characters. I would bump my grade from B to B+ if Sucre had said "VEGAS BABY!" before he hopped on the motorcycle.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

I think I would like this show WAY more if they would just abandon logic altogether.

"You've been shot in the head, Michael. Let me get the paprika."