August 21, 2006

TV Review: The New Fox Monday - Prison Break and Vanished

Fox, seeking to get a headstart on the Fall season, unveiled two season premieres on Monday August 21. I guess Fox wanted to show what they had in store while they can, before the baseball postseason begins. It seems like every year we are into November before Fox gets to premiere all of their series, new and old alike. If this night is a sign of things to come, Fox made the right decision by getting the jump on the rest of the networks.

The night begins at 8:00 with the return of Prison Break with the episode "Manhunt", a breakout hit last year, entering its second season. The first season ended on somewhat of a whimper as Michael Scofield, his brother, and a gaggle of other convicts of varying crimes, put the season long plan to get over the wall and escape prison into effect. They successfully got over that wall, but not without enough problems to make you wonder if it was all worthwhile. It ended with the line "We run." Rather anticlimatic, but it was not enough to dissuade me from eagerly anticipating this premiere.

Season 2 kicks off right where the last one ended, with the escapees fleeing across an airstrip as their escape plane leaves without them. They run off into the woods with the prison guards and police in hot pursuit. They narrowly escape, only to discover a little girl in the woods hunting with her father. Abruzzi takes the girl hostage as a means to escape, much to the displeasure of the rest of the crew. Fortunately, they do get away.

As their escape continues, a new character is introduced back at the base, Alexander Mahone, played by William Finchtner (Invasion). He is an intriguing new character and seems to abloe to match wits with our hero, Michael Scofield. This could prove to a good match up for this season. Mahone is seen as an interloper by Bellick, who is intent on bringing the convicts down.

In yet a third layer, Veronica discovers the President's brother is still alive, so she intends to use him to clear Lincoln. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and the results here were definitely unexpected.

Back with Scofield, the rest of the group find out about Michael's and Lincoln's plan to retrieve Westmoreland's hidden money in Utah. This leads to a crossroads that could tear this motley crew apart. This, all while trying to stay one step ahead of Mahone and Bellick.

A good start to the season. I am curious as to how long they will be able to keep a show called Prison Break away from a prison from which to break from. I look forward to see where they will take us. Oh, one more thing, I would be remiss if I did not mention one of he creepiest network characters of recent memory, T-Bag is back, and aiming to have his hand reattached. I am sure he has some not so nice plans for our merry band.

Following Prison Break is its new companion piece, Vanished. When I first saw that this was coming on, I thought it was Kidnapped, but then I realized that was the wrong network. I watched the premiere, and I am sad to report that I was not blown away by it. I was, however, intrigued by the over the top complexity.

The episode opens with Senator Jeffrey Collins (John Allen Nelson) and his beautiful young wife, Sara (Joanne Kelly), going to a benefit gala in her honor, only for her to disappear. Called into work the case are Agents Graham Kelton (Gale Herold) and Lin Mei (Ming Na). In short order, Kelton has alienated his co-workers, the victims, and anyone else in his path, while Lin Mei tries to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Of course, our hero is damaged goods. He is just returning to action, six months prior he worked a case which saw a little boy get killed on his watch. An action he took the blame for. I am sure his ability will be called into question many times over the course of this series.

Kelton puts his nose down and starts his investigation which immediately leads to a SWAT team breaking in on the Senator's daughter and her "friend" at an inopportune moment. This leads to elevated tensions among the family members.

The story itself is primarily setup. In no time at all we are introduced to conspiracies, decade old kidnappings, fake names, murdered suspects, and more. I think I will stick with this for a little while and see how the pieces are moved around the chessboard. Hopefully the show will not degenerate in overcomplexities, serving nothing but confusing the viewer. I also hope that the characters will gain some depth, this premiere doesn't really offer too much beyond the setup.

Overall, the premiere was decent. Lots of characters and lots of potential threads to follow. Keep your eye on this space for future thoughts on the series.

The new Fox Monday looks pretty good. Prison Break started off strong, and Vanished has some promise. Let's see if the early start pays off.


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