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Prison Break: Season Three (2007-2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/12/2008

All Ratings out of
Show: 1/2
Audio: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/19/2008

The term "jump the shark" is thrown around a lot these days, but you may not be familiar with it. "Jump the shark" refers to a point in the life of a television show, typically one which has been good or at least reliable, where a major change or event takes place, and the quality of the show plummets afterwards. The term is a reference to the classic series Happy Days, specifically the episode where The Fonz jumps a shark while on water skis. So, once a show has peaked and then begins to dwindle, we say that it "jumped the shark". Viewers often debate about when major series "jumped the shark" (or if they even did), but with the Fox series Prison Break, that moment is easy to spot -- It was at the end of Season Two. Thus, things don't bode well for Prison Break: Season Three.

(SPOILER ALERT!: The following synopsis has details of Seasons One and Two of the show.)

Prison Break started off with an elaborate, yet brilliant premise. Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) has been found guilty of murder and is to be executed. His half-brother, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), knows that Lincoln is innocent and concocts a plan to get Lincoln out of prison. Michael, an architect, studies the blueprints of the prison, plans an escape, and then has all of the answers tattooed on his body in a secret code. After fighting bureaucracy and violent inmates, Michael and Lincoln escape with several other men in tow. Season Two saw these men go their separate ways, and then eventually find one another when Michael searches for a cache of money hidden by a fellow inmate. All the while, the group is being pursued by rogue FBI agent Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner). Michael and Lincoln make their way to Panama, but through a series of events, they are framed for murder...and Michael ends up back in prison.

I was stymied by this turn of events. This was a "You've got to be f&^$ing kidding me!" moment in television history and clearly, a jumping of the shark. They go back to prison? Seriously? And not just any prison, but a lawless prison in the middle of a foreign country. So, as Season Three opens, Michael learns the ropes in Sona, where the evil Lechero (Robert Wisdom) rules a place so bad that even the guards have abandoned it. As if Michael going back to prison wasn't hard enough to swallow, he's soon joined by Mahone, former inmate T-Bag (Robert Knepper) and former guard Bellick (Wade Williams). Despite the fact that they were all in-country pursuing Michael or the money, what are the odds that they'd all find themselves in the same prison. Meanwhile, Lincoln learns that a shadowy group is holding his son and Michael's girlfriend hostage. They state that if Michael can help a certain prisoner in Sona escape, then the hostages will go free. Michael must find this prisoner, circumvent Lechero's thugs, and find a way out of the most dangerous prison in the world.

Prison Break meets Groundhog Day? Who thought that this was a good idea? I can't state strongly enough what a kick to the groin it was when Michael was incarcerated at the end of Season Two. This told me one thing and one thing only: the powers that be behind the show had run out of ideas.

Season One of Prison Break was nearly a perfect thing (despite the fact that I only gave it 4-out-of-5). Series creator Paul Scheuring took what was essentially a feature-film premise and stretched it out for an entire season. The show was filled with genuine suspense, as we watched Michael hit pitfall after pitfall in his plan. In a perfect world, the show would have ended at the end of that season. However, money talks, and as the show was popular, Season Two arrived. While it wasn't as good as the first season, this group of episodes had its moments, and we got to see Michael use his smarts on the outside.

But, Season Three is a complete waste. Michael finds himself back in prison, surrounded by his old enemies, plus some new ones. The whole setting of Sona reminded me of Escape from New York, with Lechero in place of The Duke. As Michael is now confined, the show gets smaller as well, and it becomes very redundant. Whereas Season One kept things fresh with Michael going through the various levels of his plan. Here, we only see Michael wandering the dirty prison avoiding fights, and meeting Lincoln at the fence for meetings. The story arc advances at a snail's pace, and even the truncated 13-episode season seems very long. I hate to make this sound like a eulogy, but let's try to remember Prison Break as it was; entertaining.

Prison Break: Season Three is confined to Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The four-disc set contains all 13 episodes from the show's third season. The shows are letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc offers an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing just a slight amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The image shows a nice amount of depth and there is no stuttering during the show's rapidly edited style. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The amount of detail here betters digital broadcast quality, and the skintones never appear waxy. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is an excellent track, most notably the stereo effects. The stereo shows great speaker separation and the sounds are very detailed. We also get a nice amount of surround sound during the action scenes, or when large crowds are present in the prison. There's not a ton of bass action, but some explosions sound very good.

The Prison Break: Season Three Blu-ray Disc set contains only four extra features, all of which are found on Disc 4. "Season 3: Orientacion" (17 minutes) has each of the main cast members discussing the show and their characters. The newer actors mention their excitement about being on the show, while the veteran cast members talk about how their characters have evolved. "Break Out Episode" (13 minutes) examines the filming of the major plot points from the ending of Season 3. We see how locations in Florida were made to look like Panama. "Director's Takes" (40 minutes) features segments, which run about 3 minutes each, which have the director of each episode discuss a particular feature which made that episode special. "Between Takes" (10 minutes) contains seven sections which show what the actors do when they are on-set waiting for their next scene.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long