Prison Break, the early entrant for the new season, is a tale of two schemes. One is a conspiracy that put an apparently innocent man on death row for the murder of the vice president’s brother. The other is the convict’s brother’s scheme to get him out of prison by getting into prison and then breaking them both out.
The motivation for the viewer to watch is to see the details of both schemes exposed. The big secret of the conspiracy is “why?”; for the escape, the question is “how?”, and we see the many odd things that the brother does which help build a picture of a very ornate escape scheme. These things have to drive the interest, because in order to keep the surprises surprising, the central characer needs to remain an enigma. As such, despite time spent with various side stories looking at how other people are involved in these schemes, there is no real human concern and no one to root for.
It is fairly common these days to bring a successful movie director in for the pilot, and this is no exception. Alas, they brought in someone successful but not good. Brett Ratner has a track record of films that are less than the some of their parts. They have good core concepts and good casts, but in the Rush Hour films and elsewhere, he shows a lack of concern for plot and storytelling. That same inability to add the pieces together strikes here. Watching this, I ended up with a mild curiousity of how the storytellers would tell the story. This is quite different from actually being emotionally involved in a story, reacting to it as the truth. Everything about this pilot made at least this viewer feel fistanced from all that is going on.
Still, within its problems, smoothly made. Certaily, there is an audience for this, and I will probably continue to watch it until I no longer care what the escape plan is and why it seems so complicated.