Skip to main content

Prison Broken?

Prison Break - one of American TV's best-loved and most entertaining guilty-pleasures of the 00s - set itself an intriguing structural challenge: the first season would be mostly set in a maximum security prison, and be all about attempted release from said constraint; the second season is about escaped convicts unleashed and on the run. In brief: control vs. chaos, or perhaps, formal versus free verse. If season one was poetry, season two of Prison Break is prose. The tone is different, and dissipated.

One thinks of the difference between the films The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal - where, similarly, the issue was of order and escapade. Visions of Dr. Lecter strolling about sun-stroked Italy wearing a hat and carrying a Herald Tribune like a retired Interior Decorator from Des Moines was a let-down, to be sure. So too, the squalid squabbles of the "Fox River 8" once set out in the vast landscape that is America. But, thankfully, thematic and poetic elements survive, not least the mythic underbelly of the whole show - such as Pandora's Box (another PB). Now, as T-Bag (Robert Knepper, pictured) says, "the hat is over the wall" - Situation Normal all fuzzed up. Michael couldn't have counted on - his pretty expertise never even considered - the ramifications of his original mission (shades of neo-con non-planning in Iraq).

He does begin to reflect (in a Catholic confessional) on his guilt, responsibility, and other childhood matters, as we begin to understand how his origins as a gifted wunderkind stem partly from terrible childhood experiences (mirroring the religious "dark night of the soul" episodes in the middle of the first season). There has always been a Crime & Punishment element to the series - a sympathy for villains with complex inner lives - and it is good to see this continue.

The second season has yet to jump the shark (I am at episode 12) - but if the writers continue to use the cheap eye-trick of FBI agents ringing on one door only to cut wide and later learn it was a house across town (trope stolen from TSOTL) I will put it in a basket. Also, not since John Webster has so much murder been allied to such narrative excess - surely, not all the characters need to be killed off at such metronomic intervals?

The violence levels on the show have risen - and one wonders whether Fox is encouraging the repeated use of torture as a commentary on the anti-Geneva Convention activities associated with extraordinary rendition, or a way of dulling our minds to its horrors. The "water-boarding" treatment of one of the main characters in Episodes 11 and 12 was particularly harrowing - cruel and inhuman. It is disappointing to note that The Emmy Award nominations for this year have entirely overlooked the show. Season 3 airs mid-September ...
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

OSCAR SMOSHCAR

The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…