Prison Break: Season One (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) is about to be sent to a maximum security prison, where he will be confined behind bars with a sentence of five years. He hasn’t even committed a crime yet, but he already knows he will end up in jail. He walks into a bank, demands the vault be opened and even fires off a few rounds, though he never intended to harm anyone or even steal from the bank. Scofield wanted to go to prison, an unusual desire, but one that he had to pursue. His brother Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) is on Death Row and scheduled to be put to death in a short while, so Scofield had to act fast. He plans to enter the prison as an inmate, then forge an escape and get his brother to a safe location. Such a prison break seems impossible, but Scofield has done his homework, from which prisoners to align himself with to having the blueprints of the prison embedded in tattoos all over his body. As Scofield begins to put his plan into motion, he discovers that he will have to rely on some risky inmates in order to make the escape plan work. Some agree to help him, others refuse to lend a hand, and some learn about the plan and demand to be included. But with Lincoln’s execution date approaching, even if they can manage to escape, what happens once they’re over the wall?

As I was a big fan of the prison drama Oz, I was looking forward to Prison Break, as the interpersonal dynamics of prison have a lot of potential for television. Prison Break is not in the same class as Oz, but it is a well crafted and enjoyable series. I want to preface my review by saying that you have to really suspend disbelief in this one, to accept all the cogs that fall into place here. A lot of logic is on showcase, to make the elements seem realistic, but huge gaps exist at times, ones that shatter that realism. So if you have a hard time staying engrossed when one coincidence after another unfolds, Prison Break won’t be your style. The storyline is solid for popcorn drama, with an emphasis on tension and suspense over violence and brutality. This prison seems to have more good folks than bad and really, very little horrific behavior is seen. I liked the in prison elements much better than the rather lame government conspiracy side of the coin. You lose that sense of isolation and separation of prison when the show flashes outside the walls so often. The performances are great however, with Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Stacy Keach, Robert Knepper, and Sarah Wayne Callies as standouts. The premise involves numerous leaps of faith, but if you can suspend your disbelief often, you’ll have a great time with this first season of Prison Break, which is given a solid recommendation. This Blu-ray release has incredible visuals and impressive audio, plus all the extras, making it the version to own.

Video: How does it look?

The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This show looked excellent on standard DVD, so as expected, it looks excellent here. Prison Break looks more like a movie than a television series, with great cinematography and visual design, so it is an optimal choice for Fox’s first Blu-ray television show. The image here is clean and razor sharp, with impeccable detail that shines in even the darkest of scenes. This is the eye popping visual presence we want from high definition, a crystal clear picture with immense depth. I found colors to be solid also, but the show skews the hues at times, so don’t always expect vivid colors. No issues with contrast either, which is good, since the visuals have a lot of dark scenes and shadows. Simply put, Prison Break looks off the chain and fans will be beyond pleased with this treatment.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio on the standard release was good, but not that great. On Blu-ray however, that changes and the lossless DTS HD audio is dynamic and then some. The scenes that just sounded passable before now have spark and depth, with enhanced power and presence. The more action driven and tense scenes benefit the most, as the atmosphere is cranked up and the action offers more of a punch this time around. But background noise also has a boost here, so routine scenes now seem more alive and that adds a lot to the experience. No issues with dialogue however, the added power never steps in the path of the vocals. This release also includes French and Japanese language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Japanese.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The same assortment of extras have returned, still not that memorable, but I’d rather have these than none at all. If you want to hear from the cast & crew, you can enable audio commentary tracks on half a dozen episodes, with a roundtable of various folks involved in the production. A total of four featurettes can be found here, one on the tattoos shown in the series, another that examines the Joliet prison in which the show was filmed, then two general behind the scenes pieces. None are that in depth, but if you’re bored, they’re worth a look. I wish the piece on Joliet’s prison was longer and more in depth, as the facility is quite notorious and has a lot of stories inside its walls. Rounding out the supplements are some alternate and deleted scenes, so while not loaded, you will find some decent extras here.

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