Prison Break-Season 1 (2005)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Pilot Episode, Cute Poison,Riots, Drill & The Devil,
Audio Commentary-Odd Man Out, Brothers Keeper
Deleted Scenes-Michael Thinks About Sara,Veronica Watches Surveillance Foot
Deleted Scenes-Sucre And Maricruz In Court
Alternate Ending-End Of The Tunnel
Featurette-Beyond The Ink
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Making a Scene-Prison Break
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (6)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||None Given|
Twentieth Century Fox
Sarah Wayne Callies
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
One of the best things about the explosion of the DVD format is how quickly television series in particular are released for our at-home viewing pleasure and convenience. For the patient, it can be an opportunity to catch up on those crucial plot twists missed when it first aired on the commercial networks and for the uninitiated, a chance to discover a new obsession. If Prison Break passed you by, then you’re in for a real treat now the first season is available to buy or rent.
Set in Fox River State Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois, the series arc is based on Michael Scofield, a young structural engineer who purposely sets up an armed robbery so he can enter prison and break out his brother who sits on death row. Scofield’s upper body is tattooed in a textual and graphic code which represents a blue-print of the prison. In each episode he attempts to gain the trust of key inmates to help him with his mission, but is often obstructed by the paranoia and deadly allegiances that are an inherent by-product of prison life.
The characters in Prison Break initially present as a stereotypical bunch of social miscreants – the serial killer, the child-murdering paedophile, the unfortunate innocent, the fraudster et al - but as the series progresses the audience gains insight into their personal lives and the circumstances leading up to their incarceration. These moments of back-story are often moving and allow the viewer to understand that these ‘monsters’ are indeed human. This sense of empathy is helped dramatically by the literate script and top-notch actors who work on body language and facial expressions rather than talky exposition to keep the narrative alive. Wentworth Miller as the tattooed Scofield is an incredibly intense, charismatic presence and along with his fellow actors, whose actions and words are persuasive, hit the mark even when events may seem implausible.
For a commercial yet hard-boiled men-in-prison series much of the gore and violence is implied rather than splattered across the screen. But the nastiness is made much more cringe-worthy by virtue of the fact your imagination is allowed to fill in the bloody aftermath - a quick cut-away following a throat being slashed by a home-made blade, or the agonised look on a victim’s face as a toe is snipped off with a rusty pair of bolt-cutters are very effective.
Like 24, Prison Break moves along at a break-neck pace and demands your full attention. Every fifteen minutes a mini-climax occurs, often an unexpected plot twist, which exponentially builds to a cliffhanger ending. This sense of urgency is maintained throughout each episode and makes for a highly engaging and compulsive viewing experience. So slip in disc one and allow yourself to be immersed in its slick world of confinement, mind games and thrills.
Season 1 of Prison Break is presented in a six-disc boxed-set. There are four episodes per disc, except for the sixth disc which houses the two climactic episodes, plus the bulk of the bonus features. A brief synopsis for each of the 22 episodes is as follows.
1. Pilot (41:52)
Believing his soon-to-be-executed brother is innocent of killing the Vice President’s brother, structural engineer Michael Scofield has the prison’s plans clandestinely tattooed on his body. He then commits an armed robbery to get incarcerated. In prison, Scofield uses his charm and intellect to win over a group of inmates to help him break his brother out, while on the outside his lawyer, Veronica Donovan - who is his brother’s ex-girlfriend – works as Scofield’s external ally.
2. Allen (42:18)
Scofield learns the hard way that inmate loyalties are fraught with paranoia and mistrust. Veronica receives visual “proof” that her ex-boyfriend Lincoln shot the Vice President.
3. Cell Test (42:10)
Veronica is left feeling uneasy after receiving a visit by a member of the Secret Service. Lincoln experiences a heart-wrenching visit from his son, while Scofield gets a new cellmate who is deeply disturbed.
4. Cute Poison (42:20)
Uncovering evidence that suggests Lincoln may be innocent, Veronica decides to officially take on the case.
5. English, Fitz or Percy (42:18)
Scofield receives some devastating news – he’s being transferred to another prison. Meanwhile, Veronica, with the help of an attorney friend, studies the security video footage of Lincoln allegedly killing the Vice President. She uncovers some startling inconsistencies.
6. Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part 1) (42:22)
7. Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part 2) (42:20)
In an attempt to execute the break-out, Scofield inadvertently starts a riot when he causes the prison’s air-conditioning system to malfunction. On the outside, Veronica becomes suspicious of the motives of her attorney friend.
8. The Old Head (42:15)
Scofield’s plans are thwarted when a shed that was an integral part of his escape route is turned into a recreation room for the guards.
9. Tweener (42:12)
Scofield must find a way to protect a young inmate from T-Bag’s sexual dominance while ensuring the escape plans are not exposed.
10. Sleight of Hand (42:11)
Veronica makes a startling discovery. Inmate Falzone pressures Scofield to reveal the whereabouts of Fibonacci, an innocent man the mob wants killed.
11. And Then There Were 7 (42:18)
Michael’s wife pays him a visit and slips him something that is crucial for his breakout plan. Veronica becomes more entrenched in the conspiracy surrounding Lincoln’s case.
12. Odd Man Out (42:22)
When the inmates learn that they all can’t escape, a group decision is made to eliminate some of them from the plan.
13. End of the Tunnel (41:42)
With less than a day before Lincoln’s execution, Scofield attempts to expedite the break-out.
14. The Rat (42:10)
Veronica lobbies a judge to postpone the execution, while Sara (prison doctor) asks her father, who is the state Governor, to look into Lincoln’s case.
15. By the Skin & the Teeth (41:50)
Just moments before Lincoln’s execution, Veronica’s efforts to delay it pay off. Lincoln is shocked to notice his father sitting in the viewing room.
16. Brother’s Keeper (42:21)
This terrific episode is told in flashbacks. We learn of the circumstances that led to our favourite inmates T-Bag, Sucre and C-Note being sent to prison.
17. J-Cat (42:17)
Having to endure a stint in solitary confinement, Scofield relies on Sucre to ensure the tunnel beneath the guard’s room remains undetected.
18. Bluff (42:25)
After having part of the tattoo on his back destroyed, Scofield tries to enlist the help of psychotic inmate Haywire, whose penchant for drawing and photographic memory can recall and restore the missing piece of information on paper.
19. The Key (42:20)
Scofield requests the assistance of an ally to ensure a key is placed in the infirmary. On the way to see his son, Lincoln’s van is involved in an ‘accident’ which leaves two guards dead. Coming to, Lincoln is surprised to learn the identity of his kidnapper.
20. Tonight (42:16)
Scofield must make the tough decision to request Sara’s assistance in the break-out.
21. Go (42:41)
The escapees are set to execute their plan. Meanwhile, Veronica realises the extent of the conspiracy.
22. Flight (42:47)
Finally on the run, the inmates not only have to contend with the fear of being captured, but also loyalties are tested when one of the escapees reveals a startling secret.
Prison Break is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Generally the transfer is sharp and crisp, complemented by a film-like gloss that’s highly appealing. However, there are two film-to-video artefacts which sometimes spoil the gorgeous visual quality and cinematography.
Aliasing is of mild concern when the camera pans detailed environments. An obvious moment occurs quite frequently when aerial shots of the prison and yard are used to establish a scene. The edges of the buildings flicker, whilst the lawn shimmers away with reckless abandon.
Motion artefacting is the other common problem. Whenever the action becomes frantic, images become pixelated then reform a fraction of a second later. Just take any scene where there’s lots of hand-held camera movement and the artefact presents itself.
Although the lighting within the prison can be quite dim and murky, the transfer handles it well by providing penetrating shadow detail definition. Blacks are very deep and contrast levels are evenly balanced. Grain is virtually non-existent, but it does crop up on the rare occasion.
The organic colour palette, mainly consisting of soft greys, blues and greens, is solid and attractive. Red, blue sky and green grass is striking when contrasted with the drab prison colour schematic.
The subtitling for the hearing impaired is presented clearly in white text. It is reasonably word-perfect, but does drop the occasional superfluous piece of dialogue.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is an aural stunner and one of the best I’ve heard for a television series.
The drum-and-bass-heavy soundtrack and score brilliantly drives the pace of the tension-mounting narrative. Almost tribal in execution, the drums contain a thundering low-end bass which is well-served by the subwoofer.
The surrounds are used constantly to direct the soundtrack, score and the occasional ambient noise like harsh sounding whirring blades of a helicopter to create an immersive environment. Dialogue is front-centred and comes through loud and clear.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are ten commentary tracks available and each has an English subtitle option for the hearing impaired. This comes in handy during commentaries which have quite a few participants, such as the one for Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part 1).
If you’re like myself and prefer a tightly structured Making of segment than an audio commentary, then you’ll probably find it a chore sitting through this lot. My attention wandered on quite a few occasions when the participants frequently fell into the trap of simply describing what was on the screen or yelling out – “Watch this…it’s my favourite scene!” Out of the hundreds of commentaries that I’ve listened to there’s only a handful that I would ever play again. These few had a moderator (a rabid fan or film historian) to keep the pace and who extracted some truly interesting and relevant information from each participant. I really feel that was needed here for this batch.
Hmmm…and where is the star of the show, Wentworth Miller? He’s not a participant in any of the commentaries. Oh…here he is in the Making of segment on disc 6.
Pilot – Episode commentary by series creator Paul Scheuring and actor Dominic Purcell
Scheuring dominates this commentary track. He talks about locations, sets, pitching his ideas to Fox executives and casting. Purcell doesn’t say much other than trying to be funny every now and again.
Pilot – Episode commentary by Director Brett Ratner and Editor Mark Helfrich
This is a more interesting listen. The two talk about the actors and their characterisations and how the casting was integral to the success of the series.
Allen – Veronica watches surveillance footage deleted scene (0:52)
I’m not sure why they left this out as there’s no commentary to offer an explanation. It is essentially an extended scene where Veronica is shown “irrefutable proof” that her ex-boyfriend, Lincoln Burrows, shot the Vice President’s brother. The soundtrack reaches a crescendo as she goes over the footage in her mind, which makes the realisation much more powerful than it is in the final cut.
Cute Poison – Commentary by series creator Paul Scheuring and actors Dominic Purcell and Wade Williams
Although a few eye-brow raising anecdotes about the actors are tossed around by Scheuring and Purcell, there’s a bit too much “I love this scene” and an overabundance of simply describing what’s happening on the screen. Is Wade Williams still in the room?
Cute Poison – Commentary by Writer Matt Olmstead and actor Silas Weir Mitchell
After listening to the other two commentaries with Scheuring, I’m starting to believe he intimidates the other participants. Here Olmstead and Mitchell sound relaxed with one another and share quite a few funny tidbits about the filming of the episode.
Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part 1) commentary by series creator Paul Scheuring and actors Dominic Purcell, Amaury Nolasco, Wade Williams, Robert Knepper and Sarah Wayne Callies
Of interest here is learning that Scheuring had problems with censorship by Fox studio executives. In particular, he had Tom Berg (Tattoo Artist) change the image of Christ on Scofield’s arm to that of the Devil so as to not offend Christian groups. Scheuring dominates, while the others get barely enough time to introduce themselves.
Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part 1) commentary by Director Robert Mandel and Writer Nick Santora
Mandel and Santora have a good rapport and allow each other time to talk about their responsibilities directing and writing this controversial episode.
Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part 2) commentary by Paul Scheuring, Peter Stormare, Amaury Nolasco and Wade Williams
Again Scheuring has a lot to say, but fortunately he does allow the witty Peter Stormare to share some funny stories about himself. Nolasco and Williams introduce themselves, but don’t really get the opportunity to speak out.
Michael thinks about Sara deleted scene (1:42)
In this deleted scene Michael is shown pining away for Sara (prison doctor) in his cell. This scene was obviously kicked for inconsistency – Michael was using the doctor to help him escape rather than falling in love with her.
Odd Man Out – Commentary by Garry Brown, Robby Roth and Karyn Usher
Not much to get excited about here. Brown, Roth and Usher talk about the difficulties filming in the actual prison. Their comments are better served in a Making of segment rather than here.
End of the Tunnel – Alternate ending (1:45)
This is an “oops-we-can’t-finish-this-episode-like-that” alternate ending sequence which is inconsistent with the episode’s sub-plot.
Brother’s Keeper – Commentary by Series Creator Paul Scheuring and actors Amaury Nolasco, Wade Williams, Robert Knepper and Sarah Wayne Callies
This is the episode favoured by fans and cast alike. Told in flashback, it provides an emotionally charged back-story involving the bonding between Michael and his brother Lincoln. Scheuring and the cast gush over how wonderful it was to film it despite the less than favourable weather conditions.
Brother’s Keeper – Commentary by Director Greg Yaitanes and Writer Zack Estrin
Yaitanes and Estrin also enjoy this episode as it took the action out of the prison for a while and allowed them a welcomed change of environment.
Brother’s Keeper – Sucre and Maricruz in court deleted scene (0:44)
An unnecessary scene that explicates the obvious.
J-Cat – Michael goes crazy deleted scene (1:20)
An over-the-top extended scene that is completely out of character. The final outcome was much more powerfully understated.
Making of Prison Break (30:35)
Interspersed with a lot of behind-the-scenes footage, Brett Ratner (Executive Producer) and Paul Scheuring (Series Creator) walk us through the casting and the delights and challenges of getting the final story to the small screen. Wentworth Miller (Scofield), Dominic Purcell (Lincoln), Amaury Nolasco (Sucre), Peter Stormare (Abruzzi), Rockmond Dunbar (Benjamin 'C-Note' Miles Franklin), Wade Williams (Captain Bellick), Robert Knepper (Theodore 'T-Bag' Bagwell), talk about their respective roles and on-set experiences.
If these walls could speak: Profile of the Joliet Correctional Centre (9:19)
In this fascinating featurette, former employees of Joliet Correctional Centre Debbie French (Executive Assistant to the Warden) and Chuck Gobble (Chief Investigator – and yes that is his real name and not a typo) talk about the violent history of the prison. They discuss how the gothic architecture fed into the deep unease within the inmate population. Adding to their historical overview is the many photographs of the prison and prisoners themselves from the late 1800s-early-1900s.
Beyond the Ink (16:19)
Wentworth Miller, Paul Scheuring, Brett Ratner and Tom Berg (Tattoo Artist) explain the significance of Scofield’s body art. In reality Scofield’s detailed tattoo would have taken over four years to finish, costing tens of thousands of dollars, but Berg managed to create decals to be applied to Scofield’s skin – a process which takes about five hours.
Fox movie channel presents: Making a Scene – Prison Break (8:03)
Concentrating on a scene from Cell Test, this brief featurette moves along at a cracking pace and demonstrates the time, enormous effort and thought that goes into creating each episode.
TV Spots (4:24)
These series of six 30-second TV spots highlight the shrewd marketing campaign used to promote the series on Fox cable.
Last Break (1:02)
Aside from a few language subtitle options and a trailer for Vanished, a serial mystery that premiered on US Fox on 21 August 2006, our Region 4 release is identical in sound, vision and bonus materials to the Region 1 edition.
The Region 2 (UK) release is virtually the same as our Region 4, save for the addition of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitle streams.
Go for the cheapest option.
With its sharp dialogue, charismatic cast, intelligent plot devices and enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your lounge chair, Prison Break is a highly addictive fix for jaded television junkies.
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output|
|Display||Yamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||get a marshall stack, and crank it up.|
|Speakers||2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.|