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Prison Break (2005)
Review: 4 stars of 5
From my TV Web site: There's an awful lot of suspension of belief that has to happen to enjoy this show, but that's okay; Fox isn't selling it as a documentary on Alcatraz. The storytelling in this tale of a man who gets thrown into prison to break out his allegedly falsely convicted brother is crisply paced in such a way that it's easy to imagine it'll take all season to accomplish the task. We should probably assume the breakout will be successful, but other questions exist: What next? Was there really a framing, and if so, exactly who's behind it and why? The actors, many of whom are veterans of recent short-lived but good shows, are very good at fleshing out the cliffhanger scripts, which have clichés, but not ones that are painfully obvious. The new season is off to a rollicking, creative start.
Review: 2.5 stars of 5
From my TV Web site: Certainly the cardinal rule of season-long mystery arcs is to make us care about the results. "Veronica Mars", for instance, does it brilliantly, but in this dumb soap, I don't much care about which character is dead or who killed him/her. I'm only slightly more interested in how the relationships will develop. The plot device is clever (it's similar to the much better '80s book and mini-series "Celebrity"); each episode deals with a year in the lives of six high school chums between graduation in 1986 and now, when a murder investigation is unfolding. But when one episode covers a year, a lot of presumably important and interesting things get left out, plus just about everything that does happen is the stuff of already overplayed plots in other soaps, sitcoms and teen flicks. With so many choices on TV these days, there'd better be some twists, but they're not to be found here.
The War at Home (2005)
Review: 1 star of 5
From my TV Web site: Here we go with an early candidate for worst show of the new season. Parents who think they know it all but can't read their kids, bratty kids always trying to one-up Mom and Dad, and some of the worst comic timing in years. And it's not like Michael Rappaport is a bad actor; he and Anita Barone have both done decent stuff. Here, it's almost like they're saying their lines in front of a blue screen, with the other actors inserted later, followed by the insipid laugh track. But the worst part is the inane breaking of the fourth wall, in which the characters, when thinking things (unfunny, unoriginal things) they can't say to each other
say them to us, instead! Wow! What an original concept! What an awful show!