No one ever accuses Fox of not taking risks. It's certainly the most risk-taking network of the big four. Some of those risks fail (Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? or Skin), and others pay off for the network (American Idol). If you can believe what critics are saying, it sounds like Fox's latest risk Prison Break will fall into the latter category. Risky because of its seemingly short ended premise, Prison Break follows the story of Michael Scofield and his desperate attempt at getting his brother, Lincoln Burrows, out of prison. Lincoln is sitting on death row and scheduled to be executed in a few months for an assassination that Michael is convinced he did not commit. In order to save his brother, Michael robs a bank and lands himself in the same prison as his brother (and it just so happens Michael had access to the prison's blueprints). The risk lies in whether viewers will tune in each week to watch the escape plans progress. And, if the brothers do escape, what happens then? With Lincoln facing execution in just a few months, it seems that the show either executes him or they escape. I suppose a possible Stay of Execution could slow things down a bit, but the premise leaves the writers with very few options.
Last year, the same questions hung over a little show called Lost, so much so, that critics raved about it, but concluded that it wouldn't last the season. Lost is set to start its second season, and it helped save a starving-for-a-hit ABC. One of the questions surrounding Lost is the same that surrounds Prison Break: Will audiences keep watching the same people trying to escape an island (or in this case a prison)? It worked for Lost, so why not Prison Break? Star and soon-to-be "it" boy Wentworth Miller stars as Michael Scofield. He tells TVGuide.com that the show (like Lost) isn't entirely focused on the escape. "[Michael] is at the mercy of the other inmates in this deadly environment, and I think a lot of the tension of the show deals with him being in jeopardy and having to use his wits to elude the predators and antagonists." He also tells TVGuide.com that the show touches on something else, "this is not just an action thriller, it's really a story about family: How far would one go to save a loved one? In Michael's case, it's all the way to the wall." Series Creator Peter Scheuring promises that the show isn't as violent as that other prison show from a few years back, HBO's OZ. He tells zap2it.com that "everyone asks about that, because OZ is kind of the last serial TV prison show." He adds, "this story is about hope. It's about the caper. It's about the mystery. It's all that stuff. So, this is not about the depravities of mankind."
The show's seemingly human element could make for some interesting characters that keep us tuning in each week (much in the same way as Lost), and then add in the whole thriller/suspense element of the two brothers and their escape plus the appeal of star Wentworth Miller, and it should make this show a must see addition to our TV viewing schedule. You can check it out for yourself tonight on Fox for the special two hour premiere.
*50s TV icon This Is Your Life is headed back to network television per zap2it.com. ABC decided to resurrect the unscripted drama and give it a 21st century makeover. The 50s version found host Ralph Edwards surprising people with retrospectives on their lives including special guests. The network isn't releasing any details yet, but original host Edwards' son will serve as an executive producer.
*John Leguizamo is joining ER for a twelve episode run. Sources tell TVGuide.com that he'll play a new doctor at County General. Producers had been looking for a well known actor to join the cast since Noah Wylie left and John Stamos had to back out after ABC renewed his show Jake In Progress. Leguizamo's episodes start airing in late October.
*Fox is extending the premiere of The Bernie Mac Show to one hour. The opener will feature guest star Anthony Anderson (The Shield), and the night's second episode will feature wrestler Steve Austin. The move pushes Malcolm In the Middle's premiere back to September 30th. The one-hour Bernie Mac block airs September 23rd.
*And finally, it's TV on DVD Monday. Look for House season 1, Curb Your Enthusiasm season 4, and Nip/Tuck season 2 all on shelves tomorrow. For a complete list of tomorrow's releases, visit tvshowsondvd.com.
That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for my impression of Prison Break. Plus, we go under the Surface with NBC. And as always, all the latest television news!