TV Gal Paves Over Some Plot Holes

TelevisionEntertainmentCrime, Law and JusticeJails and PrisonsTelevision Industry24 (tv program)The O.C. (tv program)

The size of Cleveland.

Last year when I wrote my review of "Prison Break," I acknowledged the show had plot holes the size of Cleveland (give or take a few cities in Ohio). But I encouraged you to work with the show, not against it -– citing the fact that we tolerate preposterous behavior all the time on shows such as "24" and "Alias."

But now as the show begins its second season Monday at 8 p.m. on FOX (whoo-hoo, the new season is here. Aren't you excited?), I'm finding the plot holes harder to ignore.

The main problem is that now we've had a full season of Michael's shenanigans and carrying on. It makes his every move seem more and more ridiculous no matter how cute and intense he looks. When we last left the chain gang, they had escaped (finally) in typically outlandish fashion and were on the run.

William Fichtner (file under "interesting" the fact that in the opening credits he's billed as "Bill Fichtner") joins the cast this season as FBI Special Agent Alexander Mahone. Even though it's difficult to see Fichtner not playing an eerie alien sheriff, I like his character, particularly because he's hot on Michael's tattooed trail. Last season, Michael outsmarted just about everyone. This season he's dealing with someone as savvy as he is. And I really loved a scene that found Warden Henry Pope and Captain Brad Bellick answering questions like "Why did these inmates have so much time to dig a hole in the floor of the guard's break room while working in prison industries?" It's like they're speaking for the audience.

Robert Knepper remains a sheer, not to mention totally creepy, delight as T-Bag, and I'm thrilled to see that even though Michael dumped Tweener, the show didn't. The setup of following multiple story lines -- the on-the-run convicts, Michael and Lincoln's tomfoolery and Mahone's savvy pursuit -- totally works. And we may have lost John Billingsley as the president's not-so-dead-actually brother, but the show found a great replacement in Jeff Perry (remember we loved him on "My So-Called Life"). And "Prison Break" still manages some great (and might I add welcome) surprises.

What I really couldn't take in the first two episodes available for review is how plain stupidly Michael and Lincoln are behaving. I mean Lincoln -- who has escaped from death row, mind you -- doesn't even try to disguise his appearance. They're quickly losing credibility with me. Fret not, I'm still going to watch the show, but I am on high alert.

The first new show of the new season -- "Vanished" -- premieres Monday at 9 p.m. on FOX. John Allen Nelson (who we loved as doomed chief of staff Walt Cummings on "24") stars as Sen. Jeffrey Collins. In the series premiere, Collins' wife Sarah (surprise, surprise) vanishes. This brings Special Agent Graham Kelton (Gale Harold) and Agent Lin Mei (Ming-Na) in on the case and makes reporter Judy Nash (Rebecca Gayheart) think this is the biggest opportunity of her career.

Lots of mystery -– about Sen. Collins' first wife, about what the Collins' children are up to and if the senator ever really knew his wife at all -- ensues. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the show, but there's not enough right with it either. This is the kind of show that demands a viewer watch every week, and right now I feel no compelling desire to find out the answer to the show's central question: "Who is Sara Collins?" This may be because I already have enough shows like this that I keep up with ("24," "Lost," "Veronica Mars") or that I want to keep up with ("The Nine"), but I actually think there's a much more straightforward reason than viewer exhaustion -– the show is kind of average. For now I'm giving it three stars (see TV Gal ratings system below) but I'm keeping an open mind. Because if a show is good enough, I'll always make room for it in my TV viewing schedule.

After you watch "Prison Break" and "Vanished," let me know what you think.

TV Gal Rating System

As we head into the new season, let's review the TV Gal rating system.

Five stars: This show is so wonderful I don't leave home when it's on for fear my TiVo will fail (you know how sometimes we get in a fight) and I'll miss an episode (examples: "Lost," "The Office," "Veronica Mars").

Four stars: This show is in my TV rotation and will be recorded every week (examples: "Without a Trace," "Gilmore Girls," "How I Met Your Mother").

Three stars: I won't TiVo this show, but if I'm home, I'll make a point to watch it (examples: "Bones," "Two and a Half Men," "Cold Case").

Two stars: If I'm home and I need to watch something while I'm folding laundry, I'll watch this show (examples: "Las Vegas," "CSI: Miami").

One star: If I'm home, I won't turn on the TV for fear this show will be on (I'm too happy about the new season starting to put a show in this category. Simply insert your most despised TV show here).

Quote of the Week

"For a man who looks like a garden gnome, you've got a lot of demands." Karlene to the Chief on "Rescue Me."

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Mike and DJ were the first to recognize Lindsay Sloane as Nicole, the woman Vince had a one-afternoon stand with on "Entourage" (you know, because he was on her celebrity list). Sloane was Valerie on "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," Karly on the short-lived series "The Stones" and was Marcy in one of my favorite cancelled-too-soon shows, "Grosse Pointe."

Martin Landau was the movie producer who finally came up with a project for Vince on "Entourage." We saw Landau as Dr. Sol Gold on "The Evidence," and he was Jack's father on "Without a Trace." In addition to his many movies ("Ed Wood," "The Majestic"), Landau was also Rollin Hand on "Mission: Impossible."

Sarah recognized James Handy, Ben Devlin on "Alias," was the father with Alzheimer's on "The Closer." Ray Wise was Brenda's lawyer. Wise was the vice president this season on "24" and, of course, Leland Palmer on "Twin Peaks." And you can look for Wise in the season premiere of "Bones" on Aug. 30.

Raphael Sbarge was the identity-stealing mailman. Sbarge was Jake on "The Guardian" and this season we saw him on "Just Legal," "Threshold," "Numb3rs," and "Nip/Tuck." And finally (I told you "The Closer" is keeping WHISTB in business), Concetta Tomei, Lynda on "Providence" and Celia's mom on "Weeds," was the mother of the meth-addicted daughter.

Stop -- Emmy Time

The Emmys in August seems like celebrating the Fourth of July around Memorial Day -– something about the timing seems wrong. Like we're all going back to school a month early. But whether we like it or not, and certainly whether we like the nominations or not, Conan O'Brien is hosting "The 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards" Sunday at 8 p.m. on NBC. Look for a tribute to Aaron Spelling (I'm so hoping Tori is there), heartfelt speeches and questionable outfits. I'm rooting for "Scrubs" for best comedy series -– you know I love "Arrested Development" and "The Office," but I would love to see "Scrubs" finally get the recognition it so deserves. In the drama series category, "24" should win for having its best season yet. Also on "I'd like to see them win" list: Steve Carell, Kiefer Sutherland, Lisa Kudrow, Kyra Sedgwick, Will Arnett, Gregory Itzin, Jaime Pressly and Jean Smart. Who's on your Emmy list? Talk about it on the TV Gal message boards.

Best News of the Week, I Think

Chris Pratt, my beloved Bright on "Everwood," will guest star on "The O.C." this season as a friend of Summer's. Of course, my love affair with "The O.C." ended awhile ago, but this, my friends, is definitely a way to get me to start watching the show again. I'm actually looking forward to "The O.C." now, and that's no easy feat.

Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Time for Aug. 21-27

There are only two more episodes of "Rescue Me" (Tuesday, FX, 10 p.m.) left this season, and with the Chief suffering a heart attack and Tommy's brother getting shot, things are more stressful than ever. I haven't always loved the show this season, but I'll definitely be watching these next two episodes.

"Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty" premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. on Oxygen. Doherty helps people dump their boyfriends, their best friends, their employees, and their roommates. You name the person, and the former Charmed One will help you get rid of them.

FOX repeats the season finale of "House" Tuesday at 8 p.m. So if you missed House being shot by a former patient, now is your chance to catch up. I've seen the third season premiere of "House" (Sept. 5) and let's just say the show gets off to an interesting start.

This was my favorite episode of "Grey's Anatomy" (Thursday, ABC, 8 p.m.) last season. A train crash leaves two strangers connected via a pole that was propelled through both of them. In a nail-biting hour, the interns frantically try to save both patients. And at 9 p.m., McSteamy arrives and hits on Meredith. McDreamy's reaction makes it crystal clear to Addison who Derek truly loves.

Forget all those other pre-shows. E! has always been my one-stop network for award show coverage. Tune in Sunday beginning at 4 p.m. to catch Kristin Veitch and Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet.

Thank goodness cable is all about the repeats and on-demand viewing, because the following finales air opposite the Emmys this Sunday: "Entourage" (HBO, 10 p.m.), "Deadwood" (9 p.m.), "The 4400" (USA, 9 p.m.) and "The Dead Zone" (USA, 10 p.m.). That's right kids. The sound you hear is the summer TV season coming to an end.

That's all for today. I will be back next week to talk about the season premiere of "Bones," the series premieres of "Vanished" and "Celebrity Duets" and the MTV Video Music Awards. Have a question, seen a familiar face, have an inside scoop or want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com.

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