Fans of Prison Break may be excited for the return of the popular FOX thriller… but according to the critics, Season Five should have stayed locked up!
Just like its first run, the Prison Break revival offers high-adrenaline, loosely-plotted action involving the convoluted escape of a frighteningly gloom prison.
Unlike its earlier seasons, however, the new episodes embrace its mindless action while trying to convey an important message — which, due to cartoonish portrayal of Middle Eastern characters, comes off vaguely Islamophobic.
Although critics were happy to see the return of Wentworth Miller as riddle-minded escapist Michael Scofield, most couldn’t get past the obvious glare of his unexplained resurrection after dying in the original run.
And while the easily digestible action was found to be entertaining, most critics felt the show’s commentary centering around the very real conflict in Yemen was highly misinforming — and couldn’t be airing at a worse time.
Dominic Pattern, Deadline: “Prison Break Season 5 only serves to prove that, even in this age of revivals and reboots, sometimes there really are no more good tales to tell and some things really should just be left alone now matter how great the temptation.”
Robert Bianco, USA Today: “Coherence and a respect for reality were never Prison’s strengths which makes you wonder whether this is really a show we want muddling around in Yemen, a country suffering from a civil war in which our military has become entangled … Prison makes no effort to get the facts or parties straight, or to avoid a single ugly Middle Eastern stereotype. And this at a time when Muslim-Americans have never felt more threatened and would-be refugees from Yemen risk seeing their escape route to America cut off.”
Chris Cabin, Collider: “Those who are here for adrenaline, and maybe just a little nostalgia for a series that ended less than a decade ago, will likely find exactly what they’re looking for in these eight episodes. Those who are looking for good television, however, will likely not be pleased by what’s going on here.”
Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly: “Prison Break isn’t worth much of anything, but it could have been. You can see the better show trying to escape its lock-up of bad ideas. And by ‘better,’ I don’t mean ‘important.’ I mean a version of the show that honored Prison Break‘s best form, sharply plotted, zestfully performed, over-the-top pulp escapism. I don’t need Prison Break to be Emmy-baiting prestige TV. But I do need it to be a hoot. Alas, the reboot hurts for hoots.”
Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times: “Another Fox reach into its past, the fall series 24: Legacy, also forced fans to confront a question, one that was more substantive: Was that show again demonizing Muslims, as it had in the past? Prison Break, with the Yemen angle, is in the same territory. Too many characters look like caricatures, a reinforcement of the notion that all Muslims are snarling bundles of hate.”
Maureen Ryan, Variety: “There are apparently reasons that Scofield (Miller) who was presumed dead at the end of Prison Break‘s first run is alive and wound up in a prison halfway around the world. But this new incarnation doesn’t make those mysteries as tantalizing as they need to be to overlook its reliance on unfortunate stereotypes, an often unpleasant atmosphere, and unexceptional plot turns.”
Josh Modell, A.V. Club: “This season feels just overstuffed enough to be entertaining. Make no mistake, it’s nothing more than entertaining, and sometimes it’s less, but there’s something to be said for its mindless fun. For now, anyway; let’s hope it doesn’t get a big head and go for too many more seasons.”
Todd VanDerWerff, Vox: “The last thing I needed Prison Break to do was offer up a message weightier than ‘Being in prison seems like it wouldn’t be fun.’ This was always a dumb show, full of clichs, but it seemed to be aware of that, and embraced its own idiocy. In its new miniseries incarnation, it wants to be a dumb show, full of clichs, that has something to say, and you’d be surprised how easily that tilts over into outright offensiveness.”
Prison Break returns Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST on FOX.
[Image via FOX.]