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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


A Little Background     Openers     


    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment




Prison Break ~ Season 3 [Blu-ray]


(Created by Paul Scheuring, 2007)






Review by Leonard Norwitz




Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 568 min


Size: 50 GB

Case: 1 Expanded Amaray box set, complete on 4 discs

Release date: August 12, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 26 MBPS



English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio, French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Surround



Feature: English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedish & Norwegian



• Featurette: Season 3: Orientación (17:00)

• Featurette: Breakout (13:25)

• Featurette: Director's Takes - with Kevin Hooks, Bobby Roth and Milan Chevlov (40:05)

• Featurettes: Between Takes - with seven cast members (appr. 10:45)




The Series (Season 3) : 5
By now it should be well known that Fox has decided to release Prison Break Season 3 with "no plans to release Season 2 on Blu-ray at this time." Perhaps sales of the SD were not as brisk as hoped. Perhaps the Bonus Features never came to together as planned. Perhaps. Perhaps. At this writing, all that is known for sure is that we have Season One and will have Season 3 by the time you read this . . . which leads me to a quandary of sorts: How much, if anything, to divulge of the set-up for Season 3?

I'm sure that most fans of the series follow it on broadcast, so there's no problem there. Few people (I happen to be one of them) don't watch broadcast TV and simply wait for the blu-ray or DVD. But there's something disconcerting about a phantom year's worth of plot development. Prison Break isn't House after all. I figure that those who already watch the series don't need the reprise, and those who haven't yet come aboard are better off knowing as little as possible.

Perhaps I can compromise by simply entertaining the question of how might the developer of a series titled "Prison Break" continue once the prisoners are over the walls – as they were at the end of the first season. It would be easy just to have them all caught and brought back – but more possibilities open up if only some are caught and placed in different prisons. In the case of Season 3, that prison for Michael Scofield happens to be in Panama, and it's not a place for sissies. Beyond that I shall content myself with a critique of image, sound, and extra features as compared to season one.


Image: 8/9
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVDs, including SD 480i.

Season Three offers little comfort for poor Michael Scofield. In place of Season One's cool blue's, Michael, his fellow inmates and I endure blazing hot colors and the inevitable overexposure – in more ways than one. Given the parameters of the show, it's about as good looking as Season One in the scenes where comparisons could be made. However, there are a few scenes representing near total darkness that are seriously noisy instead of merely near black. For the most part, however, contrast holds up very well, with deep noise-free blacks. Sharpness is excellent where it needs to be, even in fleeting moments in the prison. Outside the prison, things get a little dicey with what I found was more overexposure and less sharpness than was needed to make the point – but this, no doubt, is intentional, and not a fault with the transfer.













Audio & Music: 9/7
Even more dynamic, more crunching than Season One is Fox's DTS HD 5.1 audio mix. It really places the action front and center, with plenty of surrounding clamoring inmates where there is no escaping the menace of the other Alpha males who take their stand in Panama's Sona prison. It's an ugly place where the inmates are in charge, but somebody's got to record it.


Operations: 7
Fox gets right to the business at hand without promos or previews. Each episode begins with a look back at the highlights of the previous episode – kind of redundant if you watch the series in a matter of days, rather than weeks, as most did last year on broadcast. But I don't regret the inclusion. I liked that the Director's Takes and Between Takes featurettes had sensible chapter stops for each of its segments – and not also pointlessly along the way. As with the first season, the box employs a cheaply hinged page for discs two and three that can fall off its moorings easily. No damage, just annoying.


Extras: 6
The Extra Features for Season 3 are not nearly as extensive nor as interesting as those for the opening season. In a way, this is to be expected, especially since the first Blu-ray set did such a good job in exploring the concept and development of the series, as far as it went. The featurette: Season 3: Orientación is guided by the actors' experiences working in the new environment. Breakout looks at one of the episodes from the point of view of the director and crew. We've seen all this sort of thing before and, though the material was well organized, it wasn't particularly engaging or interesting. On the other hand, Director's Takes, which follows Kevin Hooks (who doubles as the season's executive producer), Bobby Roth and Milan Chevlov as they guide us through their creative thinking and production choices on three episodes, is worth the forty-minute viewing. Between Takes consists of 90-second intermezzos with each of seven cast members as they reflect on the act of reflection and kicking back on the set. These last two featurettes are in very good quality 480i.



Bottom line: 5
Prison Break - Season Three comes, for me at least, the liability of having no Season Two in HD. So, with no Season Two in sight, Season Three becomes problematic as a purchase. To make matters worse, Season Three is not nearly as exciting as either of the first two because it relies more on bloody action for its own sake and less on compelling characters. (Some will find this sufficient.) And while there will be those who complain that Season Three shortchanges us in episodes (13 as compared to 22), more would not likely have made the season any better.

Leonard Norwitz
August 9th, 2008









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