‘Prison Break’ enters fourth season

David Hohwald

Most TV shows seem pretty content to tread water, and given that “Prison Break” is entering its fourth season it seemed this would be the year that the show would decide to make changes or stick with the old formula.

However, writer/producer Paul Scheuring has taken an ambitious step by attempting to combine the best of the old and the new with great efficacy.

As with each other season of “Prison Break,” Season 4 hits the ground running, even faster than before.

The first episode contains so many twists and turns that long-time devotees will be stunned by revelation after revelation.

The pacing really hits its sweet spot, and the constant adrenaline throughout the first episode pushes the series to new heights.

Frenetic, action-packed and with almost no lulls, the series manages to avoid some of the dallying that plagued last season.

From gunfights to shady deals, the action is non-stop.

At the same time, though, Scheuring manages to create arguably the most accessible season of “Prison Break” since the very beginning.

Without giving away too many details, the show takes a story path that is unlike anything the show has done before, with spectacular results.

This turn is not just fascinating for old fans though, as almost anybody can catch up to the show.

Those interested in converting their friends to the show have a great starting point here in Season 4.

Storyline changes are not the only thing this new season will bring. As with past seasons, the audience is in for a change of location – this time to scenic Los Angeles.

The city is relatively well represented, but not a ton is done to distinguish it, at least not early on.

As “Prison Break” progresses, the locales can play much more into the story, and it seems that the creators are aiming at something pretty spectacular in the City of Angels.

Along with new places, there are a few new faces, and on the whole they are pretty good.

The best addition is clearly Cress Williams, an assassin and clean-up artist whose ice-cold demeanor and perfectly inflected dialogue create a character most everyone will want to know more about.

Less engaging is Michael Rapaport, who brings the same approach to acting as in his past roles. He is solid but overshadowed by some much better performances.The writing on “Prison Break” has also been cleaned up since last season.

Long, malingering sequences have been trimmed, and the “less is more” philosophy seems to be in effect.

The viewer is required to discern more of the action on-screen, and this hands-off approach is a welcome change.

The stinging wit of Robert Knepper’s Theodore character has carried over, while retaining some of the show’s terrific dark humor.

Revamping a TV series is almost always a coin toss, but in this case, “Prison Break” seems to have come out a winner.

By altering the storyline while keeping the base elements of the show’s style and charm intact, Paul Scheuring and his team have managed to prevent the show from going stale without alienating old fans, and simultaneously giving outsiders a chance to see what all the fuss is about.

Fans of action, intrigue and compelling drama are advised to give “Prison Break” a look, even if they are new to the show.