Stories can be read on screen too

Stories can be read on screen tooAnother thing I have thought about doing this year is breaking down things I watch, because the writing can sometimes be very good (like in Prison Break) or very badly at the start (like Shadow Hunters) but it’s necessary to have these sorts of extremes in our lives so that we can see the differences and I personally love binging on shows and by now making them apart of my writing, I actually have found a way to make it work into my life, how nifty is that? But stories aren’t the only things that can be read, they can be watched.

So without further ado, let’s talk about Prison Break.

Prison Break was another of the shows that I binged one, it was on Netflix, I thought why not. I remember it coming out and watching maybe one to two episodes and not getting into it, but to be fair it came out when I was like 18 and I was still very much in my Buffy phase of life.

The show, which is four seasons long, takes place in the span of a year, which if you think about it, is a very busy year for the characters and people on a whole. It was also one of the shows that was hit hard with the writer’s strike that had all TV shows doing 13 episode seasons that year around. It was a sad time for consumers, but good on the writer’s for taking a stand, they are very obviously good at what they do, so I’m all for empowerment for writers.

Even with the four seasons, I felt that at times it was all over the place at times. There was sometimes too much happening and with the initial break out and prisoners going off into various places, it was a little discombobulated, but it came together nicely and I have to say that kudos to the writers for that, it’s hard to wrap things up nicely. Although I did feel like writers get a bit ahead of themselves and think that more is better. Let’s get this straight: More is not better. Sometimes it’s better to strip it back and have the bare bones and have that really work versus having too much in there. It makes it harder for the viewer to pay attention and they will drop off.

Although something like that wouldn’t work for a long running series, where things have a tendency to get blurred before 20 or so books deep in a series make it hard to remember much if you don’t read your own series (and 90% of writers will not re-read over their books because we can spot mistakes that are still in there.)

The whole premise of the story is that a brother of a man who’s on Death’s Row hatches a plan to break him out of prison, because he’s innocent. The bond between the brothers was something that was so pure that I couldn’t see anyone but Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell playing the duo. They seem to pull off one another’s energy so well and make each character so believable. Getting into the first few episodes you think that Michael (Miller’s character) is your regular know it all, he likes plans, is organised and never takes a step without a calculated assessment.

At first I found that I didn’t connect with him but as time went on and as their first move to break out fails and you see the absolute sadness on Michael’s face it’s easy to see how you relate to him.

And any good writer knows that our main character has to be relatable. You need your audience to connect with them, it’s why some antagonists are given a back story that is sad and heart wrenching, because it makes you, as a person, connect to them on a deeper level and you actually start liking them against your better judgement. It was such a sneaky tactic that the writers did and I could see the layering once you step back and really understand what they’ve done.

Another really great move, by the writers was giving you enough clues to keep you watching and guessing but at the same time giving you enough to be able to see what was coming up before it came up. Or maybe that’s because I can guess enough and put clues together (I blame my mad addiction for Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys as an adolescent).

The only issue I really had was the chemistry between Michael and his love interest Sara. It wasn’t there for me. I didn’t believe it and no matter how many chances I gave it, I just couldn’t get it. In the first place there was this romanticised connection, where it was forbidden and exciting, but when that fell away there wasn’t much else there for them. I think, part of it, is because this show was set before the raunchy and intense relationships portrayed in TV these days. With shows like True Blood and Banshee almost setting the norm with lots of skin to skin connections and weird relationships, but that’s not to say that for others the connection was there. I’m just saying it missed the mark with me.

The end of the series made me irrationally angry though, and I guess knowing that there is another season coming to light this year, I’m hoping that it’ll fix it. But the real question is: Will the series take place in the modern day of 2016 which will make it 8 years from where the ended on (which was four years forward) Or will they show what happened in those four years. Because surely they will have to find some sort of explanation for what happened in those years.

The best thing about watching and falling in love with a TV series and letting the characters and plotlines slip into your life is that a good story always stays with you, even when it’s long gone. TV shows that have moulded my life include: Buffy, Charmed, Angel and Veronica Mars to name a few. They were the ones that I grew up and with and learned so much about life. The joy of watching new ones and adding to the list is that I learn something different every time.

Maybe it’s time to binge on them again and really break them down. That could be fun…

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Mandi is a writer, reader, dreamer and is breaking procrastinating inner editors, one at a time.

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