Tube Talk: The men of 24 and Prison Break

Sure, I tuned in to every episode of Prison Break when it returned in the fall, but something was missing.

Casting William Fichtner as Michael’s nemesis, Mahone, was truly inspired. Michael and Mahone’s battle of wits made for some of the most intense Prison Break scenes so far this season, as did the escapees’ adventures—from T-Bag’s cringe-inducing scenes (Bellick confessing to T-Bag’s murder of ex-guard Geary was a great twist) to Sucre and C-Note risking their lives to be with their loved ones, to Mahone coldly killing Tweener (high price for a stolen baseball card, huh?). Don’t forget the vast conspiracy framing Linc for killing the president’s brother, who isn’t even dead (though we can’t say the same for poor Veronica), and Agent Kellerman wooing, abducting, torturing and trying to kill Sara, only to pop up in the final scene of the “fall season” offering to help Michael and Linc expose the conspiracy. It’s beyond addictive.

All that drama, yet my Monday night viewing didn’t feel complete. The hour-long adrenaline rush always ended with a letdown. After all, what could top Prison Break? The answer: 24.

One of Fox’s best decisions last year was to pair these shows. While they have different feels and extremely different characters, the fast pace of both shows and the main characters never knowing who to trust—even one another—makes them a perfect match. This month, they finally both return.

As usual, 24 is coming back in a big way, with a two-night, four-hour season opener starting at 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14, and continuing at the same time Monday night. 24 knows how to pull viewers in and never let go. Last year was arguably its best season ever—I still think Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart, who played President and Mrs. Logan, should have received the Emmys for which they were nominated. Last season was so good that, despite three of my favorite characters (Tony, Michelle, and Edgar) being killed off, I’m still looking forward to what happens next.

Fox’s dynamic duo of TV dramas will be reunited Monday, Jan. 22, as Prison Break kicks off its “spring season” at 7 p.m., immediately followed by 24. If 24’s new season lives up to the hype, be prepared for edge-of-your seat entertainment every Monday from now through May.

Some TV trivia: Michelle Forbes has had recurring roles in both 24 (Lynne Kresge) and Prison Break (Samantha Brinker), and both shows are tied to ABC’s The Nine (which may or may not return, depending on who you talk to). Kim Raver plays 24’s Audrey Raines and The Nine’s Kathryn Hale, while The Nine’s John Billingsly (Ethan Foote) and Camille Guaty (Franny Rios) have both shared recurring roles on Prison Break with other actors, as Terrence Steadman (aka the president’s “dead” brother) and Sucre’s love, Maricruz, respectively. These are just a few connections I know off the top of my head. If you know more, let me know.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy Magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications including American Bungalow, SatelliteORBIT, and TVGuide.

From the Jan. 10-16, 2007, issue

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