BREAKOUT KINGS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
The producers of the FOX series “Prison Break” get involved with convicts again in the production of the cable series “Breakout Kings.” The premise features U.S. Marshals who enlist the help of convicts to track down and arrest other convicts who break out of prison. In exchange for their help, they get some time shaved off their own sentences for every criminal they bring back.
THE KILLING: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Like “Prison Break,” “Breakout Kings” mixes a certain degree of comic relief with its harder core subject manner. The levity increases as the series goes on, especially once the actors become comfortable with each other. Unlike “Prison Break,” this series hasn’t gone off the rails yet, but it’s still early in its run.
“Breakout Kings” follows a standard procedural formula, also delivering some season-long arcs, but for the most part the focus is on bringing criminals in. The cast of characters are relatively well-rounded, and none of the convicts get too much attention. The series hasn’t yet tried to give developmental plots to them, which is nice because that can often ruin the archetypal chemistry the cast has.
The downside, at least for my tastes, is the push to be overly badass in the show. The convicts aren’t the problem, which is a bit of a surprise. Instead, the U.S. Marshals featured in the show (in particular Laz Alonso as the lead Marshal and Domenick Lombardozzi as his disgraced partner) spend much of their time puffing out their chests and yelling at other characters. If it weren’t for the humor delivered by Jimmi Simpson’s character (and by his central placement on the DVD cover box, it’s clear he’s the focal star of the show), it’d be too much to take.
Still, the first season of “Breakout Kings” gives a relatively breezy and fun twist on the detective genre, and its presentation makes it ideal to show the slickness that can be achieved in basic cable programming.
Bonus features on this DVD set include audio commentaries on select episodes and a slate of deleted scenes from the season. Three featurettes are also included: “Good Cons, Bad Cons” looks at the inspiration and development of the show, “Bullpen Sessions” tours the bullpen set on the show and “T Bag: Dealt a Bad Hand” looks at the high-profile episode featuring the return of T-Bag from “Prison Break.”
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: zero (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
Based on the concept, I would have thought I’d enjoy “The Killing.” I like a good detective procedural, and the idea of a murder mystery taken over the course of a season with a day-per-episode structure could be intriguing. Sadly, it’s not the format of the show that made me hate it. It was the show itself.
“The Killing” tells the story of a detective on the verge of changing jobs who gets handed a last-minute murder case. The victim is a high schooler named Rosie Larson, whose death appears relatively straightforward at first. But as the case unravels, it shows connections to multiple people in town, from a teacher at the school to a City Councilman running for Mayor.
Sounds interesting, no?
Well, the problems come in the execution, not the concept. In the bonus features, the creator of the show stresses how she wanted to examine the emotion behind a murder rather than sensationalize the murder itself. However, this results in countless cliched moments of the parents weeping in front of an answering machine or grieving in private at home. The reality is we’ve seen this treatment before, so it’s really nothing original.
My biggest problem with this series is the characters. They’re all assholes. More over, they’re purposefully depressing, nihilistic beings who are truly terrible people whether they were involved with murdering Rosie or not. The lead detective has a teenage son, and she’s such a godawful mother that I feel no sympathy for her. Her new partner is a recovering meth addict whose entire approach to police work is to smoke dope with people and get them to talk about nefarious things.
There’s not a shred of humor or positive emotion in this series. It’s needlessly bleak, for the sake of being bleak. I struggled to get through even a single episode let along suffer through the entire season.
And to top things off, the story goes nowhere. Even the goofy, wacky “Twin Peaks” from the 90s decided to answer the question as to who killed Laura Palmer in a somewhat timely manner. Sadly, “The Killing” drags things out not for a sense of drama but rather because there’s no creativity once there’s a resolution. It’s painfully lazy writing, and there’s no excuse for it.
“The Killing” fits squarely into the slate of AMC original programming like “The Walking Dead” and “Hell on Wheels.” It’s misery porn with action words in the title that literally go nowhere.
The four-disc DVD set includes several bonus features, including deleted scenes and commentary on a couple key episodes. There’s also an extended season finale, “Orpheus Descending” as well as a gag reel and the behind-the-scenes featurette “An Autopsy of The Killing.”
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