The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - 13A
o 'Prison' escapes unreal premise
Fox's new thrill ride, "Prison Break," is everything
a television show should be - smart, stylish and com-
pletely unrealistic. Protagonist Michael Scofield (Wen-
tworth Miller, "The Human Stain")
holds up a bank in order to help his
supposedly innocent brother Lincoln Prison Break
(Dominic Purcell, "Blade: Trinity") Mondays at 9 p.m.
escape from the prison where, coin- Fox
cidentally, both of them end up.
Such implausible ideas should
come with a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode
to disband all logic."Other action-filled dramas with
far-fetched premises are making a big impact on the rat-
ings, and Fox is hoping to cash in.
Michael's plan is to break his brother out and prove his
innocence to the world. Because he's a structural engi-
neer who helped build the jail and happened to get a hold
of the blueprints long enough to have them tattooed onto
his body, he might just have a chance. But for all his care-
ful planning, nothing can quite prepare Michael for the
actual prison experience. Upon his arrival, he realizes
that although he thought he had accounted for everything,
small details inevitably disrupt his plan. He must learn to
deal with the other inmates, and the different alliances
he strikes up tend to cause new problems. Remarkably,
his eerily calm demeanor never cracks, even as a vicious
fight erupts all around him during his welcome week.
Miller is brilliant as the single-minded, slightly socio-
pathic Michael. His portrayal immediately draws the
viewer into the head of this slightly deranged and com-
pletely riveting character. The important bond between
Michael and Lincoln has the potential to take a pivotal
role and provide interesting characterization and plot-
lines for viewers in the future.
The supporting cast turns out with excellent perfor-
mances; Robin Tunney ("Paparazzi") plays Veronica
:j Courtesy of Fox
This looks more like a J. Crew catalog than a prison.
Donovan, an attorney, who despite insurmountable evi-
dence, holds onto the hope her ex-boyfriend, Lincoln, did
not commit the murder.
There's also the peculiar assortment of people within
the prison's dreary walls. Administrator Warden Pope
(Stacy Keaph, "American History X") forms a close bond
with Michael, while Dr. Sarah Tancredi (Sarah Wayne
Callies, "Tarzan"), a sexy doctor and daughter of Illi-
nois's governor, seems destined to become Michael's love
interest. Former mob boss and general intimidator John
Abruzzi (Peter Stormare, "Constantine") and Charles
Westmoreland (Muse Watson, "America Outlaws") are
two interesting inmates whose side-stories provide fur-
ther insight into criminals' minds as they cope with life
away from power and freedom.
Despite its outrageously absurd premise, "Prison
Break" is guaranteed to entertain. Even with the serious-
ness of the topics involved (murder, death row and gov-
ernment conspiracies), it never takes itself too seriously
and neither should viewers.
"Seth Cohen likes us, so that makes us cool."
MAINSTREAM DEBUT DOESN'T DETER DEATH CAB
By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
Improv series shows promise
By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
By the very nature of improv, you
never know what you're going to get.
So, it is no given
that Bravo's new
* show, "ASSSS- ASSSSCAT:
CAT Improv," Improv
"the longest run- at 11 p.m.
ning and great- Bravo
est (live) improv
show in the his-
tory of the world" will be able to live
up to its billing. The members of the
highly successful Upright Citizens
Brigade bring their weekly perfor-
mance to television with the help of
special guests from other well-known
comedy shows. Saturday Night
Live" cast members Amy Poehler (a
founder of "ASSSSCAT"), Tina Fey,
Horatio Sanz and Rachael Dratch
join former "Late Night with Conan
O'Brien" sidekick Andy Richter and
others in perhaps the most star-stud-
ded improv show ever. Though the
result is humorous overall, the come-
dic success is sporadic.
The format of the "ASSSSCAT"
(an acronym for Automated Sprin-
kler System Shutdown Siamese
Connection Alternative Theater) is
moderately original as far as improv
goes. To begin with, someone from
the audience shouts out a word that
inspires a monologue. The cast then
uses the monologue as a basis for
their ensuing skits, all of which, as
Ms. Poehler repeatedly reminds us,
are entirely improvised on the spot.
Unfortunately the monologues
themselves are dry and feature very
little humor. Richter's especially are
horrendous - he doesn't even seem
to try and be funny.
However, the little-known Matt
Besser, one of the founding members
of this troupe, unexpectedly steals
the show. His best routine, where
he plays a bumbling agent of the
Gestapo, is certainly the best part of
the show. Besser also seems to have
great chemistry with fellow found-
ing members Poehler, Ian Roberts
and Matt Walsh, who often seem to
be the only ones not confused and
Of the guest performers, Dratch
and Sanz are excellent. They seem to
be improv naturals and get a chance
to branch out from the founder-
ing "Saturday Night Live." Sanz's
impersonation of a ticked-off Syl-
vester Stallone is priceless and on
par with Dratch's of an end-table-
crazed Adolf Hitler. Richter, how-
ever, bombs in his skits, too, rarely
having anything original for others
to play off of. Even when he says
something funny, Richter seems to
be entirely uninterested in acting out
Ben Gibbard is one of the few musicians who
gaiped more fame and notoriety for his side project
than regular gig. His wildly suc-
cessful Postal Service debut, Give
Up, swept the airwaves thanks to Death Cab.
the blockbuster smash "Garden for Cutie
State." The collaboration between Plans
Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello of Atlantic
the indie glitch-pop powerhouse
Dntel, was praised for its airy,
electronic atmospheres but lambasted for its tepid lyr-
ics. It's these vocal shortcomings that have plagued
the catalog of Gibbard's Death Cab For Cutie.
Gibbard has never concealed his lyrical topics: girls,
heartbreak, depression and solitude. In essence, Death
Cab is the quintessential emo group - a label that has
been exponentially losing respect in the music world. As
emo clumsily forces it's way into the mainstream (My
Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy) it becomes more of
a liability to be branded as such. Although Death Cab
finally made its way to a major label with Plans, Gibbard
runs the risk of losing his diehard fan base.
What sets Death Cab apart from other cookie-cut-
ter pop-punk groups is the use of imagery. Gibbard's
lyrics are occasionally outlandish, but always visual.
His style incorporates less rhyming couplets and witty
lines in exchange for bold, vivid (yet sometimes cli-
Plans is filled with piano ridden ballads and Gibbard's
effeminate yet affectionate melodies. "Your Heart Is an
Empty Room" is the same song Death Cab has been
releasing their entire career. But it still works. The obvi-
ous emo theme is strewn throughout the track: "And all
you see / Is where else you could be / When you're at
home," as the overly sentimental line flows through the
acoustic guitar lines and cymbal flares.
"Different Names for the Same Thing" trudges through
an extended piano-meets-reverberating-vocals intro
before an electronic beat drops and truly starts the track.
The ensuing three-minute crescendo of staccato keyboard
blips and compiling, powerful drums is Gibbard's attempt
to recapture the Postal Service vibes. The other excur-
sion is the folkier, Bright Eyes-esque "I Will Follow You
Into the Dark." While occasionally the track sounds a bit
forced, it is genuinely sincere and a necessary shift away
from the pop-infused tracks.
It's when Gibbard starts employing his lyrical abilities
that the album either falls short or soars to new heights. In
"Marching Bands of Manhattan" he sings "If I could open
my mouth / Wide enough for a marching band to march
out." The asinine lyric sounds ludicrous coming from any
legitimate musician. Combined with the Five For Fighting
vocal inflections, the track blends into the mediocrity of
the emo stereotype. On the contrary, "Brothers On a Hotel
Bed" uses some of the most heartfelt imagery on the album:
"Because now we say goodnight from our own separate
sides / Like brothers on a hotel bed."
Plans is not the album that's going to make Gibbard
a star. With a new Postal Service album on the horizon,
his most legitimate chance for fame is coming soon.
,Although Death Cab signed to a major label, they haven't
changed enough to lose their fan base. In fact, they've
gotten better. If Gibbard continues to write sentimental,
vibrant lyrics without going over the top, he just may gain
the respect he's been trying to hard to obtain.
' - " 5
"Look at us. We're zany!"
The show's late starting time brings
expectations of a less politically cor-
rect and edgier version of the semi-
hit improv show, "Whose Line Is It
Anyway?" Among other things, the
cast fearlessly explores religious and
date-rape humor, though most of this
is tasteless and unamusing. However,
there is some insightful satire inter-
twined with these crude remarks,
such as a play on college frater-
nities and religious fundamental-
ists who claim only they know God.
Sanz's style is quite amusing too,
though stretched too thin by the lim-
its of improv.
Overall, the show is funny, but
does not have the constant flow and
consistency needed to sustain any-
thing more than occasional laughter.
The cast of improvisers are largely
brilliant and there is no reason why
future episodes, with other random
topics, could not be better.
Ann Arbor Branch
53rd Annual Used Book Sale
September 9-11, 2005
Friday: 10am - 8pm
Early admission $10, Sam - 10am
Saturday: 10am - 8pm
Sunday: 10am - 3pm
$1 - $4 price range,
all books half price
all books $5 per bag
JUST D ON'T
Morris Lawrence Building Washtenaw Community College
Supporting the education of women for over 100 years!
65% of A2 theft is due
to unlocked doors.
Keep doors, cars, &
activity. Call 911.4
. "Don't 1st your
:H A IR
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OUTSIDE OF ORDINARY