You either love Prison Break, or you shake your head at the implausibility of all the narrow escapes from the law and convenient mystery assistance and write the show off. If you love it, then of course you'll want to get the third season on DVD. Just don't get your hopes up for a lot of extras.
The abbreviated season (only 13 episodes because of the writer's strike) focuses on the grimy Sona Prison in the hot Panama heat. The tables are turned: Lincoln's name has been cleared, but now his brother, Michael, has been tossed in the slammer with some of the most hardened criminals on the planet. Lincoln feels obligated to help his brother out, especially since Michael's plan to bust Linc out of jail was what got them into this whole mess in the first place. There are some truly bizarre plot twists along the way, but it's dirty and sweaty and filled with high-intensity action.
The extras are fine, but mostly the obligatory stuff that you'll find on most discs today. So if you've been spoiled by directors who do elaborate commentaries, or have gotten hooked on alternate endings and deleted scenes or goofy games, then you are likely to be disappointed.
First up is "Season 3: Orientation." It's basically a primer for the season with cast interviews about their characters and some footage of the show. It's a good way to get to know some of the newbies, like Chris Vance and Danay Garcia, who are just so happy to be on the show. And Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, who apparently really digs that she gets to play with guns. She finds it "exhilarating." I'm finding it a little disturbing, but it seems to work for her character development.
There's chatter from the other cast members as they try to justify playing bad guys by saying that they have heart, even though in some cases they really have committed appalling crimes (I'm looking in T-Bag's general direction). Like Amaury Nolasco, who says that Sucre isn't really a criminal, because he only committed armed robbery... it isn't like he killed someone. And it's all well and good, because he did it for love. Ah, love -- it's what makes the world go round and keeps the prisons filled. The best part is Robert Knepper joking that he sleeps with his fake hand, and then demonstrating things he can do with the useless appendage.
Next up is something called the "Break Out Episode," which pretty much is exactly what you would think it is. It's a behind-the-scenes look at how they filmed Season 3's jailbreak. There's lots of footage of people and cameras running through the jungle and plenty of talk about the cast being stuck in the water for hours on end while they awaited their "rescue." Even though it was filmed in sunny Florida, the temperatures were brisk that day and there were teeth a'chatterin'. William Fichtner admits that he did the footage that was close to shore, but during the long shots of the buoy being out in the open water, he stayed back on dry land. Can't say I blame him. And I give him credit for being so open about his lack of shame about using stunt guys (no need to be a hero!) because he wasn't crazy enough to get out in the deep where the sharks are. Again, I think he's pretty much a genius in this sense.
Then there's the "Director's Take Featurette," which goes through a scene from each episode and gives a pick on how this was made and why it was important. This seems to be the commentary substitute, so if you want to know what they were thinking, this is the place, though don't expect a ton of answers about your burning questions.
My favorite feature by far was the featurette called "Between Takes." This, like the Director's Take, looks like it was originally filmed as Internet promo spots for the show. If they ever aired the first time around, I missed them, and either way it's nice to have them all connected. "Between Takes" is pretty self-explanatory -- it's a nicely presented package about what each of the stars does when they aren't busy filming. They've got to kill time somehow. Amaury (my favorite for the moment) listens to his iPod constantly and dances Salsa in a corner alone and makes a lot of goofy faces to while away the minutes.
There's also a bonus feature about The Unit. This is not a bonus feature. It is a commercial. I hate, hate, hate when DVD menus make you think that you are getting something special and then it's just a commercial for something you have no desire to ever watch in your entire life. So many sets do this, but I'm still not thrilled by the development. That's valuable disc space that could have been used for a blooper reel.
All in all, if you're a die-hard Prison Break junkie, you'll want to pick this up. If you aren't, there's nothing on here that's going to really lure you over to Prison Break fandom if you didn't get the first two sets.