THE SERIES “Prison Break”

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Fox/5


WHAT IT’S ABOUT Fox is not calling this nine-episode series a sequel to the original — which aired 2005-09 — but a fifth season.

Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell (Robert Knepper) is about to finally walk out of Fox River State Pen when he’s handed an envelope. Inside is evidence that Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) is still alive. How is that possible? That’s what he’d like to know.

So he takes this evidence to Scofield’s brother, Lincoln (Dominic Purcell). He sets out to find his former sister-in-law, Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies), who’s now living upstate, and married to Jacob Ness (Mark Feuerstein), to see what she might know. Could Michael be alive?

The pursuit of an answer then takes Linc to C-Note Franklin (Rockmond Dunbar) who has gone through a major spiritual change. Together they head to Yemen (parts of this season were filmed in Morocco) for answers.

Just to refresh your memory: In the original series, Michael was an engineer who had tattooed the detailed schematics of a prison on his chest — the prison holding his brother who had been wrongly convicted of killing the brother of the U.S. vice president. Michael then stages a bank robbery, gets convicted and lands in the same prison where Linc is held. He makes some new friends (like C-Note and Sucre — played by Amaury Nolasco, who’s also returning) and enemies (including T-Bag). He also meets his future wife, Sara, the prison doctor. Together, they hatch a plan to get Linc out, and get to the bottom of the conspiracy that put him in jail in the first place.

Along with much of the original cast, the original show runners — Paul T. Scheuring, Neal Moritz, Marty Adelstein and Dawn Olmstead — are back.

MY SAY The new “Prison Break” appears to be the shaggiest of shaggy dog stories, fleas included. That’s high praise, by the way, because that’s what “Prison Break” always was (fleas included).

Suspect story tangents are just fine and this “fifth season” appears to be as well. As usual, fans will have to gerrymander some logic, or simply hope that some of the massive plot holes will eventually be filled in. Why is Sara happily living in Ithaca and married to someone who looks an awful lot like Dr. Hank Lawson from “Royal Pains”? (He’s not Hank, but good luck getting that out of your head.) Wasn’t she supposed to be a fugitive? And Fox insists that the story of how Michael became un-dead will make perfect sense — sure — but, explain the pictures we see of him in the casket at his funeral?

What matters is what devoted fans will see Tuesday, and if they are truly devoted, they’ll realize this series never actually ended. They never did see Michael die. (He was just out of sight when he put two high-power cables together to short-circuit the prison where Sara was holed up.) They did, however, see the DVD he put together before his “death,” telling his brother and Sara “I love you very much.”

Those devoted, disappointed fans always knew what was really going on, however. This was Michael Scofield we’re talking about, after all. He must have had a secret plan. He always did. In fact, they suspected that the plan was probably a movie sequel someday. Consider this nine-episode series that long-awaited promise kept.

Best of all, the bros are back. Linc’s still tough and impulsive. Michael still has that lonely middle-distance stare. Tuesday’s opener suggests there’s plenty of action ahead, some real-world parallels, and a shaggy dog that could lead us to an interesting place. Hopefully that place will finally be closure.

BOTTOM LINE Some whoppers in terms of story and logic, but this is the long-awaited fifth season of “Prison Break,” after all. You expected otherwise? A solid start.

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