New 'Prison Break' blueprint goes too heavy on crazy

"Prison Break" had a great cast, thrill-ride pace and logic-be-damned quality when it premiered in 2005, which was fun, at least for a while.

Fox's revival, alas, begins with a flawed blueprint, while suffering from a been-there, broke-out-of-that quality.

Where the series gradually became crazier with each passing season, the new version basically kicks off in wacky, crazy, off-the-rails mode, with much of the action set in a Yemeni prison and dodging ISIS fighters part of the obstacle course. The nostalgia of seeing everyone back together thus quickly dissipates, and it becomes increasingly difficult to check one's brain at the cell door.

Picking up seven years later, this limited series quickly goes through the paces of reassembling the gang, including, yes, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), whose death was greatly exaggerated. His hotheaded brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) hunts him down, finding Michael under a different name in a Yemen, where Michael again proves himself to be the smartest, most scheming guy in the room, especially if it's a prison cell.

Still, Michael's long reach hasn't spared his ex Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) or the son who grew up without him, with the prospect that Michael has resurfaced bringing out shadowy figures and hints of a full-blown conspiracy.

Although there's an initial kick as the writers reintroduce the various players -- including the ruthless T-Bag (Robert Knepper) Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) and T-Bone (Rockmund Dunbar) -- there's a willy-nilly quality to it all, like a high-school reunion where, after the greetings, there's not very much to say.

Granted, nobody really watched "Prison Break" for its sobriety. Even so, there's something unsavory about using a war-torn Middle Eastern country as what amounts to a prop backdrop, with the gun-toting bad guys essentially serving as just another impediment for the brilliant Michael to figure out how to circumvent.

The original "Prison Break" benefited from a strong sense of purpose, with Michael motivated by his determination to save his brother. By contrast, the only ostensible reason to bring it back at this point is because everyone agreed to do so.

Fox has been adept at reviving properties with lingering fan interest, but the results have been almost uniformly disappointing-- most recently with "The X-Files'" tepid comeback. Never let concerns about scripts get in the way of a juicy marketing pitch.

On the plus side, this nine-part "event series" is a relatively modest commitment, and the frantic pace provides a few visceral thrills. It's just that for viewers who find those few hours wearing thin, those feeling antsy will find it much easier than Michael and company to engineer their escape.

"Prison Break" premieres April 4 at 9 p.m. on Fox.