I checked out the National Museum of the American Indian, at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, at Bowling Green, downtown Manhattan, to see George Catlin’s American Indian paintings exhibit before it leaves on 9/5/05. Fascinating stuff – beautiful colors; he captured a time of American life (1820’s-1850’s) and tried to get past the view of American Indians as “savages” (although it’s debatable whether the Catlin’s portrayal of the sterotype of noble warrior was any better).

I watched the series premiere of “Prisonbreak,” the new show on FOX, wherein Michael Scofield (played by Wentworth Miller, a cutie, if I may say so) gets himself into prison to get his brother, Lincoln Burrows (played by Dominic Purcell), out. Lincoln has been accused of assasinating the brother of the U.S. Vice President, and is on death row (and running out of appeals). There’s the obligatory conspiracy theory (Lincoln was set up; by who and why is a gigantic question mark). Michael, a civil engineer whose firm designed the prison, has a complex plan, but in the meantime, we get introduced to the other folks in the prison and their problems (not nearly as interesting).

I don’t know what to make of the show’s chances. Episode 1 was gripping, Episode 2 (played in the second hour; FOX is trying to get an audience) was a little boring (I can only take so much about Michael’s cell mate’s girlfriend problems). You have to turn your brain off about the plotholes, the unlikelihood of the premise, and the “Shawshank Redemption” resemblance. I guess the interesting stuff is in the characters. But, Purcell’s very presence makes me worry (he previously played “John Doe” on FOX’s “John Doe,” which got cancelled before the show ever got to reveal who was “John” supposed to be (an alien? a mutant human from the future? huh?) – so already Purcell’s American tv track record doesn’t look too great). Plus, shows that premiere first in the fall season haven’t had great track records in getting renewed for a second season. But, let’s see how the next episode will turn out; quite a cliffhanger. If it’s a good enough show, then maybe the question of renewal can be explored later.

Alessandra Stanley of the NY Times has an interesting review on “Prisonbreak.” She observes the show’s resemblance to FOX’s “24,” and that Veronica, Lincoln’s ex-girlfriend and the lawyer who represents Michael, isn’t the brightest lawyer in the world:

Michael and Lincoln have at least one ally on the outside. Lincoln’s ex-girlfriend, Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney), is a lawyer who represented Michael in his bank robbery case. She too wants to believe that Lincoln was framed, and tries to investigate his case on her own. She practices real estate law, however, and is a bit slow-witted when it comes to anticipating the risks of looking into a government conspiracy. It could be that she is just distracted by her fiancé, an investment banker pressing her to set a date for the wedding.

Ok, so she isn’t a criminal defense attorney, which may explain why she isn’t quick on the up take on getting the brothers’ playing straight and legal. Coincidentally (or not – maybe FOX was the connection) – Robin Tunney and Dominic Purcell have played characters on FOX’s “House, M.D.” (Tunney played the kindergarten teacher patient suffering from really bad food poisoning, Episode 1; Purcell played the husband with the adulterous wife suffering from sleeping sickness). Tunney and Purcell lack a little chemistry, from what little scenes they have together; maybe more chemistry remains to be seen.

Another humid week in NYC. And, New Orleans still stands, but it looks like a mess. It’s no prettier in Mississippi. Hurricane Katrina moves on.

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