After we had worked our way through the whole of Lost I thought we’d shaken off our fascination with series, but now we’ve just finished the first season of Prison Break and are gearing ourselves up for the second. The Americans are brilliant at these things: a simple basic idea, convoluted plotting, twists in tales, plenty of mini-climaxes (for each commercial break); an array of strong and distinctive characters played by a group of excellent but previously unknown actors; flashbacks and flashforwards; mini-summaries at the start of each episode to enable viewers to drift in even if they have missed episodes; atmospheric music; moral dilemmas and a mix of unexpected treachery and surprising reliability. Drawing up such a list makes it seem easy but it would be nothing without Paul Scheuring’s strong script and the accompanying slick production. Scheuring and his ilk are the equivalent of the stable of writers – Dickens, Hardy, Conan Doyle – whose serialised cliff hangers kept British audiences on the edges of their seats in the 19th century, and the techniques are clearly very similar.