The commissioning of television projects is always a gamble. A pitch that sounded like a guaranteed win can all too easily become the first casualty of pilot season, if the magic formula of talent – both onscreen and off – is not achieved. In these uncertain economic times, when regular broadcast channels are competing more and more with original content produced by streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon, an aversion to such risk could well explain the current trend of revisiting past glories. As The X Files gears up for a limited season, and a 24 spin-off is rumoured, TVLine has exclusively revealed that the popular Fox show Prison Break is also officially in development for a limited series.
Prison Break began airing in January 2006 and quickly found a fan-base with its increasingly claustrophobic tale of conspiracy, political intrigue and family drama. Starring Wentworth Miller as Michael Scofield and Dominic Purcell as his brother, Lincoln Burrows, the show saw audiences become drawn into the tensions caused when highly intelligent engineer Michael manipulates the judicial system to get himself incarcerated in the same prison as his brother. Having had the blueprints of the building tattooed all over his body, he begins executing his plan to break Burrows out of jail, where he is on Death Row for a crime he did not commit.
The show – which ran for four seasons – also starred Sarah Wayne Callies, Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper, Wade Williams, William Fichtner, Paul Adelstein, Rockmond Dunbar, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Stacy Keach and John Heard, among others.
The idea of more Prison Break episodes was first heard in serious terms at the TCA press tour in January 2015, when series star Wentworth Miller – present to discuss his part in CW’s The Flash – told E! that he had suggested a Prison Break return to contacts at Fox. Describing their response as “interested,” Miller went on to explain his logic.
“To go back and do something like we did at the end of season four, where there were those two standalone episodes where Sarah was in trouble; it was like a hidden chapter – we didn’t know this, but we’re going to share this with you – wouldn’t it be cool to go back and layer one of those things in? Like another standalone chapter – this is what you didn’t see before. Or a ‘Where are they now, it’s five years later’ limited series kind of thing. I think that’d be really cool.”
Since Prison Break came to an end in 2009, Miller has been busy building a reputation for himself as a screenwriter – not least with 2013’s Stoker, which was featured on the 2010 Black List. Such success arguably lends more weight to his creative input when it comes to the furthering of the Prison Break story, and it was at that same TCA press tour that 20th Century Fox TV executives Dana Walden and Gary Newman speculated about the idea – with the latter stating, “We would bring Prison Break back in a heartbeat.”
Now that the question of whether or not Prison Break will return seems to have been answered, the question now becomes how Prison Break will return. Miller and Purcell have both expressed their desire to be involved – though they are both currently working on CW’s The Flash and the upcoming DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, as Captain Cold and Heatwave, respectively.
Assuming that scheduling issues can be addressed, there are a number of viable options in terms of plot, depending on whether this Prison Break limited series would take the form of flashback or current-day catch-up. Fans would note, however, that for a current-day catch-up storyline to feature Wentworth Miller, it would have to hinge on the idea that Michael Scofield faked his own death – a twist that would not only place him in an entirely new, somewhat controversial light, but could potentially breathe new life into the entire concept.