There are plenty of theories as to why studios seem to be currently focused on mining back catalogues for new takes on old material, but whatever the real motivation, the result is a whole host of popular television being resuscitated for new audiences. Fox is among those leading that charge, with cameras already rolling on a new series of The X-Files, and vague discussions about recycling 24. One show that was always mentioned in the same breath as those two revivals is Prison Break, and a brand new limited series of that drama now has the official go-ahead.
Scepticism drapes itself around this project more so than its stable-mates, however, due to the nature of the show. When it began in 2006, it seemed to be a fairly limited premise, with highly intelligent structural engineer Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) purposefully getting himself incarcerated in the same prison as his brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), in order to break him out. Lincoln is on death row for a murder he did not commit, and Michael has the schematics for the prison tattooed on his body, to facilitate his elaborate plan.
The show defied the odds and ran for four seasons, however. During its run, it expanded its narrative to include an extensive political conspiracy, and a reluctant union of a range of memorable characters. Despite its outlandish plot, the show struck a chord with audiences – finding them ready and willing to suspend disbelief in order to watch the fates of these brothers and their cohorts play out. It is this fandom, and the fact that new audiences are finding the show on platforms such as Netflix, that Fox hopes will respond positively again, as the Prison Break gang returns to our screens. That fandom is both a boon and an obstacle for a new Prison Break series, though.
While viewers that have already enjoyed the first four seasons – either during their original broadcast, or later on streaming platforms – will undoubtedly return for more, it is these viewers that will be the most sceptical, having seen the very definitive ending of the 90 minute TV movie made to wrap the story up in 2009. Although Prison Break has proven itself to be the kind of show that will happily kill off major characters, only to have them return later, the biggest question hangs over the main character of Michael (Miller) who, not only had inoperable, terminal brain cancer, but also appeared to blow himself up – just to be sure.
Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell are both confirmed as returning, and the series is characterized by Fox as a ‘sequel,’ so clearly, Michael has managed to survive. How that survival is written may well be one of the biggest audience draws for this show, as Dana Walden from Fox has teased.
“[It is] a bit of a sequel – it picks up several years after the end of the series. [It will provide] a logical and believable explanation to why the characters are alive and still moving around the world. The brothers and some of the iconic characters will be back, and it will address some questions that were set up at the end of the series for a new audience.”
Creator and executive producer of Prison Break, Paul Scheuring, is now writing the first episode, as well a series overview. When those are complete, Fox executives apparently anticipate handing the production a straight-to-series order, consisting of 10 episodes. At that point, we can expect further confirmations as to which other cast members are returning.