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Prison Break


Staff member
Did anyone see the premiere of Prison Break?

It's Fox, so I'm going to wait a few episodes to see how it does before downloading it and getting invested.

But it looks interesting and Wentworth Miller is HOT.
Interesting premise, although the whole "vast political conspiracy" thing has been done to death. A lot of plot threads, clues (and red herrings, I'm sure) are set up in the first episode. (There is s scene where the main character tears dozens of newspaper clippings from the wall of his apartment or office before the commits the robbery that will send him to prison, and they're all clues. It is a bit like the newspaper headlines under the credits in Dead Again or the recap with the items in the cop's office in The Usual Suspects. Interspersed with articles about the murder his brother is supposed to have committed are stories about a mobster sent away on the testimony of an associate who flipped on him, and legendary ransom-hijacker D. B. Cooper among other odd items. By the end of the first hour it is clear that they'll all play a role in the ongoing drama.)

I'm just curious how long they can sustain this story. Along with the upcoming Reunion, the premise has the feel of a disposable show - a 22 part mini series that runs one season and then goes to DVD. It may be that the changing economics of American television, and the changinge viewing habits of Americans, are finally making such things Maybe Fox thinks they can do three or four such mystery-based mini-series and sell them as a combined syndication package?

Anyway, I was sufficiently intrigued to set a TiVo season pass so I don't miss any of the future episodes and I'll keep watchng for now. I'll post what I can without spoilers when I have a better sense of how the show is working out.


I'’m just curious how long they can sustain this story. Along with the upcoming Reunion, the premise has the feel of a disposable show - a 22 part mini series that runs one season and then goes to DVD.

But when you think about, this is perfect for Fox. Out of all the broadcast networks, Fox seems the most willing to air a sci-fi, fantasy, or horror show. However, they are also the quickest to bury such a show too. The four main exceptions that come to mind are:

X-Files: 9 seasons
Millenium: 3 seasons
Sliders: 3 seasons (the 4th & 5th seasons were on Sci-Fi Channel)
Dark Angel: 2 seasons (probably could have lasted longer if S2 were as good as S1)

But, here are some shows that didn’t last so long regardless of how good or bad they were:

Brimstone: cancelled after half a season (season finale moved up in schedule to become a rushed series “finale”)
Lone Gunman: cancelled after 13 episodes
Firefly: cancelled after 12 episodes with 3 more produced but never being aired
John Doe: completed a season but not picked up for a 2nd despite S1 ending on a cliffhanger
Wonderfalls: cancelled after 11 episodes with 2 more produced but never being aired
Tru Calling: cancelled barely into season 2 (why did they even bother renewing it???)

I was only disappointed about the cancellations of Brimstone, Firefly, and John Doe. I never watched the other three. But, come on, even NBC let Seaquest DSV drag out 3 whole seasons.

Since Fox seems interested and willing to air genre shows, but only up to a certain point (unless they have astronomical ratings), it seems perfect for them to do these one-shot deals.

There are three main possibilities for how Prison Break could go. (1) They break out halfway through the season, and the 2nd half is all about the aftermath and solving the conspiracy while on the run as fugitives, with the season/series finale being the clearing of Lincoln’s name—end of story. (2) They break out in the season finale, in which a 2nd season could be carry the aftermath/conspiracy/fugitive angle making it a little awkward to call the show Prison Break if it’s no longer about being in prison (and making a season 3 almost ludicrous). (3) It could actually be a long-term show in which the execution of Lincoln is delayed, the breakout is delayed, and the planning to break out continues to evolve slowly over an excruciating period of time, allowing the show to last 2 or 3 seasons or more, with the final breakout probably occurring in the series finale or as soon as they're given cancellation notice. My guess is scenario #1.

There are three main possibilities for how Reunion could go. (1) It’s guaranteed to last one full season to tell the story, but it’s only one story, and therefore, only one season—that’s it. (2) No matter how good the whole story is planned to be, and no matter how good the quality is, if the ratings are bad, it gets cancelled, and there’s an original concept all used up. (3) It actually ends up being so good that they continue the show with a different cast of characters each season, the 2nd season being about years 1987 to 2006, 3rd season about 1988 to 2007, etc. My guess is again, scenario #1.

This could actually work for Fox. If these shows are good enough, they’ll supply the instant financial gratification that the suits no doubt want. But, since there is little, if any, assumption that the shows would/could continue past year one, there’s little need to hassle over contract negotiations, renewal decisions, sophomore season slumps, etc.

Instead of DVD sales being a welcome after-effect or a downright necessity, these shows are practically being made for the very purpose of DVDs. It’s hard to justify paying hundreds of dollars for a series that lasts several years, and almost as hard to pay for a series that feels incomplete because they didn’t finish telling their story. If these shows intentionally wrap it up in one full-sized season, you get a good complete story without breaking your piggy bank.

This could be almost brilliant if they can refrain from screwing it up.

Anyway, I was sufficiently intrigued to set a TiVo season pass so I don'’t miss any of the future episodes and I'’ll keep watchng for now.

I just recently bought a TiVo. What a glorious machine. :) I only got the 40-hour version, but that’s enough. I probably watch too much TV anyway. In fact, now that I have it recording Deep Space Nine on SpikeTV for me, I might be watching even more. ;)
People keep saying that Fox is quick to kill SF or fantasy shows, but if you look at the real numbers that is really a crock. 1) They are fairly quick to kill any show that doesn't seem to be making its numbers or at least its demographics - and in that they are no different than any other network. SF/Fantasy fans, being the narcisistic little creatures they tend to be, focus almost exclusively on the fate of "their" shows in part because they care more about them and in part because they don't watch many of the mainstream shows that get cancelled just as quickly and therefore don't notice their fates. 2) Fox has actually been more willing to take a chance on SF and fantasy shows, and therefore has had more of them to cancel. The major networks hardly touched genre televisoin at all between about 1990 and 2005 - only in the past year or so have they shown an interest in trying out at least some "one step beyond mainstream" shows like the upcoming Nightstalker reboot, Lost, Invasion, that CBS thing about little mechanical aliens or whatever the hell they are, and the doomed Jennifer Love Hewitt bomb-to-be The Ghost Whisperer (no show with a title that stupid - that farily screams "We need to get the idea across to these brain-dead network execs" - is going to survive.)

But, come on, even NBC let Seaquest DSV drag out 3 whole seasons.

NBC was contractually obligated to run Sequest: BFD for at least three years. Don't forget, the show's executive producer was S*P*E*I*L*B*E*R*G and the network was running a poor third in what was still a three-network race. The president of NBC entertainment would have sold his firstborn to secure a series from the maestro, and very nearly did. Absent Stephen S's involvement and that idiot contract Seaquest probably wouldn't have made it through season one, much less gone through two desperate total format changes trying to find an audience.


Talking of ratings, Prison Break was down quite a bit in its second week and was third in the hour. But it did come first in the 18–49 demo.
Is this still going? No cancellation notice yet? I just finished watching episode 3 and am pleasently surprised by how much I am enjoying it.

There was an article I was reading in SFX a few months ago about shows coming in Autumn (Fall). Josh Pate (Writer and Executive Producer of Surface) said:

That's the great thing that Lost opened up, as well as TIVO and the DVD sales of TV shows. The mantra used to be, don't serialise because it won't syndicate. But now the attitude is that it won't syndicate, but we'll sell shitloads of DVDs.

Which echoes what has been said, but it certainly looks like people making the shows are aware of this fact.
I read somewhere (possibly the TV Guide website) that when 24 takes over the Monday 9:00 time slot that the remaining episodes of Prison Break will be held until... MAY 2006!?!?!

I'd rather them move PB to a different night and continue showing it than to hold it for almost half a year. I guess Fox may be short on open time slots since American Idol is about to start back up again too.

I don't know how the Prison Break holdover will affect international viewing.
:( I get so behind the times when it comes to television and what's on when... I did see the previews for Prison Break, and a few commercial since, but have never watched it. It looked like an interesting premise with a lot of different ways to go with the story. Maybe FOX will change their minds?? Stranger things have happened... :)
The last I heard that they were still in discussions and may decide to put Prison Break in a different time slot. I hope they do that instead of delaying until May. I hadn't watched any of Prison Break until they did a special on a Saturday that showed all episodes, since then I have been hooked. Thank goodness for Tivo or I would miss most of the episodes, since I have Scouts on Monday nights.

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