In 2005 Fox was having a renaissance period for intense action dramas — 24 was at its peak and Prison Break debuted its amazing first season. Michael Scofield’s brother has been wrongly convicted of murder; Scofield plans to break him out using a map of the prison grounds he tattooed all over his body. The season is full of shocking twists and turns, but by the end, the pair do succeed in breaking out.
Then the show had to keep going. If Prison Break had been thought up today, it would’ve been a streaming show and the small length it was meant to be. But since this was 2000s network television, the story would only be over once Fox said it was. There was a season of the brothers running from the law, then a season where Scofield wound up locked inside a DIFFERENT prison, then a fourth season of something else (I had stopped caring by that point). The show “wrapped up” with a direct to DVD movie called The Final Break, where Scofield married his longtime love interest…and then died.
Then he was un-killed by Fox, who still saw value in the label and wanted one more revival season in 2017. So the new situation was that Scofield had been alive the whole time, but held prisoner somewhere, while his wife, believing him to be dead, married another man. But that man turned out to be part of the conspiracy keeping Scofield locked up, and they battle a zillion guys to find each other again. This is the only time Prison Break had a happy ending; the writers seemed to prefer cliffhangers or leaving the characters worse off than they were. “This better be the end,” I thought.
NOPE! SOMEONE WANTS MORE PRISON BREAK! This time it’s Hulu bringing it back…but there is good news of a sort. It can’t be another continuation of the original because Wentworth Miller, the actor who played Scofield, came out as gay and no longer wants to pretend to be hot for Sarah Wayne Callies. “I just don’t want to play straight characters,” he’s quoted as saying. “Their stories have been told (and told). So… no more Michael.” This will be a reboot….which actually might be good news.
On streaming, the show could be the proper length it was always meant to be. It could tell its story quickly and end on its own terms. Of course there are other factors here — good actors, writers and directors are crucial — but if Hulu’s Prison Break is done correctly, it could surpass Fox’s Prison Break by a mile.