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Prison Break is an American television serial drama created by Paul Scheuring for Fox. The series revolves around two brothers, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) and Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller); Burrows has been sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit, and Scofield devises an elaborate plan to help his brother escape prison and clear his name. The series was produced by Adelstein-Parouse Productions, in association with Original Film and 20th Century Fox Television. Along with creator Paul Scheuring, the series is executive produced by Matt Olmstead, Kevin Hooks, Marty Adelstein, Dawn Parouse, Neal H. Moritz, and Brett Ratner who directed the pilot episode. The series’ theme music, composed by Ramin Djawadi, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 2006. Prison Break is a joint production between Original Film, Adelstein/Parouse Productions, and 20th Century Fox Television and syndicated by 20th Television.
The series was originally turned down by Fox in 2003, which was concerned about the long-term prospects of such a series. Following the popularity of serialized prime time television series Lost and 24, Fox decided to back production in 2004. The first season received mostly positive reviews from critics with universal acclaim from audiences. Furthermore, it performed exceptionally in the ratings and was originally planned for a 13-episode run, but was extended to include an extra nine episodes due to its popularity. The subsequent seasons continued to receive strong ratings, however, received generally positive-to-mixed reviews, with some critics claiming the show had overstayed its welcome. Prison Break was nominated for several industry awards, including the 2005 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series Drama and the 2006 People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama, which it won. In the United States, all five seasons have been released on DVD and released on Blu-ray internationally.
The first season follows the rescue of Lincoln Burrows, who is accused of murdering Terrence Steadman, the brother of Vice President of the United States, Caroline Reynolds. Lincoln is sentenced to death and is incarcerated in Fox River State Penitentiary where he awaits his execution. Lincoln’s brother, brilliant structural engineer Michael Scofield, is convinced of Lincoln’s innocence and formulates an elaborate escape plan. In order to gain access to Fox River, Michael commits an armed robbery which results in him being sentenced to Fox River. In prison, Michael befriends the prison doctor Sara Tancredi when he pretends to suffer from Type 1 diabetes, in order to gain daily access to the prison’s infirmary, where he receives his daily insulin shots. The brothers’ fight to ward off the execution is aided by their lifelong friend Veronica Donovan, who begins to investigate the conspiracy that put Lincoln in jail. However, they are hindered by covert agents, members of an organization called “The Company”.
The Company was responsible for framing Lincoln, and they did so because of Lincoln’s father Aldo Burrows, and his former connections with The Company. The brothers, along with six other inmates, Fernando Sucre, Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell, Benjamin Miles “C-Note” Franklin, David “Tweener” Apolskis, John Abruzzi, and Charles “Haywire” Patoshik, who come to be known as the Fox River Eight, escape in the episode immediately prior to the season finale, after using their prison industry privileges to dig an escape tunnel underneath the prison.
The second season begins eight hours after the escape, focusing mainly on the eight escapees. Series creator Paul Scheuring describes the second season as “The Fugitive times eight” and likens it to the “second half of The Great Escape.” The fugitives split up and journey to locations across the country with the authorities close behind them as they each pursue their individual goals. Brad Bellick gets fired from the prison where he worked as the main guard and chases after the inmates himself for the reward money. Several of the escapees reunite in search of a large cache of money buried long ago by another Fox River inmate, Charles Westmoreland. Federal agent Alexander Mahone is assigned to track down and capture the eight fugitives, but is revealed to be working for The Company, which wants all eight men dead.
When Sara discovers her father, Governor Frank Tancredi, has been killed, she meets with Michael, remaining with him as the brothers try to bring down now-President Reynolds, a Company member. To ensure the brothers’ safety, Sara allows herself to be arrested and faces trial. During the trial, the testimony of former Secret Service agent Paul Kellerman, who used to work for The Company-controlled President, exonerates Lincoln and Sara. Half of the escapees are killed or recaptured, but the brothers make it to Panama. Michael, T-Bag, Mahone, and Bellick are arrested by the Panamanian authorities and imprisoned at the Penitenciaría Federal de Sona.
The third season follows Michael inside Sona and Lincoln on the outside in Panama. Sona is a prison that has been run by the inmates and guarded only from the outside, due to a riot the year before. Inmates are only supplied with food and water and are expected to distribute and serve fellow inmates independently. The surrounding landscape is monitored by armed guard, who shoot at sighting of inmates escaping. Burrows is quickly contacted by Gretchen Morgan (a Company’s operative who was in charge of operations in Panama) who kidnapped his son LJ and Sara, the woman Michael loves. He is told that The Company wants Scofield to break James Whistler out of Sona. The season follows Michael and Whistler’s trials in formulating an escape plan, as Michael has to deal with extreme tension and as Lincoln deals with The Company’s operative Gretchen Morgan.
Sucre gets a job at the prison to aid Michael in his escape plan. When Lincoln attempts to rescue Sara and LJ following a clue provided by Sara, Gretchen claims to have beheaded Sara and sends Lincoln a head in a box as a warning. As the season ends, the pair manage to escape along with Mahone, and another inmate, Luis, leaving behind several accomplices including T-Bag and Bellick. Sucre’s identity is discovered by a prison guard and he is thrown into Sona just after the escape. LJ and Sofia (who was captured for a guarantee that Whistler would go with her) are traded for Whistler, and Michael seeks revenge against Gretchen for Sara’s death.
The major storyline for the fourth season is about a team recruited by Homeland Security agent Don Self to obtain Scylla. Although the team initially believes it to be The Company’s “black book,” it is later revealed to contain information on an advanced renewable power cell. Over the course of the first half of the season, the team obtains cards to access Scylla and breaks into The Company’s headquarters to steal it, Sara is discovered to be alive, Bellick dies when he sacrifices himself, and Self is revealed to be a double agent intent on selling Scylla to the highest bidder. Reluctantly, Lincoln decides to join The Company to get it back, while Michael suffers from a hypothalamic hamartoma. He is treated and operated on by The Company. Michael later learns that his mother, Christina is still alive and was an agent of The Company, who is revealed to acquire Scylla to sell to the highest bidder. Eventually, the series’ main storyline of the past 4 seasons ends in Miami, where Scylla is recovered by Michael and the team, the General and The Company are taken down, and Sara kills Christina.
The last two episodes of the season represent the series finale. In the penultimate episode, Sara is seen buying flowers in Panama with her toddler son, Michael, before visiting Michael’s grave with Lincoln, Sucre and Mahone. The final episode and television movie Prison Break: The Final Break shows what happened between the take down of The Company and Michael’s death. This story involves the incarceration of Sara in the Miami-Dade county penitentiary for Christina’s murder. The General and T-Bag are in the adjacent men’s facility. The General wants Sara dead and has put a $100,000 bounty on her. Michael hears of the bounty and devises a plan to break Sara out. In the end, knowing that he is dying from a brain tumor, Michael sacrifices himself for Sara to escape.
In June 2015, it was reported that a revival was in development at Fox. The limited series is a sequel to the original series, taking place several years later and features Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell reprising their roles as well as the return of series creator Paul Scheuring. Despite Michael being killed in the series finale, Fox CEO Dana Walden said that the series will provide “a logical and believable explanation to why the characters are alive and still moving around the world”.
In January 2016, Fox officially ordered the revival to series, with the episode order revised to nine episodes. In March 2016, it was confirmed that Sarah Wayne Callies, Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper, Rockmond Dunbar and Paul Adelstein would reprise their roles. Filming began in April 2016 in Vancouver, and several Moroccan cities including Rabat, Casablanca, and Ouarzazate. It debuted on April 4, 2017, and aired on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm.
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