Dominicpurcell_prisonbreak_240_002Friday (March 9) night’s Prison Break session at the Museum of Television and Radio’s Paley Festival offered few revelations about the serialized drama’s presumptive third season, but we do know this: The eighth season of Prison Break will take place on Mars.

So says Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring. He’s probably joking, but given the show’s reliable tendency toward outlandish plotlines, would it really be such a surprise?

No, Scheuring knows that unlike an E.R. or a CSI or a Law & Order, shows that can just reload whenever an unusual case hits the news, Prison Break is finite. Those wacky convicts couldn’t take forever to escape and they can’t really stay on the run forever, can they? In fact, the feature-trained scribe told the adoring audience that his plan had always been to tell the entire Prison Break story in two seasons ("That was with the assumption that nobody would watch at all," he says), but that the practical considerations of the industry will probably prevent that.

"The long and short of it is that if [executive producer Matt Olmstead] and I said, ‘The show is over in 44 episodes,’ they’d say ‘You’re over in 44 episodes.’"

Instead, Scheuring says that while he will still tie up most of the main plotlines in the season’s final three upcoming episodes, there will be sufficient connective tissue to move into a third season, assuming that FOX decides to renew the series.

The fans certainly asked, but Scheuring said very little else about the third season, except that "there’s a certain sense of redemption" and that it will be "more stripped down, closer to the Earth and brutal." He also warned that not everybody on the Paley Festival stage — a group including co-stars Dominic Purcell, Rockmond Dunbar, Wade Williams, Robert Knepper, Amaury Nolasco and Sarah Wayne Callies — would survive, which also shouldn’t be a surprise for viewers of the casualty-happy show. Scheuring notes that Prison Break will continue to shoot in Dallas next season, but also tossed in the information that second unit work would be done in Florida and Louisiana, which may be meaningless, or it may be important.

Some additional Prison Break Paley highlights:

  • In the Prison Break pilot, Sucre (Nolasco) uses Michael Schofield (Wentworth Miller) as something of a thesaurus, in writing a love letter to his girlfriend. That may not be such a stretch, as Nolasco says, "I’m such a bad reader. I take the comics and I imagine what they’re saying. So in order for a script to grab me, it has to be a page turner." The Prison Break script was one such page-turner, though Nolasco says he still prefers not to be in the loop on his character’s future, waiting on each episode’s script. "Every page I turn it’s like, ‘I’m not dead yet!’
  • Robertknepper_prisonbreak_240_4Shortly before he got Prison Break, Knepper was considering other career options. He’d signed up to teach a UCLA acting class for $50 a week and he’d applied to be a park ranger ("Imagine me, I was gonna wear that hat… I never heard from them"). Knepper, though, has his final audition on the same day Michael Jackson was acquitted on charges of child molestation, and while he won’t say he drew inspiration from the King of Pop for his T-Bag character, he recalls, "I thought, ‘If Michael Jackson can get away with it, T-Bag can get away with it.’" Knepper adds that he got a job offer to ranger at the Will Rogers State Park shortly after Prison Break premiered. He turned it down.

    Of the repugnant T-Bag, Knepper says, "If I were playing this character in a movie, it’s done in a few months, but this goes on and on and on." He swears (not entirely correctly), "For me, T-Bag is not a guy who goes out and kills people. He only kills people because he wants to stay alive.

  • Purcell was shooting his multi-episode arc as superstar chef Tommy Ravetto on FOX’s North Shore when he first got the script. He contributed nothing more meaningful than that (and a hint about a fist-fight with a North Shore cast member the night before his audition), but I just like to occasionally mention North Shore. That Tommy sure made things rough for Jason and Nicole, didn’t he? Good times.
  • Speaking of short-lived FOX shows nobody remembers, Rockmond Dunbar’s C-Note was in the pilot, but they couldn’t immediately commit to making the character a regular, the actor went off and signed on for FOX’s pilot Head Cases, which was picked up, at which point the producers realized they wanted Dunbar back.

    Rockmonddunbar_prisonbreak_240_1"We said, ‘Hopefully Head Cases will get on air and no one will watch it,’" Scheuring says.

    "We didn’t say that," insists horrified executive producer Dawn Parouse.

    "No, we did say that," protests Scheuring. "She’s lying." 

  • Michael’s tattoo, so central to the plot of the first season, so irrelevant this season, will return in at least one of the season’s closing episodes, possibly as soon as Monday’s show.
  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg