As hinted at last week, during the TCA press tour I got some 1-on-2 time with Matt Olmstead and Zack Estrin, the creators of Fox's
Prison Break. I was up front with the guys - as much of a Pollyanna I can be for the series, Season 3 was, well, a bit rocky, and certainly didn't tee up a clear-cut next arc. Here's what they had to say about that, the character they worked hard to keep around, and the boys' latest mission. -
TVGuide.com: Where do we go from here? The ersatz season finale didn't really spell it out.
As you know, we had a whole back nine planned, but the strike cut that out. Ironically, that enabled us creatively to jump forward. So we're not picking up moments later from Season 3.
TVGuide.com: Right, we're jumping ahead a month or so. But any "blanks" would have been filled in had you had a complete Season 3?
Yeah. We would have led the audience to this same point. But now we're starting there and dropping back a little bit to explain the history [through flashbacks].
Zack Estrin: We made the creative decision to not spend the first half of this season wrapping up last season. We wanted to find a way to start with a brand-new story while also honoring all the things we set up at the end of Season 3. The two-hour première wraps things up and sets us on the new journey.
TVGuide.com: I understand the prison breakers will be breaking in someplace?
The only thing harder than breaking out is breaking in!
TVGuide.com: Who was the trickiest character to keep on the canvas?
T-Bag, because his character is not a natural part of this rag-tag team, because there is such animosity. But because of Robert Knepper, we were going to find a way, one way or another, to keep him involved.
Estrin: Part of the fun each season is wondering, "How is T-Bag going to fit into all of this?" He's always a thorn in their side.
Olmsted: But Whistler had that bird book that he left behind in Sona, so T-Bag is now in possession of these codes and secrets. Ultimately, the two trains - T-Bag and Michael - will collide.
Estrin: Originally Michael's tattoos were our story engine. This bird book steps in and takes over a bit, bringing back some of that Season 1 vibe.
TVGuide.com: Is the Cherry Hill/women-in-prison spin-off still in play?
Yes. We had a script that essentially was obsolete in that it was picking up on [Season 3] moments that never got to happen. Plus, we couldn't find the right actress. So we revisited it and thought, "Lets just groom out this continuity of a character and not even try to work her into Prison Break." It's more of a brand spin-off.
TVGuide.com: So we're not going to meet Molly through Michael anymore? [Originally, Molly was supposed to seek out Michael at the Sona prison, starting with last season's Episode 14.]
TVGuide.com: Have you cast her yet?
No. We're almost done with the script, and then we go to studio and network and start that whole process.
TVGuide.com: I've said all along, the spin-off will probably star the only prison inmate prettier than Michael Scofield.
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