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US TV Interview

'Prison Break' creator Paul Scheuring

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'Prison Break' creator Paul Scheuring

Scheuring: The man with a plan

Following in the footsteps of Lost and 24 before it, Prison Break entered the world of serialised drama in 2005, immediately striking a chord with TV audiences.

The concept of the show was deceptively simple - a drama about prisoners attempting to break out - but a clever overarching plot involving scandal at the White House, coupled with the now-standard character backstories, made it compelling viewing for many.

In an exclusive chat, show creator Paul Scheuring tells all about the show's success - and spills the beans on what's to come for the Burrows boys.

Many people believe that season 1 should have ended on episode 21, just after they'd gone over the wall. Did you always intend the series to end where the airplane flew over their heads?
"We opted to end the first season after they were outside the walls for two reasons: we anticipated that the audience would think that getting over the walls would end the season, so we wanted to surprise them by making it happen an episode earlier; and moreover, we wanted to 'platform' season two by showing a little of what was to be expected before we went off the air. A lot of people at the time were saying, "Yeah, but the series will be over once they escape." We wanted to show within the body of season one that that wouldn't be the case."

Series two is now underway here in the UK. What's to come in the first half of the series?
"Lots of death. It's important to us that there be very real ramifications for season two. If all 8 of our escapees just continue to run with impunity, it was our feeling that the season would get very old, very quick. So we slowly wanted to pick off one character after another, so that the audience starts to a scheme... namely that these guys, one by one, are dying. Thereby leaving the question: will ANYONE be left standing at the end?"

How much do shows like Lost and 24 influence you in the serialised drama stakes?
"They have no influence on us whatsoever."

Michael's tattoo seems to have faded into the background in the first half of series 2 - is there anything more to come from it?
"Yes, there are a few more steps in the plan - encoded into the tattoo - that will be revealed over the course of the season. Particularly at the end."

You're renowned for the show's gore - and you've definitely delivered in series 2. I'm presuming there's more to come?
"Yes, more gore. Count on it!"

How much of the plot do you plan in advance? For example, did you know when you started to film the first few eps that a pipe was going to be in the way in series 1?
"As a writing staff, we plan ahead for virtually all of the main 'tentpole' moments. In the case of the pipe being in the way in season one, we definitely planned that from the outset. Major turning points are always well-scripted in advance. What comes out of T-Bag's mouth of course isn't. The structure is largely known in advance, it's just the smaller particulars that get worked out as we go along."

How do you think the second season compares to the first?
"They're two very different beasts. There'll always be a nostalgia for the first season, because it was first and fresh out of the box. But season two has a scope, a sense of wide-open American lands, that's sort of fresh in its own right. I guess it's like having children. They're different. But you love them the same. Usually."

Do you know how this season is going to end? Are we going to get a cliff hanger ending?
"Of course and of course!"

Are you still on course to wrap up the main plotlines by the end of this series?
"I'd say about 80 percent of the plotlines are resolved this year. Certainly the mystery behind the president and Terrance Steadman, as well as the President's fate. And most of our characters' fates as well."

How can the plot go on (into a third series) if you're wrapping up the main plot at the end of the current season?
"Re-invent, just like we did in season 2. The only thing I will say at this stage is that it will be a much more stripped-down, brutal, violent version of the show than we've seen in the past. Seasons one and two will seem tame in comparison."

Had you always envisaged it as a one or two season show?
"The main storyline I always saw as two seasons. However, having said that, with our success, and with Fox champing at the bit for us to deliever a third season, we've morphed the show again, allowing the original story to largely play itself out as originally conceived, but then move on to a next 'chapter'."

We're led to believe that you're already putting pen to paper for a third series - what's the official line on this? Any clues as to what to expect?
"We haven't officially been picked up for season 3. But it seems imminent. Our ratings are some of the highest on Fox. (A pittance compared to American Idol, but no one can compare to that beast.) We'll be back. And like I said, about season 3... it'll be brutal."

Prison Break airs Mondays at 10pm on Five

... and check Tube Talk later this week for more from Paul!




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