You'll have to forgive me for playing catch up over the next few days, my head is still down working on a thing or two that needs attention more than this blog does. I missed news that Fox is putting Prison Break down after this season fills it its season order in mid-April. Zap2it has a funny quote from Kevin Reilly where he says that going beyond a fourth season would be "really stretching the concept." If you've never seen the show, it's funny because Prison Break has been "stretching the concept" since the moment that Fox ordered a second season. This was a show about breaking out of prison, after all, how much more could you stretch the concept than accomplishing the escape, only to follow the escapees (season 2), then having them incarcerated again, only to watch them break out again (season 3)? Well, how about a forth season where our heroes, all of whom are actual criminals with the exception of one, try to take down a secret corporate/government agency bent on world domination?
So long as I'm on the topic, can we please excise "the company" from the realms of fiction for all time? It's moved from cliche to extremely bad cliche.
Now I've written about my concept of the one-off series where it's ok to come up with an idea that can't be stretched beyond a single season, that the networks should embrace it by producing the finest single season that they can, then moving on to something else.
Prison Break, in my opinion, proves my point about how well a single-season series can perform -- PB was a breakout hit -- and also how sad it can be to try to stretch an otherwise sweet achievement like that too long.
The show has kept my attention for four years but like Cate Cropp over at CliqueClack, I'm thankful that Fox has freed me from the disappointment each week where I go in expecting to see more of the magic they had from the first season, only to see less, even if the series is still very watchable.
Sometimes watchable just isn't enough.
On a related note, this is probably very bad news for fans of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. SCC has similar ratings to Prison Break, although it might cost less to produce since Terminator is only in its second season, it has already been banished to Friday nights when it returns. Fox apparently has interfered with it creatively -- a sure sign that a show is about to go under -- according to series star Thomas Dekker (John Connor).
In an interview with Scifi Wire, Dekker said "when we started the second season, kind of one of the requests of sort of the powers that be was that we did more singular episodes, less serialized." The "mission of the week" problem was one that I've given some thought to recently as it's related to something I've been working since the end of December. There's a lot of room to work within the SCC universe and it's always worn on my nerves that they so quickly devolved into that dreaded "mission of the week" syndrome, similar to what plagued Threshold practically from the second episode until it was canceled.
That stuff works for crime procedurals because crimes on TV have a set beginning, middle and end. You discover the crime, you investigate the crime, and then you solve the crime. General dramas don't work that way and every time a network forces them to try to be something that they are not, rather than just putting those kinds of shows on the air instead, the result tends to resemble a mud pie.
So it's good that the execs realized their mistake and are going back to something that at least gives the show a chance to be nothing other than what it really is. But with ratings nearly identical to Prison Break, in the end, it probably won't matter either way.