July 25, 2008
Months ago it was announced that the producers of Prison Break were planning to launch a spin-off set at a women’s prison, but the talks were quickly curtailed when the writers’ strike shut down Hollywood. Now that production on the FOX series is back to normal, Prison Break executive producer Matt Olmstead and co-executive producer Zack Estrin have revealed that they still have plans for a spin-off. The original idea was to introduce a female character on the regular series and then send her off into her own show, but that idea has been abandoned. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new series, which will likely be known as Prison Break: Cherry Hill, will instead have an all new cast of characters dealing with life in a women’s penitentiary.
Though the original plan involved spinning off an already established character, Olmstead revealed that a variety of problems led to the decision to go in another direction. “We had trouble casting for it. . . then the strike happened,” he said. “By the time we resumed the season, we decided to scrap that idea of doing it that way. We’re in the homestretch of writing it.”
Estrin compared the idea for the new series to CSI: NY, stating that it would be a spin-off of the brand but not any of the characters. Does Prison Break have strong enough name recognition to launch a sister show without any familiar faces? In my opinion, the best spin-offs are those that differ greatly from their predecessors, while the forgettable ones are those that create the exact same show in a different location. I’m worried that Prison Break: Cherry Hill will be too similar to the original show, with the sex of the characters being the only major difference. However, if the creators provide an intriguing glimpse into the life of female prisoners, the show could wind up a success.
With the script for the spin-off’s pilot episode nearing completion, we should hear word soon about whether FOX plans to move ahead with it. Until then, the original Prison Break will return with its fourth season premiere on September 1.
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