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Prison Break is an American television series that premiered on the Fox Network on August 29, 2005. The story revolves around a man who was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit and his brother's elaborate plan to help him escape his death sentence. Created by Paul Scheuring, the show is produced by Adelstein-Parouse Productions in association with Original Television and 20th Century Fox Television. The current executive producers are Paul Scheuring, Matt Olmstead, Dawn Parouse, Marty Adelstein, Neal Moritz and Brett Ratner. Its theme music is composed by Ramin Djawadi, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 2006. The show is currently undergoing its second season, which premiered on August 21, 2006. Regarding the future of the series, executive producer Paul Scheuring says, "With success comes questions about season three, so now we’re framing the first two seasons as chapter one of the ‘trilogy’."
The serialized story structure of Prison Break is attributed to the format of storytelling adapted by the writers as each episode covers a part of the escape plan, a similar format used by Lost and 24. The first season of Prison Break was primarily filmed at Joliet Prison which also contributed to the uniqueness of the show. Its success and recognition as a prison drama also revived interest in the genre. In popular culture, the show was featured in the 465th issue of the humor magazine, Mad as "Prison Fake". The show's official magazine, published by Titan Publishing, was launched on 21 November 2006.
Premiered on August 29, 2005 in the United States and Canada, the first season featured a total of 22 episodes. Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is accused of the murder of Terrence Steadman, who is the brother of the female Vice President of the United States. With strong evidence supporting the charges of first degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm against him, Lincoln is sentenced to death and is sent to the Fox River State Penitentiary to await his execution. Lincoln's brother, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), is convinced of Lincoln's innocence and hatches an escape plan. After installing himself at Fox River, time works against Michael as he must overcome various obstacles and make the right connections among the inmates and prison staff to be successful in breaking out his brother. The actors who were cast as the protagonists Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows, were the last to join the main cast. Miller was chosen six days before the start of production and Purcell was cast three days later. The protagonists are aided by Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney), who begins to investigate the conspiracy that put Lincoln in jail. However, they are hindered by covert agents, who belong to an organization known as "The Company".
The second season began airing in the United States and Canada on August 21, 2006. The story continues eight hours after the prison escape from Fox River State Penitentiary, focusing mainly on the escapees. New characters are introduced, including a federal agent Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner), who is assigned to track down and capture the eight escapees. "The Company" continues their plan to locate and eliminate Lincoln Burrows and others who get in their way. Furthermore, the position of the characters remain ambiguous as more characters become involved in the conspiracy plot.
Cast and characters
The series premiere had eight major speaking roles with star billing. Death-row inmate Lincoln Burrows is played by Dominic Purcell, while Lincoln's brother Michael Scofield is played by Wentworth Miller. Robin Tunney was cast as Veronica Donovan, the brothers' childhood friend and lawyer. Amaury Nolasco plays Michael's Fox River cellmate, Fernando Sucre. Marshall Allman plays Lincoln's son, Lincoln "L.J." Burrows, Jr.. Peter Stormare was cast as John Abruzzi, a Fox River prisoner and Chicago mob boss. Brad Bellick, the captain of Fox River's correctional officers is played by Wade Williams. Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Dr. Sara Tancredi, was the first actress the producers saw at the audition for the role and was also the first to become a principal cast member. The eight initial main cast members were subsequently joined by Paul Adelstein, who plays Agent Paul Kellerman, a secret service agent involved in the conspiracy behind Lincoln's conviction, Robert Knepper and Rockmond Dunbar, who play Fox River prisoners Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell and Benjamin Miles "C-Note" Franklin respectively. After the thirteenth episode, Peter Stormare became a guest star with Rockmond Dunbar switching from being a recurring guest star to a regular cast member.
Major recurring cast members from the first season include Stacy Keach as Warden Henry Pope and Frank Grillo as project justice lawyer Nick Savrinn. Lane Garrison, Muse Watson and Silas Weir Mitchell play Fox River prisoners David "Tweener" Apolskis, Charles Westmoreland and Charles "Haywire" Patoshik respectively. Additionally, some of the walk-on characters who played prisoners actually served time at the Joliet Prison.
The second season began with eleven principal speaking roles with star billing. FBI agent Alexander Mahone, played by William Fichtner, was introduced and assigned to track the fugitives. This coincided with the quick exit of Robin Tunney, whose character was killed in the season premiere. There were other shifts in the casting with Jeff Perry replacing John Billingsley who was cast as a regular on the ABC series The Nine. Camille Guaty, who played Sucre's girlfriend Maricruz Delgado, was also cast on the same show. Similarly, Patricia Wettig, who plays Caroline Reynolds, has been cast on an ABC drama, Brothers and Sisters, and will not be seen for at least the first few episodes, but she may return during season 2.