Prison Break originally consisted of four seasons of a total of eighty-one television episodes. However, due to its popularity, Prison Break grew into a much bigger production that spread out across many more media platforms. First, inspired by the original TV series, a low-budget spin-off series called Prison Break: Proof of Innocence emerged exclusively for mobile phones. These twenty-six short mobisodes – they had a duration of two minutes – later became available on the Internet as well. Second, the print media started producing Prison Break-related works. Not only an official magazine with interviews with the cast and crew members was created, but also a novel, Prison Break: The Classified FBI Files, was written. Third, six short webisodes named ‘Prison Break: Visitations’ were made exclusively for Fox. Fourth, a video game based on the series was developed for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, in which you could walk in the shoes of a Company employee, the enemy of the main Characters. Then fifth and lastly, an interactive experience of Prison Break has been set up by the Sudden Impact! Entertainment Company. The live feature, which is called ‘Prison Break LIVE!’ tours around the world and gives you a haunted house-like experience, adapted to the settings of Prison Break (Wikipedia, 2012).
Every medium was able to stand alone; however, they all contribute to the bigger story in their own way. In the mobisodes you could follow a woman that was trying to find proof to exonerate Lincoln Burrows, one of the main characters of the series. The novel told its own story, but was relatable to the second season. Then the video game allows you to experience the story from another perspective. And finally, the live, interactive feature adds to the greater experience of Prison Break, by attempting to let people experience the setting of the show.
As for the launching of the show; it was originally a pilot. Fox TV first didn’t believe that it would become this popular, but after seeing how popular similar series became, like Lost, Fox gave the script writer Scheuring another chance (The Age, 2006). The plan was first to run just thirteen episodes, but due to the popularity of the first season this was extended to twenty-two episodes. There was not something special planned to launch the show on television in the first season. However, for its second season Prison Break threw a party to launch the series (Youtube, 2011). Thus, after the popularity of the show there was more emphasis on the launch of the series, as all the other seasons do have trailers to announce their premieres. The Prison Break Xbox game, “Prison Break: The Conspiracy”, that came out in 2010, was launched with an official trailer
The series’ successfulness shows in the receiving of several nominations and awards, and having an average of 8.2 million viewers throughout their four seasons, according to ABC Medianet (2008). Unfortunately, the video game was not that successful, receiving ratings such as 2/10 from the Daily Telegraph (2010) and 3/10 from video gaming website Gamespot (2010). However, the Prison Break: Proof of Innocence mobisodes were such a hit that they were added onto the season 1 DVD set.
All of this shows that Prison Break is indeed a good example of transmedia, because the different media shows that it is not an adaption, but rather an extension to the Prison Break experience. The different worlds of stories come together but are not entirely dependent on one another. All of this shows that Prison Break truly is a transmedia production.
P.S. To get an idea what the interactive experience is like, watch the video:
By Vivian, Ghezal Arian & Shelley Barendregt
ABC Medianet. (2008, December 9). Retrieved September 18, 2012, from ABC: http://abcmedianet.com/web/dnr/dispDNR.aspx?id=120908_05
“Into the heart of darkness” (2006, January 26). Retrieved September 17, 2012 from The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/news/tv–radio/into-the-heart-of-darkness/2006/01/24/1138066797049.html/
PrisonBreak Review. (2010, April 09). Retrieved September 18, 2012, from Gamespot: http://www.gamespot.com/prisonbreak/reviews/prison-break-the-conspiracy-review-6257479/
Prison Break S2 Launch Party on ET Canada (2011, February 1). Retrieved September 18, 2012 from Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfqKQRc0Glk/
Prison Break: The Conspiracy video game review. (2010, March 31). Retrieved September 18, 2012, from The Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/7541334/Prison-Break-The-Conspiracy-video-game-review.html
Wikipedia, (2012). Prison Break: Other Media. Retrieved September 17, 2012 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_Break#Other_media