Prison Break ends its four-year run next month, and executive producer Matt Olmstead has absolutely zero regrets. Well, maybe just one. That's an atypical attitude from a producer of a cancelled show with a rabid fan base, but Olmstead isn't sweating it.
"At the wrap party, there was a real sense of accomplishment," Olmstead said on a conference call this morning. "There was no feeling of 'we got cut short' or 'we could have gone more years.' It feels as though the story got [told in its entirety]."
Most of that feeling comes from the way Olmstead and his team set up the final season, which returns this Friday for its final episodes. Because the producers "kind of knew all along" that this would be the final season of Prison Break, they were able to set up storylines from the very beginning of the cycle. In fact, Olmstead sees the early signs of the show's end (cancellation doesn't seem like the right word here) as a "benefit," because he was able to get the big ending he wanted.
The show's fans probably won't see it that way, but Olmstead feels that the show ended at the right time, partly because he doesn't know where it could have gone.
"The ideas that were tossed around in terms of what could be season five were pretty thin," he explains. "Even if it went that way, it would've limped out. … [No ideas for season five] really took hold in terms of inspiring anybody."
Olmstead promises some shocking moments and plenty of loose ends tied up in the upcoming episodes. There will be several familiar faces, but Olmstead chooses to highlight one, who he says will come into the mix "when the wheels are coming off for everybody, and [he/she] is there to either save the day, or hijack the entire thing for his/her own benefit."
Even the Michael and Sarah storyline isn't immune to some major bait-and-switching. "For a while there, it felt like they were kind of Bonnie & Clyde, and it worked for one episode," he says of the two. But once they were together, the producers had to decide what to do with them. "What seems like two people joined at the hip who want the same thing" will be thrown for a loop in the finale.
As for future Prison Break possibilities, Olmstead isn't holding his breath. The previously announced spinoff featuring a female prison isn't looking good, because they couldn't get the actress they wanted, the writers strike derailed the momentum on the project, and another show with a strong female lead (Terminator) wasn't doing well in the ratings. "It's on the ground, legs twitching, but there's still a heartbeat perhaps," Olmstead says of the spinoff's chances.
But there will be one last chapter in the Prison Break saga before it goes completely dark. The standalone feature Prison Break--The Final Break was originally planned as part of this season's storyline, but as production went on, it got bumped back and back in the process until there was no room for it. But because Olmstead liked the idea so much, he pitched it to Fox, who loved it.
The series finale features a jump forward in time as its last act, and The Final Break will be set before that jump but after the rest of the events of the finale. According to TVShowsOnDVD.com, The Final Break will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 21.
Prison Break has had its share of questionable moments, but ask Olmstead the one Prison Break moment he maybe regrets and could have done without, and he doesn't hesitate--Michael getting all his tattoos removed overnight. Actor Wentworth Miller's skin was getting irritated by the tattoo application, and they couldn't simply shoot the rest of Prison Break with the actor in a long-sleeve shirt. So instead they sent him to a magical top-secret tattoo removal place.
"It was a bit of a wank," Olmstead says.
Prison Break returns this Friday with an all-new episode at 9 p.m. on Fox, and a replay of the mid-season finale at 8 p.m.