Who doesn't love a good prison break story? Summit has one on the way this fall with Escape Plan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, and now NBC has enlisted Greg Berlanti and Seth Grahame-Smith to develop a futuristic prison drama called Paradise. From the described premise, this prison sounds like anything but paradise, but maybe that's the point.
Deadline reports that NBC has given the project a put-pilot commitment. Paradise is written by Grahame-Smith and is set in the later part of this century in the city of Las Vegas, which has been made over as the world's largest maximum-security prison, called Paradise. The story follows Dr. Matthew Turner, Paradise's newest inmate, who's convicted of a murder he didn't commit. Naturally, he wants out of Paradise so he can prove his innocence. "Matthew will have to find a strength he never knew he had," Deadline's report states. "And stay alive long enough to do the one thing no inmate has ever done: escape."
"Futuristic prison break" sells the concept well enough on its own, as it implies something a bit more complex and out there than the last successful prison break drama to grab our attention. I am, of course, referring to Fox's Prison Break, which aired for four seasons from 2004-2009. With that in mind, I like that the title of NBC's project is based on the prison and not the efforts to get out. Prison Break was a great series when its focus was on escaping prison, but once the concept veered away from that, the plot and characters got a bit scattered. If Paradise aims to center itself around the actual prison and not entirely on Turner's efforts to get out, it may stand a better chance of holding up beyond its first season or two. But that's thinking a bit far ahead. The project's in the early stages of development at this point.
The drama is being developed through Warner Bros. TV. Deadline notes that Berlanti (Arrow) and Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) both have feature deals with Warner Bros. and that both are working on both big and small screen projects. Berlanti's particularly active with the small screen, with Arrow going strong and an executive producer credit for the CW's upcoming remake The Tomorrow People. He also has the reported Flash drama in the works, also for The CW.
Grahame-Smith is working on the sequel to Beetlejuice, which won't be his first Tim Burton-related project, as he penned the script for Burton's Dark Shadows. He's also working on the adaptation of his novel Unholy Night. So it seems both writers are keeping pretty busy, but this Paradise project sounds like it could be a winner for NBC, assuming it gets beyond the pilot phase. At the very least, the premise sounds exciting and different. I'm particularly curious to see how the city of Las Vegas could be turned into a prison.
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