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Just when you think Syfy is done expanding their development slate, those crazy kids go ahead and add something else to their ever-growing list of future shows. Today they announced their latest endeavor, the futuristic prison drama 51st State, and it sounds like something we can totally get into.
The one-hour drama is set in the nearish future when the prison population in the United States has grown so vast, so out of control, that there is nowhere left incarcerate criminals. And here is the best solution you’ve ever heard, the government buys Greenland—yes, they buy Greenland, because that’s something you can do in the future, purchase a whole other country—and convert the island nation into frontier style prison colony, one where both male and female convicts are mixed together.
There are definitely dystopian elements in play here, and you can’t help but be reminded of John Carpenter’s classic Escape From New York with the whole island prison thing. The inmates of this new facility are reportedly promised freedom, but the government breaks that promise, along with many others, and the prisoners are pushed to the edge of their humanity trying to survive. “Struggling to seize control and exact revenge, reluctant heroes emerge—but what exactly are they fighting for?”
It’s easy to imagine this devolving into a collection of warring factions or clans, especially as the battle for resources will be ratcheted up a few notches during the brutally cold winter months. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of characters and stories they come up with to populate this place, but the set up sounds like it could be cool, and there is definite potential here. I certainly hope they decide to go for a more exploitation style with this one. They probably won’t go that route, but a guy can dream, right?
Though details are fairly sparse at this stage, 51st State has a solid creative team in place behind the scenes, too. Craig Borten, the Oscar-nominated writer behind Dallas Buyers Club, sold the pitch to the network and will pen the pilot episode. Fox 21 Television Studios is handling the production, while Peter Chernin (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Katherine Pope (New GirlM), are on board to take care of the executive producing duties along with Borten.
There’s no timeline for 51st State, but this sounds promising and joins a ton of other potentially awesome new genre shows on the network. The list includes The Expanse, Old Man’s War, Childhood’s End, Pax Romana, 12 Monkeys, and tons more, including a Superman prequel series.