A Stretch of Time: Extended Distribution and Narrative Accumulation in Prison Break

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter I argue that the new distributive regimes within the contemporary television industry have given rise to new narrative temporalities. In particular, a number of series such as 24 (Fox, 2001 – 2010) bear many hallmarks of what has been called “network time” (Castells 1996), namely acceleration and real-time. Although scholars maintain that “network time” is the dominant temporality of the twenty-first century, I argue that the flexibility of distribution in contemporary television has resulted in multiple narrative temporalities.

To illustrate this point I use Prison Break (Fox, 2005 - 2009) as a way to complicate and challenge many of the assumptions made by “network time” scholarship. By taking an industrial-textual approach this chapter highlights the interdependent relationship between narrative and distribution, whilst also revealing key differences between the seriality of shows such as Prison Break (which uses “serialized seasons”) versus series such as 24 (which uses “episodic seasons”).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTime in Television Narrative
Subtitle of host publicationExploring Temporality in 21st Century Programming
Place of PublicationMississippi
PublisherUniversity Press of Mississippi
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Prison Break
  • Narrative
  • Temporality
  • Television
  • Fox
  • Seriality

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