Monday, December 14, 2009


I'll say this about bad weather; it gives me an excuse to catch up on my TV. Thus this week I consumed the entire A&E remake of The Prisoner.

Presold property or not, it's hard to imagine a product more likely to piss off its target audience. And man, does this series annoy the fans. Typical is this comment from the IMDb listing:

As a fan of the original Prisoner I can't begin to say how incredibly disappointed I am with this "remake". The "plot" is non-existent and makes no sense.
There are 82 comments at this writing; they're almost all by fans of the original series and they all hate the new series. And I think they all hate it for the wrong reasons.

At the risk of seeming unmutual, let me play Number 2's advocate here and suggest that the new Prisoner is a mostly successful take on the concept. That is, the new guys made a few controversial choices (which I won't go into because I'm not a spoiler guy) and the reason you liked the old Prisoner so much is for its own controversial choices. For example the quote above - did they guy manage to make sense of "Fall Out," the insane final episode of Prisoner V1? I'm not even sure Patrick McGoohan knew what it was about, and he wrote and directed it.

Most of the fan criticism I've read is of the opinion that the new guys didn't understand the original series, but obviously they understood it enough diverge from it. Would McGoohan have approved? He probably wouldn't have written it the same, but he would have approved of a new direction. And now that I think of it, this has been in the works since 2005, so McGoohan probably at least read a script.

In fact, the fans might be a lot more favorably disposed toward this series if Paddy Fitz lived to film the cameo at the beginning. In the first minutes of the new series 6 wakes up in the desert, disoriented; his eyes fall on a very old man running through the hills, attempting to escape his captors. That old man was supposed to be McGoohan, if I recall correctly. Had he gotten killed off in those first few minutes, it would have been a stamp of approval which would have allowed fans to just relax and enjoy the ride.

So having said that, the new series has a few things to recommend it - splendid casting of every character except the lead (Jim Caviezel is okay but he just can't seem to find the right balance between victim and protagonist - and even that seems to be a flaw in the writing, not the acting), nice new Village, liberal use of the sunny and creepy music of Brian Wilson, and mostly consistant internal logic. Okay, I can't go into that for obvious reasons, but there are a few lapses. I think. It might be worth watching again. And yes it's pretty confusing at times, but that's an essential narrative strategy. Plus it's only six episodes, which means less filler. Let's see Lost make its point in six, baby!

Maybe the only thing that's really wrong with this show is that I have to spend a whole blog post justifying why I liked it. Hey, I'm a fan of the old series too... it's brainwashed me.

1 comment:

  1. My only real objection to the new one is that it is all going on in people's heads; it is not real. This is just laziness. What's the point of a dream if you only get to dream it and do not ever really live it... Sheesh.... Bummer.