Wednesday, July 29, 2009

They've Given You A Number

Don't have much time today so I think I'll fill your time with a nine minute clip and a few paragraphs.

I go back and forth about what my all time favorite television show is. Sometimes it's Mystery Science Theater 3000, the simple and brilliant comedy where a guy and two puppets make fun of bad movies. Other days I'll say Monty Python's Flying Circus. And then there are the days when I quite firmly will say The Prisoner.

The Prisoner is a British show made in the late 60s in which Patrick McGoohan played a spy who resigned from his top secret job but refused to say why. He was then captured and brought to a place called the Village and started an existence that defines the word "surreal". They called him Number Six (we never found out his real name) and, over the course of 17 episodes, came up with various ways to get him to confess why he resigned, most of which involved subtle manipulations. They could alter his perceptions and memories but he was strong enough to keep that one bit of information they wanted out of reach. Along the way, we were introduced to a succession of characters called Number Two, a mysterious dwarf butler who may or may not have been on Six's side and a monster called Rover who would track Six down when he tried to escape. Rover was, in reality, a weather balloon and shouldn't have been frightening, but it was.

Flash forward to 2009. AMC has decided to do an updated Prisoner mini-series which begs the question, "How will they screw it up? Will it just be lame or will its failure be of epic proportions?" That's what I was saying until I saw this (this is about nine minutes long):

Oh my god, could The Prisoner actually end up being good? It seems impossible but that preview isn't half bad. Its makers are showing wisdom in changing some of the basic storyline. Really, when doing a remake, it's dumb to adhere to the source material 100%. I think the art direction was better in the original series. The Village in 1967 had an unreal look to it, as if a caricature of an idyllic country town had come to life. Some of the plot elements are different too but we'll have to wait and see how that works. Of course, you couldn't have made a better choice than Ian McKellen for Number Two.

I'll be really surprised if this updated version of The Prisoner manages to hold up. Then again, I was surprised many years ago when I ended up liking this acid trip of a series in the first place. We'll just have to wait. Until then, be seeing you.

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