November 16, 2009By Joe Diliberto Posted: Nov 16, 2009
AMC launched the first two installments of its six-part remake of the British series THE PRISONER last night, and I can honestly say this is not your grandfather's PRISONER. And that's not a good thing: The show is as dry as the desert that surrounds the Village on all sides.
This 2009 version uses the 1967-'68 series as a jumping-off point, but it leaves out a key ingredient that made the original such bracing television: tension. In the original, Patrick McGoohan played a secret agent who quit and found himself trapped in a mysterious Village — a seemingly idyllic resort designed to uncover the secret of his disenchantment. There, his name was replaced by number: 6. The Village is run by the mysterious No. 2, an ever-changing bureaucrat. But in the 2009 version, No. 2 gets humanized with a family life, and is played by Sir Ian McKellen as a delightfully sinister predator. However, as the new No. 6, James Caviezel seems to take playing a mystery man as license to avoid giving him a personality.
It's still early, but the new version has adopted only some of the better-known tropes of the original run: The characters repeat the catchphrase "Be seeing you" — but without the accompanying hand gesture (which resembles the "OK" sign). And, strangely, only one old man wears the characteristic cricket jacket that was the ‘60s uniform of the Village. And while Caviezel says, "I am not a number," repeatedly, I missed McGoohan's defiant motto: "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
Well, at least soap fans must have chuckled to see the entire Village addicted to the (fictional) soap opera WONKERS!
Based on last night's two-parter, I'm not really holding out much hope for tonight's Parts 3-4, but despite my better judgment I'll say, "Be seeing you." (For one more night, at least...)