26 July 2008

[the_prisoner] AMC's "The Prisoner": This Could End In Tears


After being alerted by The Fire Wire that an AMC "reinterpretation" of The Prisoner was in the offing, I was ready to get the message. Today, on IO9. The message was sent.

The viral marketing campaign has fired its first salvo in the form of a rather appropriate puzzle. You can take a stab at it by going to seekthesix.com. It's actually quite a clever puzzle and no small bit of fun to unravel; I'll resist the impulse to document pictures of it at this time in order to allow anyone who wants to the fun of figuring it out for themselves. You will need Flash to play.

At the end you're invited to submit your email address and are assigned an (apparently) randomly-generated six-digit (oh hey!) number. Mine was 579528, which is a little offputting; if anything, I look more a 197291.

On AMC's blog keeping us up-to-date about their version, we learn that significant roles have been cast (they also punch the fan-service ticket with an 8-image gallery (on pic that belongs to Change of Mind miscredited to the episode A, B, & C) and a 10-question trivia quiz). The new face of Number 6 is to be Jim Caviezel; Ian McKellen is to be Number 2 (just the one Number 2?); and Lennie James, who famously portrayed the engimatic Robert Hawkins from the sadly ill-starred CBS series Jericho will play Number 147.

I have mixed feelings about it. I'll admit, after what I saw of AMC's reinterpreted Andromeda Strain and reading the review which came out to a nearly-unanimous "meh", I felt vindicated in my prejudging of the effort as a mostly-failed effort to follow the act of the original. And I feel that, just because the version of New we're being given by film producers these days is essentally Retreaded Old, that doesn't mean that what they do try shouldn't be well done.

I hope they approached "reinterpreting" (this word is fraught with peril) TP with the proper amount of thought and caution. Because, when you get right down to it, TP was pretty much done right the first time. Certainly, the series is a product of its time; the video technique seems dated and charming, but the message ... what you feel it is ... is evergreen. And the rendering is so very artistically unique that it is at once a moment of classic TV captured in amber as well as being timeless.

Above all, The Prisoner was a result of a lot of unique circumstances (the Portmeirion resort, the '60s secret-agent craze, cold war paranoia) coming together with and about one man and the people who worked with him (Patrick McGoohan's singular personality and POV gave the series its spark of life). It will be far too easy to apply a modern, fashionable gloss to it all ... which is what de-souled the latter-day Andromeda Strain.

I fear a Prisoner that looks done-by-committee.

And besides, commentary on surveillance paranoia these days seems to be .... well, redundant.

We keep our eyes on the horizon for this production with high hopes – and low expectations. To quote Madame Engadine from A, B, & C, "This will end in tears".

Of course, Number 6 replies to this with "All the best parties do". So we have that working for us.

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SmokyBanjo said...

Haha ha TP.......sorry....

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Ain't no sin, sb. With the amount of groanariffic humor I've generated over the years, I should be the one to talk!