A New Yorker awakens to find himself in a place called The Village run by a man known as Two. As everyone in The Village is referred to only by a number, everyone in The Village refers to him as Six - despite he himself knowing that he has another name - and seems to know who he is. He is told he lives in The Village and that The Village is the only reality there is. Six's mission becomes to find out where The Village is, who Two is and why he is seemingly keeping him prisoner in The Village (despite Two stating that Six is a free man), and how he can escape to his life back in New York. Six has to learn who among the Villagers he can trust - who include a doctor named 313, a cab driver named 147, and Two's own son named 11-12 - in his quest to escape from The Village. Six also has recurring memories of his life in New York, including an encounter with a woman named Lucy, which may be part of the key to discovering why he's in The Village. Written by
A man resigns from a mysterious agency. Soon, he finds himself in a place known only as "the Village" where nobody has a name but is a number where he's re-dubbed Six by its leader a man known only as Two. Resisting Two's attempts to break his mind with his insistence "I am not a number, I am a free man," Six begins trying to escape while trying to piece together what and where the Village really is. That, in short, is the premise of the six episode miniseries re-imaging of the classic 1967 Patrick McGoohan TV series The Prisoner. The Prisoner is an intriguing psychological thriller with sci-fi overtones.
The miniseries is anchored by a fine cast. Jim Caviezal plays Six, a man lost in a strange world and always on his guard against everyone and everything around him, who is a radically different character from the McGoohan version. His foe is Sir Ian McKellen as Two, the Big Brother like leader who seems benevolent yet is in fact a manipulative and cunning man who brings to mind memories of Leo Mckern in the original series. The villagers include Two's son 11-12 (Jamie Campbell Bower), the beautiful but mysterious doctor 313 (Ruth Wilson) and 4-15 (Hayley Atwell) who has some connection to Six's old life. Together they bring to life the assorted characters who occupy the Village.
By definition, this is a re-imaging of the original series. The biggest change being the focus is on the mind games between Six and Two, making this more of a psychological thriller then the original perhaps was. These include introducing the concept of the Village being the only thing in existence which does stretch creditability quite a bit. More successful are mind games such as in Harmony when Six is told he has brother for example. More successful perhaps is the setting for these mind games is an intriguing new version of the Village set in the middle of the desert. Like in the original, it is here that the sci-fi overtones to come in. With them the series explores issues such as electronic surveillance, mind control and the ability of an individual to resist conforming with society allowing for some intriguing social commentary along the way. Also intriguing is the clever playing with flashbacks to Six's previous life which are not be what they seem. Having said all that, things can be a bit too surreal and downright confusing at times so if you don't have a open mind and don't pick up clues as the miniseries goes on, things can (and will) be baffling. Overall, the re-imaging works splendidly.
There's homages to the original series as well. These include such things as the old man's costume at the beginning of episode one (the role was originally meant as a cameo for the late Patrick McGoohan) and the return of the mysterious balloon like guard Rover. Perhaps the biggest homage lie in the various episode titles which are all derived from original series including Arrival and Checkmate to name just two. This helps to remind the audience that, though this is at times a radical re-imagining of the series, the past hasn't been completely forgotten about.
By blending fine acting, mind games, an intriguing setting, homages to the original series, and clever playing with story-lines and ideas this version of The Prisoner becomes, while not a classic, an intriguing psychological thriller with sci-fi overtones. Are you interested? Then prepare to take a classic TV series in an intriguing new direction. But remember: "You only think you're free."
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