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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
History seems to be repeating itself with regards to 'The Prisoner'.
The original was condemned in 1967/68 as being too confusing, and the
remake has come in for a similar drubbing, mainly from fans of the
earlier version. I myself feel the new show is a lot better than it
could have been. The new 'Prisoner' production team and cast have not
expressed anything other than heartfelt respect for McGoohan's show. If
they had criticised it ( as the makers of the new B.B.C. 'Survivors'
show did in interviews when asked about Terry Nation's original ), I
would not have tuned in.
Episode 2 - 'Harmony' - bears no resemblance to the famous 'Living In Harmony' instalment. '6' ( Jim Caviezel ) is introduced to his brother - 16 ( Jeffrey R.Wright ) and his family, who are hooked on a mindless television soap opera. 6 is given a job as bus driver, taking Villagers on tours of the community. On one such trip, he finds an anchor in the desert, and concludes that the sea must be nearby. Indeed he has childhood memories of playing on a sun-kissed beach with his young brother. 6 used to be an analyst for some big corporation or other, and whose job it was to keep people under surveillance. Now he himself is being watched at all times. When 16's family wins a competition to visit a resort known ( ironically ) as Escape, he sees a golden opportunity to get away from the Village...
With the remake of 'Arrival' safely out of the way, the show is able to take on new plots. This one is quite good. The questioning of 6 is in keeping with those complex mind games seen in the original, and the Clinic once again is where Villagers are brainwashed. The Village itself represents the world, or at least the world as it could become.
McGoohan's '6's was not required to work, but here Caviezel's character is given a menial job. Nice idea. Strangely, so far, 6 has not seemed concerned as to the identity of Number 1. It was a major talking point of those following the original series.
Even when 16 admits he is not 6's brother, 6 offers to take him along when he next tries to escape. The sight of Rover rushing out of the sea is guaranteed to set the pulse racing. 16 is killed, but when 6 tries to tell his family, they sit staring at the television, laughing.
I can understand why some are displeased with the new show ( just as Russell T.Davies' 2005 'Dr.Who' revival upset a small but vocal group of followers ), but I like what I've seen so far, and am prepared to give it a chance. Besides, having reread recently the D.C. graphic novel 'Shattered Visage' ( which featured an elderly Number 6 duking it out with an equally elderly Number Two ), I'm pleased Bill Gallagher did not go down that particular road.
CODA...after this, 'The Prisoner' remake went downhill incredibly fast, becoming tediously unwatchable. The final episode left me thinking "So what?". It was sad to see the deterioration of a show which held so much promise at the start. What it really needed was a force of nature such as McGoohan behind it. Instead it gave the impression of having been put together by committee. Shame.
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