Taking no Prisoners

 Taking no Prisoners
Thanks for all the birthday wishes, everyone. It was a great day, with unseasonably warm weather such as we never remember in a pre-global warming world, so thank you greenhouse emissions! We took a total internet vacation for the weekend so are just now returning to this wonderful, fact-filled world.

We got about 45 minutes into the Prisoner remake before deciding it was completely misguided and had no idea what made the original compelling — namely mood, tone, storytelling, suspense, etc etc. Adi Tantimedh has a nice dissection of the rather muddled theme of the remake:

Why remake a popular story if you’re going to toss everything that people liked about the original under the bus? The catchphrase and key theme of the original show was Number Six’ weekly decree, “I am not a number, I am a free man!” In an interview in last week’s New York Times, the writer of the remake said he felt the need to modify that sentiment into something more, moderate, less individualist, more… community-minded.

So the credo of the remake is, “I am not a number, but I want to be a member of a nice community that gets along with each other!”


Still trying to figure that one out.

Anyway, back to the trenches. Keep those, links, tips, and inside info coming!

Comments

  1. The new version has missed on so many levels, and I walked in knowing that if it didn’t offer some new perspective, then the effort would be pointless…or, more accurately redundant.

    I want to see where it goes before pulling thoughts together about where it’s been.

    I haven’t quite parsed the new themes yet.

    Interesting thing to note, though: 93 was an old man 6 found in the desert. 93 wore Patrick McGoohan’s coat, and I just KNEW they would’ve liked to have cast McGoohan in that role. Inside joke here: 3 from 9 is 6.

    Halfway through, I said, “This is The Prisoner by way of Dark City.”

    The problem is that the confusion of Dark City was made clear, and was the point.

    Here, we’re with a guy whom we’re SURE is from our world, and like an episode of Mission: Impossible, the folks in the Village are working to make him believe there IS no other reality. As viewers, we’re already SURE of this; it’s not really been brought into real question to us, so we’re way ahead of 6. Makes him and the show seem lost.

    Today, while musing, I suddenly realized that this show has been plagued by the same expansion-itis as classic superhero origins.

    An eight-page Spider-Man origin becomes a four-issue miniseries.

    The set-up to the original Prisoner was so clear that it was handled in the lead-in titles, and a one-hour episode crystallizing the idea that he will always try to escape, and they MAY be one step ahead of him, when it comes to escaping, but NEVER when it comes to him admitting why he resigned.

    We’re two hours into the new show, and all we have are questions.

    I’m not sure making The Prisoner a mystery was a good approach, but we’ll come back to it when the miniseries is concluded.

    What I miss most right now: sharp writing.

    The new version’s writing is pedestrian.

    But I get to watch Ian McKellen do his thing, so I’m there to the end.

    –Lee

  2. peter bangs says:

    I’m suprised anyone conversant with the original even gave this a look. Everyone who supports these half arsed remakes of classic serials and movies and the less than classic ones too makes it harder for anyone with an original idea to get it made.

  3. But that’s just it. Commercially, remakes smell like a sure win for folks optioning properties. It’s a known quantity; it worked the first time; & those Gen X’ers are such suckers for anything that reminds them of something cool..(not saying Torrid, for example, hasn’t weaseled a fair amount of my disposable income on this very premise).

    Nostalgia is usually cheaper than taking a chance on something new.

    That said, I’m hearing from all corners that the new Prisoner just can’t hold a candle to the taut delights of the original. Some works can’t & shouldn’t be revisited.

    BTW Ms. Beat – now *that* photo is kickcass.

  4. Hooray for Heidi, boo PRISONER remake (word to the OP, M to the C to the Goohan!)

    A belated happy birthday! Glad to hear that not even those giant white balls could ruin it!*

    *No innuendo implied, that’s a PRISONER reference, people!

  5. I changed channels from Sunday Night Football to catch the Prisoner remake.

    It was so not worth it, and I’ve beating myself up ever since.

  6. I was really, really rooting for this to be great. Especially liked the opening idea of the protagonist rescuing a McGoohan-esque character. But..after the first ho-hum hour..i blushingly admit we flipped over to my guilty pleasure, Desperate Housewives.
    I know, I know. So sue me.

  7. Disappointing isn’t the word for the Prisoner remake. Where are the pervasive spy cameras? Where is the paranoia? The original Village was tiny–this one is big enough to have districts that a bus goes through . . . and yet it’s in a desert oasis! Everything from the set and clothing designs to the casting (aside from Sir Ian) to the writing to even the camera work and editing left me completely cold. Turned it off before the first hour was up. Ugh!

  8. Having ‘Jesus’ as No. 6 and ‘Magneto/Gandalf’ as No.2 did have some meta-creative universes appeal— but I think they should’ve adopted Dean Motter’s Shattered Visage instead.

    Gonna watch it, if just to see what the updated Village’s Saharan setting, the New Yorker Prisoner, and the WTC-implicit Towers will add up to… if anything.

  9. Ultimately, the only cool thing about this PRISONER remake (and perhaps Jackie Estrada will agree?) might have been one heck of a promotional booth at Comic-Con International.

    It was neat to see all of the people working the booth dressed in their best No. 2/No. 6 black blazers and sneakers. A comic book “prequel” to the AMC miniseries was handed out, and I got a nifty Village ID card. (I am prisoner # 86-06. But I am not a number, I am a FREE MAN!!!!!!)

    Perhaps that, and not the miniseries, was the greatest tribute to the original PRISONER series!

  10. I must say it is absolutely hilarious to read all these comments bashing the new “Prisoner,” complete with all of the “the old one was way better, why remake it?” huffing and puffing. Especially on a comic and pop culture blog. I know I can’t walk more than 2 steps into any comic book shop, or flip through more than 2 channels on my TV, without running into a breathlessly overhyped G.I. Joe / Transformers / Micronauts / A-Team / Starsky & Hutch / Dukes of Hazzard / V / Battlestar Galactica / He-Man / Thundercats / Space Ghost / Speed Racer / Astro Boy etc. etc. relaunch or remake or reimagining or some such nonsense.

  11. “Who’s #1?” Not even asked. The only thing I was hoping for was at least a catchy soundtrack. Nope.

    I admit I did let out a slight squeal when the big white bubble showed up, however.

  12. Now, I’ve only seen two episodes of the original series (the one where he escapes to London, the one which seems like the Twilight Zone crossed with The Fantastiks), but aren’t those big white balls *SNICKER* called “Rover”?

    Also, I haven’t seen the entire original series (will watch it in one sitting, most likely), but I suspect that there’s a comma in “You are number six”. Or maybe it’s Rover, or the Smoke Monster.

    That said… what do you all think of the “motion comic”?
    http://www.amctv.com/originals/the-prisoner/graphic-novel/

  13. Synsidar says:

    It might be that the people remaking The Prisoner wanted to make a political statement differing from the one they saw in the original: Man wants to be free, wants to be an individual. In a political context, they might have considered that Libertarianism.

    SRS

  14. Yes, Michael the Prisoner stuff at the Con was cool. I got a great button: “I am not a number.” Interestingly, the black-and-white-clad guy handing it to me couldn’t tell me how to pronounce “Caviezel.”

  15. Welcome back, Heidi!

    As for the Prisoner, io9 has a nice bulleted summary of 6 things that they did wrong: http://io9.com/5405187/6-things-the-new-prisoner-changed-for-the-worse?skyline=true&s=i

    I admit, I decided to wait for the Internet reaction before watching it. Sounds like I done did OK by doing so.

  16. Two episodes down; one to go (tonight).

    I was actually open to this new version; the original was so closely tied to the anti-establishment vibe of the ’60s that I just don’t think it would resonate the same way if they kept it.

    I don’t even want to get into the “better” thing (though I recognize others are bound to).

    Adapting the original Battlestar Galactica into something new: nowhere to go but up.

    Adapting the original Prisoner into something new: harder even than getting the first Harry Potter film “right” for its pre-sold audience.

    I wonder if making it one long story (with episodic middles) was the right call; perhaps it would be more cohesive if the different new ideas were pursued without all the interweaving that muddles it.

    I thought the holes in the ground were an interesting Village trait; the end with the women leaping into it was poignant…and surprising. It was the first real “story” I could hold onto without wondering what it was about.

    The first episode seemed to have a familial theme. The next one was about love. It’s obvious 2 is using these to gain control over 6…

    …but does ANYBODY yet know what 2 actually WANTS from 6?

    There’s no “why did you resign?” discussion (except in 6’s flashback, though I did miss the first ten minutes from last night, so maybe I missed it from 2).

    2 seems to need 6 to settle down in the Village, but I’m lost about what else he hopes to gain.

    Okay, we know 6 had a job that assesses population trends, and he’s pretty cynical about where it’s going, but there are too many questions piled up right now.

    LOST is great at posing questions, teasing with answers, keeping you grounded about what characters are striving for and why…

    …and, thus far, THIS is what’s missing from this show, whether it’s called The Prisoner or Man In the Land With Holes.

    –Lee

  17. I’ll say so far about this remake:

    “Wow” NOT being the operative word here.

    It’s fucking ridiculous.

    However I’m seeing Stephen King’s Dark Tower images in my head everytime Rover blocks Jimmy Jesus’ path to the towers.

    ~

    Coat

  18. Okay, done.

    Sometimes the filmmakers care/try to be faithful to the source material, and sometimes they decide to keep what they want and toss the rest into the refuse pile.

    This was the second of those directions.

    We can often gage intent by the ending, and had this story NOT had characters with numbered names, (something that had no point in THIS version of the story anyway), and had it NOT used the term the “village,” then it could’ve been named something completely different and we might never have known.

    Initially, I referred to this as The Prisoner meets Dark City.

    Actually, it’s The Prisoner meets The Matrix.

    All this to find out that the answer to the puzzle is the oldest cliché in the books–it’s all a dream–is a cheat of the highest order.

    That it remains a fuzzy, unclear story simply makes it worse.

    That so many unsolved questions can be answered by “it’s all a dream” just piles worse on worse.

    The character arc goal here was to take a loner, make him part of a group, make him a leader, then make him a visionary for that group. Not a bad character arc, but one that completely undercuts McGoohan’s original vision.

    Whether intentionally or not, this version was conceived as an Anti-Prisoner, showing somebody’s cynical distain for the source material and making it an argument against the first version.

    The creators should’ve shown more creative integrity and just tried to sell their version without soiling the Prisoner brand.

    “Then it would never get made,” the filmmakers would reply.

    “Good,” would have been my reply to that.

    –Lee

  19. MATT KISH:I don’t think many people will argue your point. I sure as hell don’t care for nostalgia-exploiting remakes (in comics as well as movies), and I’m sure many would prefer good, original and new endeavors over remakes and reboots (like yet another lame redo of MOON KNIGHT or DEATHLOK THE DEMOLISHER that will never match the original series). Too many bad remakes to list here, but Tim Burton’s reimagining of PLANET OF THE APES and a creatively hollow GET SMART movie come to mind.

    PRISONER is so singular to McGoohan, I’m not sure why or how anyone would think it would be a good idea to try and do a new version of it. It’s like remaking a Billy Wilder or Alfred Hitchcock film: why bother? If they’re going to remake stuff, I much prefer when they turn something inherently lousy or lackluster into something great, such as BSG. But that is mega-rare, and for every 1 excellent remake, you get like 99 misfires and duds.

    JACKIE: I must admit, I can’t pronounce “Caviezel” either. Maybe I should be wearing a black blazer and sneakers.

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