Sunday, 18 April 2010

The New Number Six

The Prisoner remake
Airdate: April 17th 2010. UK. ITV

The sixties TV show, The Prisoner, was and always has been my favourite TV show. So I’m not the best person in the world to give this new incarnation a fair shake of the stick. Just so you know.

This new show gives us a “version” of the old Number Six in the same old blazer in the form of a short lived character made up to look like an old Patrick McGoohan called Number 93. His living quarters in the new show are almost identical as the old Number Six living quarters... right down to the wax lamps.

But this is a new Prisoner show for a new, dumbed down era. Jim Caviezel seems a fine actor but, as the new Number Six, he can’t hold a candle to the original. This is not his fault. He’s playing him in a sensitive manner... but McGoohan had a dangerous, aggressive and also charming edge to his portrayal. Caviezel seems to want to be playing it touchy-feely... probably at the insistence of the producers.

Ian MacKellan is an excellent choice for the new Number Two... just isn’t allowed to really get away with doing a good job within the confines of this new version of the show. Would have done it well in the sixties I suspect.

Most of the famous iconography of the original show has not been tapped for this version... that means no penny farthings, no mini-mokes, no blazers, no beach, no stone boat, no blaring fanfare on the “announcements” and no crashing, slamming prison doors at the end of the episode. A half hearted attempt has been made to replace the penny farthing with some kind of hand logo... but it’s not really working. A couple of the scenes were inspired directly from the first episode of the original it seems to me. Dialogue is a close match as far as I can remember.

This show has excellent acting. It has good, clean, simple and colourful design and cinematography. It has excellent music (although no match to the strident tones of the original show but it is "of it’s time" I guess). Unfortunately... on the strength of this first episode, the show never rises to being more than the sum of it’s part and is, therefore, not honouring the legacy of the past.

It fails but at least it fails in an interesting manner. Worth a watch but fans of the original show are hereby given clear warning that this new one will seem very bland in comparison.

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