Early on in my life my dad got me hooked on strange 1960s British TV shows, he began with The Avengers, followed by Doctor Who, and then The Prisoner. I’ve loved every show, and The Prisoner I found to be the most compelling and interesting of the trio. Not to mention the strangest.
After a special agent (played by Patrick McGoohan) resigns, he returns to his flat to pack and leave for what seems to be a place of sandy beaches and palm trees, but just as he is about to leave, his flat fills with gas, and he is knocked out. He awakens in a place that looks just like his apartment back in London, but it’s not, instead he has been taken to The Village. Everyone in the Village is given a number, and his is Number 6, in charge is Number 2, who says they only wish to know why 6 resigned, but 6 refuses to tell why. The entire show (17 episodes in all) is a twisted series of 6 trying to escape (sometimes resulting in being chased by giant weather balloons known as Rovers) and the heads of the Village trying to discover why 6 resigned. The ending of the show was disappointing to most, however, it did not dissipate their love for the show. With its Mediterranean architecture and mod interiors, not to mention the ship sculpture/play structure and the human chess board, The Village is an interesting mix and makes The Prisoner compelling to watch for its visuals just as much as its bizarre storyline.
Some felt that The Prisoner was a continuation of McGoohan’s previous show Danger Man, however that has never been confirmed. The Prisoner was very much the brainchild of McGoohan, who wrote, directed, and produced so many episodes, that he had several different pseudonyms for such roles.
For the past 40-plus years, The Prisoner has remained off the radar to the mainstream, though it has popped up here and there, such as an Iron Maiden song, and an episode of The Simpsons. But finally, The Prisoner has come into the spotlight, because tonight, AMC presents their “re-imagining” of The Prisoner. This version stars Hollywood Brit fave Ian McKellen as Number 2 and James Caviezel as Number 6. The two stars square off in the middle of the desert in this new three part mini-series, and I just can’t wait to see how it’s going to end! Since the original ended so strangely, and resulted in endless philosophies about man worshiping war, or that we are all our worst enemy, it will be interesting to see if this version takes the ending in an entirely new direction or not.
If you want to check out the original, which I highly recommend, it’s available in several mediums, first off, AMC has it up on their website, it’s also available via Comcast’s On Demand, and, of course, DVD, where you’ll pay a pretty penny.
I’ll be updating tomorrow, hopefully, with my initial reaction to this new take.