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Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner" 
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Post Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
I understand that reviewing a work that’s not yet been released can be risky with this crowd.

Nevertheless… “I must speak out.” For anyone who missed it, the original 17-episode TV series “The Prisoner,” first aired in 1967, remains the most radical statement of individualism that ever hit TV. By head-and-shoulders, country mile. Think of an angry Prof. de la Paz. Think of any Heinlein alpha-type, constrained by law, regulation, custom.

AMC has “re-imagined” the series, and will show the result as a mini-series later this month. At first, I allowed myself to get cautiously optimistic. Then I saw this interview with the new series’ writer, on the I09 web site:
Quote:
McGoohan's piece was based upon the assertion of the individual, and I allowed myself to look at it in the polar opposite way. What happens if the cult of the individual is allowed to run? We're all obsessed with self, we're all obsessed with more, and now, and me, and gimme... and what happens if that's affected us, and what if that kind of world, what are the consequences of that? McGoohan says, 'Look. We live in a world which is authoritarian, and we've got to break it.' What if we live in a society now that's selfish and dangerous?

Now there's a dangerous vision. Such radicalism! [/sarcasm]

McGoohan’s barely in the grave, and they’re desecrating his masterpiece. The parallel to Verhooven’s ST…
I hope that I’m wrong. I doubt it.

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Last edited by FredReynolds on Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:01 pm
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner
Yep, I couldn't agree more.

McGoohan was showing how a free man cannot be enslaved, only imprisoned (shades of Howard Roark). How he could choose to be master of himself even when he was restrained to the point of his body being tortured (shades of Viktor Frankl). His captors even distorted his mind and he still defeated them, showing that ultimately we can only be enslaved by ourselves.

ABC is demonstrating that they haven't enough original thought or courage left in their creative staff to come up with something new, rather than gutting a classic for the sake of mining its fan base.


Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:35 pm
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner
Uh. Talk about Playskool sledge hammers. As much as I carry a sneaking torch for the original, it was pretentious, overbearing blather. Especially in the last few episodes when McGoohan got complete control and flew the concept right off a cliff.

I'm looking forward to the AMC take because Ian McKellen has such a great hat. :D

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Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:05 pm
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
Well, I'm completely flummoxed. Supposedly we're supposed to get two one-hour episodes a night for three nights. With no explanation that I can find, only the first ep ran tonight (at least on Dish Network). The AMC web site still says two, but the summary and recap of the second episode are not yet active. This is very weird - and if it turns out to be some kind of deliberate mindf*ck by AMC I will be very pissed.

Anyone have a clue? Did they decide to stretch it out over six nights instead to squeeze in yet more ads? (I haven't watched anything in realtime for a long time and the commercial load on this program seems longer than the material...)

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Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:16 pm
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
It's airing several times on AMC Canada. I was about to Tivo it when I read a review that changed my mind - if someone hates a show then there was at least something going on that I might like, but if it was deadly boring, odds are they're right.

Incidentally, I just watched Caprica and man was that a snoozer. There was about 30 minutes of stuff worth watching and the rest was filler. It should have been the B story in an episode.


Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:23 am
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
Well, last night was one of those "nothing better to do" spacers - so ably captured by Douglas Adams, IIRC - so we tuned up what turned out to be the last 40 minutes* of the second episode.

I understand that having inexplicably missed the first episode and the first few minutes of the second would promote some confusion, but the odd, hyperkinetic editing did not help. We jump from yet-another-strange-revelation-in-the-desert to a face-to-face confrontation with someone back in the Village, several times. There's no sense of time or travel, not even having a character turn his/her back and start off in a direction to indicate change of setting; just alla sudden they're talking to someone back in what passes for civilization, one hard cut after staring at a desert apparition.

I suppose this has some arty value in emphasizing the small scale of the world or strangeness or cleverness of the director, but in the end it's just irritating. I suppose we'll make some attempt to catch up and watch most of this thing, but it will be more out of boredom and duty than genuine interest.

*That's 40m by the clock, which meant about 22m of actual Prisoner and 18m of gawdawful commercials.

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Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:04 am
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
Another programme that we will no doubt get soon - telling us what a huge smash it is in the USA.

Have they "Americanised" it? As we over here consider The Prisoner to be classically British, and I am afraid that your TV companies will rather kill off its style! Another remake I think I will avoid!


Fri Nov 27, 2009 2:21 pm
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
KeithJones923 wrote:
Another programme that we will no doubt get soon - telling us what a huge smash it is in the USA.

Have they "Americanised" it? As we over here consider The Prisoner to be classically British, and I am afraid that your TV companies will rather kill off its style! Another remake I think I will avoid!

That's a very interesting question. What would "Americanized" look like? I'd say it's less conspicuously British than the first series - but not particularly American in any way (except, of course, the Cavziel is not Danger Man). The American-British thing is somewhat confused by the fact that the original production company, ITC, was an American company and the series was produced for both American and British markets.

I only saw the first episode of this new version; it didn't attract me back. 6 kept doing the same things over and over without the sense McGoohan brought to the role of battening down and enduring, intelligently planning. So Cavziel's 6 was an individual without any of the thing that make a person individual?

I did have the sense that the writers were working with a bizarro-world version of McGoohan's original concept, and the quote from the writer upthread validates that. If he reflects a IRL that is dangerously individualized, well -- he just doesn't have any notion of what individualism is at all.

Unlike Jim I don't thnk the last two eps of the original series drove the series off a cliff; it seemed to me like an inevitably logical ending; the roots of the intense, layered allegory are scattered throughout the original seven eps -- which is somewhat obscured by having to come up with an additional ten episodes for American series tv, that worked only varyingly well. Interestingly one of the most off-the-track of the new episodes (the western hallucination) was folded into the original concept for the series finale -- though I'm not sure it really added anything to the argument of the trial scene. Still, it's a very conventional kind of expansion-by-repetition you'd expect to see when a 44 minute episode is expanded into two.


Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:37 am
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
Bill, sometimes shit is just shit, no matter how much allegory you want to analyze into it. :D

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Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:39 am
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
When I first saw the final episode (of the original) I was a bit disappointed for reasons that could be described in the same terms as Jim's colorful language. But upon reflection, it makes sense - I don't mean that the episode itself makes sense, I mean it makes sense why McGoohan did it that way. The overweening desire is for the final episode to wrap up the series into a neat little bundle of closed subplots tied up with a bow of All Questions Answered. But that would have defeated the show's purpose - think for yourselves, you lazy bastards - so that final episode had to leave the viewer with mostly questions. As tempting as it is to give the masses their pablum of answers, when I think about it, works that force people to think are the ones that get more lasting attention.


Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:09 pm
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