The Prisoner set for Sunday release
Rehash promises 'reimagining of themes and characters'
The remake of classic 1960s Brit TV series The Prisoner will hit US screens on Sunday, when viewers of AMC will be able to enjoy writer Bill Gallagher's six-part "reimagining of themes and characters", as the New York Times ominously puts it.
Jim Caviezel has the task of interpreting Number Six, with veteran Brit thesp Ian McKellen tackling the role of Number Two.
Fans of The Prisoner will doubtless wonder just how much of a "reimagining" Gallagher's effort is. He said: "The challenge of doing this show was to pay homage and yet be different."
In order to "tease the audience with the relationship between the two pieces and keep anchoring back into the original", Gallagher has retained some of the show's famous phrases - "Be seeing you" and "Local destinations only" - although whether Caviezel will bellow “I am not a number, I am a free man!” remains to be seen.
Caviezel will also meet the Rovers - the rather silly overinflated white balloons which proved so bothersome for Patrick McGoohan - but apart from that it's apparently all change.
For starters, the village has been relocated to Swakopmund, "a Bavarian-style resort in Namibia that is surrounded by desert and has an eerily striking collection of pastel A-frame cottages".
Number Six now works for "giant data-gathering corporation" Summakor* and, since he's an American and therefore a little less "straight-laced" than McGoohan, manages to become the "fulcrum of a love triangle" involving Number 313, a doctor played by Ruth Wilson.
McKellen's Number Two, meanwhile, is a single, fully-developed character throughout the series, rather than the original's various interpretations by different actors which represented the "embodiment of nameless bureaucratic evil".
That actor noted he “wouldn’t have wanted to play the original, because it would just be playing a caricature, an idea, a symbol", but that "here I felt I was playing a real person who had just as many personal problems as Number Six".
As for the ending of the reimagining, it won't leave viewers dangling or perplexed as The Prisoner did in 1968, because Gallagher "not only ties things up in the final hour of the new version, but also does it in a way that appears to reaffirm the importance of community".
Those of you who are getting that sinking feeling should look to Caviezel for assurance. He insisted: “I feel this project stands on its own. There’s a huge allegorical piece in the background, but there’s a lot of eye candy as well. It’s definitely a commentary on right here and right now.” ®
* The Summakor website is here, and it's a good piece of work. Try entering "Number 2" in the search box and checking the first result. Now, you'll just need to work out the key word...