Wednesday, November 18, 2009

...and Out Again

For those of you who might be planning to watch the AMC version of "The Prisoner," consider this a Spoiler Warning. While I don't know if they are planning to run it again in the near future, last night's finale included an announcement that you can advance-order it from Amazon for delivery in March of next year. My advice: Don't bother.

Though this hodge-podge included bits and pieces of the original -- people saying "Be seeing you," Rover the bouncing balloon, the shopkeeper providing maps of the Village -- and the episodes could claim to be "inspired" by ones from the McGoohan series, it was no more "The Prisoner" than I am an Olympic volleyball player.

From the beginning, I felt that there was far too much focus on Number 2 (or just "2" since this version opted to drop the "Number" from the names), his comatose wife, and his son. In the original, each episode had a new Number 2, replacing another who had failed to break Number 6 and learn why he had resigned. It was obvious that whoever was running the Village did not tolerate failure. As it turned out, in the new version there was an important reason for all the emphasis on "2" and Mrs. "2" because the Village existed in her head.

Remember "St. Elsewhere"? The series ended its run revealing that everything had been a fantasy in the head of an autistic child. Presumably, no one knew about it but the boy. With the exception of his father and grandfather, who he recast as doctors in his "movie of the mind," the rest of the characters did not exist.

In "The Prisoner," however, all the people in the Village are somehow transported inside the dream world of Mrs. "2" and, based on what we see of "6," are existing in both places at the same time. It is not clear, however, where they physically are in our world while leading their idyllic lives in the Village.

Unlike Patrick McGoohan's Number 6, a secret agent who quits being a spy, this "6" resigns from a job in some kind of "Big Brother is Watching" operation. And rather than wanting to know why he resigned, the goal of "2" seems to be to lure "6" back so he can be in charge of the operation after the Village is moved into the mind of his new-found girlfriend.

Which, by the way, he succeeds in doing. So, unlike the original, this version is a number and is not a free man!

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