You are Number Six.
Who are you?
Not the new Number Two. Nor for that matter, the new Number Six.
The producers of AMC/ITV's renewal of The Prisoner had a tall order to fill: to reimagine and remake a television show so perfect in its strange mix of whimsy, paranoia, conspiracy, and adventure that over forty years after its debut, it is still ahead not just ahead of its time, but of our time.
Even shows like Twin Peaks, Lost, and Life On Mars, the programs that most nearly approach The Prisoner as ongoing mysteries meant to keep the audience guessing, didn't quite hit the mark of Patrick McGoohan's masterpiece. As for the producers of this "remake," well, they tried. And on the evidence of one episode, they've failed.
This is a Prisoner written by committee, full of pretty people and long stretches of … futility. Oh they've taken the cosmetics, the plot, and the ideas behind the original. They've sounded the notes, but they're not getting the music. Where the original show featured a parade of memorable character actors such as the wonderful Leo McKern, and a star who could have worked for Hitchcock, this version gives us a cast that could have come straight out of a toothpaste commercial, and a star memorable only for his ordinariness. James Caviezel, while certainly good looking enough, just isn't a big enough man to play the part of someone so extraordinary that a separate world would be set up to extract information from him, and to drive him insane.
If THEY wanted to get information from James Caviezel, they'd just have him mugged in some dark alley.
Even Ian McKellen, gamely trying his best to carry our interest as Number Two, can't carry the show on his back.
I feel like I'm watiching The Truman Show rather than The Prisoner. I suppose this cast and these writers might have made a … decent program given the freedom to make something their own, but the problem with reimagining perfection is that you've got to do it perfectly.
Update: For our friends Eddie and Ella:
I get more from the first minute of the first episode of the original than I got from last night's slogging abomination.