Saturday, November 14, 2009

Watchin' TV: The Prisoner (Remake)

I don't mind admitting that my knowledge of the classic British television oddity The Prisoner began and ended with the Iron Maiden song until recently. I mean, sure I'm a pretentious Euro- and Anglophile, but this shit was way before my time, you know? But anyway, between Iron Maiden's tune and the always wonderful Ian McKellan's involvement with AMC's about-to-be-aired miniseries remake (or re-imagining as it is trendy to call these things), count me curious. I've checked out a few episodes of the original series (available free On Demand now, fellow Comcast customers), because I feel like it would be kind of intellectually lazy and a disservice to myself to go into it cold.

Unfortunately, as I've just been reading, remake star (the new Number Six) Jim Caviezel doesn't see it that way. He admitted to sci-fi blog io9 in a recent interview that not only had he never seen the original series prior to his involvement with the remake, but that he didn't think it was worth investigating subsequently to inform his performance. This is such a pretentious stance - the desire to be original and unique trumps the value of allowing the source material to influence your reinterpretation of it? And yes, I appreciate the irony, given that the role itself is about insisting on one's individuality and free will, but it's very silly to imagine that a remake stands alone from its source, or even that it should. And especially egregious in this instance, where the original performance in question involved an actor-writer-creator, Patrick McGoohan, whose personal vision pretty much defined the original series. [See Jim? It only take a cursory bit of preparation to sound like you know what your talking about.]

Much of the audience for the remake will probably be fans of the original Prisoner, and many will be curious culture snobs like myself who took it upon themselves to do their homework in advance of this TV watching event. This segment will appreciate nods in the remake to the original, layers of meaning that can only stand to enrich the program. Too bad Caviezel's contribution will be devoid of such complexity.

At least we can count on Ian McKellan to have correct acting values:

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