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The Prisoner is a 2009 television miniseries based on the 1967-68 British television series The Prisoner. The series concerned a man who awakens in a mysterious, picturesque, but escape-proof village. It was co-produced by American cable network AMC with British channel ITV, maker of the original series.

The Prisoner, a reinterpretation of the 1967 British cult classic, follows Michael, who after resigning from his job finds himself inexplicably trapped in The Village, a town where people have numbers instead of names. Michael (now called "Six") struggles to hold on to his identity as he engages in a battle of wits with The Village leader, Two.

Plot overview

The series begins with an unidentified man waking up in a desert and finding himself in the middle of a pursuit as mysterious guards chase an elderly man through a canyon. The old man dies soon after, but not before passing a message on to the younger man: "Tell them I got out."

The man arrives in an enigmatic community, whose residents inform him that it's called simply The Village. Everyone he meets is known only by a number—he learns his number is 6—and he discovers that they have no knowledge or memory of the outside world.

6 is unable to remember his real name, and recalls only snippets of his life in New York City. He had met and seduced a mysterious woman in a diner. He finds himself locked in a battle of wills against 2, the Village's leader, who goes to great lengths to make 6 assimilate. 6, meanwhile, tries to contact "dreamers"—Village residents who, like himself, have been experiencing flashes of memory of their life outside the Village. Along the way, he befriends 147, a Village taxi driver; 313, a doctor with whom 6 develops a romantic connection, but who has her own secrets; and "11–12", 2's son, who begins to question the reality of the Village.

Background

A remake had been in the works since 2005.[3] The miniseries was promoted at 2008 San Diego ComicCon via a skywriter airplane that sketched the phrase "Seek the Six" on the sky over San Diego. Although "Seek the Six" was initially thought to be a catchphrase of some sort, it did not appear in the final cut. A further promotional event for the miniseries was held at the 2009 ComicCon, including a spoiler-heavy, 9-minute trailer and a cast and crew discussion panel.[4]

The series premiered on November 15, 2009[5] as a miniseries on North American cable channel AMC in cooperation with British broadcaster ITV.[6][7] The six part series premiered in the UK on April 17, 2010. AMC streamed all 17 episodes of the original Prisoner series in advance of showing the remake.[8] AMC's original airing of the series combined the episodes, with episodes 1 and 2 airing on day 1, etc., with only one set of opening and closing credits for both. ITV broadcast the episodes individually, over six consecutive Saturday nights in the spring of 2010. The DVD release restores the 6-episode format.

Cast

Main cast

Guests

Episodes

  1. "Arrival"
  2. "Harmony"
  3. "Anvil"
  4. "Darling"
  5. "Schizoid"
  6. "Checkmate"

The series also spanned an exlusive online Graphic Novel taking place after the final episode events: "As the Air, Invulnerable"

Production

Filming on location, The Prisoner 2009

Filming on location in Namibia.

The Prisoner went into production in June 2008. Location filming for The Village was in Swakopmund, Namibia. A production diary is available.[9] After 18 weeks of shooting, principal photography wrapped on December 12, 2008.[10]

According to Patrick McGoohan's widow, producers of the new series had hoped that McGoohan would play a part in the revival. "They wanted Patrick to have some part in it, but he adamantly didn't want to be involved. He had already done it," she said in an interview shortly after McGoohan's death.[11] This was contradicted by Ian McKellen in an interview featured in the November 2009 edition of SFX Magazine where he was quoted as saying:

""He was asked to be in the first episode, there being a part that would have been very ironically fitting, but apparently he said that he didn't want to do it unless he was offered the part of Number Two.""
― Ian McKellen.[src]

Producer Trevor Hopkins confirmed in an interview that he had invited McGoohan to play the role of the Number Six-like old man encountered by Caviezel's character early in the first episode. This is suggested by the jacket worn by the old man – the same style jacket as worn by number Six in the first series. McGoohan declined, but suggested he could play Number 2 instead.[4]

Critical reception

The miniseries met with mixed reviews, scoring 46 out of 100 on Metacritic.[12] Los Angeles Times television critic Robert Lloyd wrote "why anyone, on either side of the screen, should be particularly interested in his fate, is never made clear nor compelling," and further states "the payoff is weak, and more than a bit daffy." In a comparison with the miniseries to AMC's hit series Mad Men, he writes "the difference [is] that 'Mad Men' is never boring."[13] In Entertainment Weekly, TV critic Ken Tucker writes "it lacks the wit and zip of the original Prisoner," and concludes "It's self-absorbed to the point of incoherence."[14] Chicago Sun-Times reviewer Paige Wiser declares "There's also a reason why I am not conking myself on the head with a croquet mallet, but The Prisoner somehow has the same effect," and with reference to viewing all six hours of the miniseries, concludes "I urge you to heed my advice: Opt out while you can."[15] San Francisco Chronicle critic Tim Goodman writes "The Prisoner is not compelling. It rambles too much. Its vagaries are not interesting, its unorthodox storytelling not special enough."[16]

New York Times reviewer Alessandra Stanley struck a contrary note: "This version of The Prisoner is not a remake, it's a clever and engaging reinterpretation by Bill Gallagher, who shaped the script to contemporary tastes and sensibilities — notably, a postmodern fatigue with ideology and big thoughts." She concludes "The 21st century adaptation pays only lip service to the human condition, and instead explores a power struggle between two human beings. It's unlikely to prove as lasting, but the new series still manages to be thrilling."[17] Furthermore, it was positively reviewed in the Radio Times and also by Sam Wallaston who writing for The Guardian, described it as "a triumph with something of The Truman Show about it" with "a tension and a claustrophobia that gnaw away at you, making you look at your own psyche."[18]

Episodes

Main article: List of The Prisoner episodes

The miniseries is comprised on six episodes with each episode title derived from one word taken from an episode title in the original 1960s series.

Awards and Nominations

Awarding body Nominations
Satellite Award
  • Best Miniseries (nominated)
  • Best Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television: Ian McKellen (nominated)
PGA Awards
  • Television Producer of the Year in Longform: Michele Buck, Damien Timmer, Rebecca Keane, and Trevor Hopkins (nominated)
Emmy Awards
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Ian McKellen (nominated)
  • Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Movie: Florian Hoffmeister for the episode "Checkmate" (nominated)
Art Directors Guild
  • Excellence In Production Design Award: Michael Pickwoad, Claudio Campana, Delarey Wagenar, Emilia Roux, and Delia de Villiers Minnaar (nominated)
Saturn Award
  • Best Presentation on Television (nominated)

DVD release

In early 2010, Warner Home Video released The Prisoner in DVD format in Region 1/North America in a 3-disc collection.

Special features included deleted scenes for all episodes (including scenes from "Arrival" that explicitly indicate that 2 orders the bombing of the diner), and commentaries on "Arrival" and "Checkmate".

Featurettes in the set include:

  • "A 6 Hour Film Shot in 92 Days: The Diary of the Prisoner" – behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the series, featuring footage previously available online.
  • "Beautiful Prison: The World of the Prisoner" – a second behind-the-scenes documentary.
  • "The Prisoner ComicCon Panel" – Jim Caviezel, Lennie James, Bill Gallagher, and others discuss the then-upcoming series at the 2009 San Diego ComiCon.
  • "The Man Behind 2" – Jamie Campbell Bower conducts a tongue-in-cheek interview with his TV father, Ian McKellen.

ITV Studios Home Entertainment released a UK DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 3 May 2010.[19] The listed extras include the deleted scenes, ComicCon panel and McKellen interview, but differ otherwise. They include:

  • "The Making of" for all six episodes
  • "Inside The Prisoner" for all six episodes
  • The Prisoner Read Through
  • Character Profiles

References

  1. AMC » the prisoner about this website. Amctv.com. Retrieved on 2009-10-20.
  2. AMC » the prisoner about the show. Amctv.com. Retrieved on 2009-10-20.
  3. It was announced in late 2005 that Granada would revive the series for Sky1 in 2007. BBC News: Remake for cult show The Prisoner Christopher Eccleston was initially rumoured to be considered for the title role and it was reported that the series would be titled Number Six instead of The Prisoner. Abortive remake plans actually pre-date 2005, with Simon West at one point in the early 2000s (decade) reported as directing a theatrical version. Patrick McGoohan himself had mulled over plans for a remake as early as the 1970s.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "ComicCon Panel" special feature, included on the 2010 DVD release of the series by Warner Home Video.
  5. AMC—Blogs—The Prisoner—Newsflash! The Prisoner Miniseries to Premiere Sun., Nov. 15. Blogs.amctv.com (2009-09-29). Retrieved on 2009-10-20.
  6. In December 2006, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the American cable TV channel AMC was co-producing The Prisoner with Sky1, and that it would run at least six to eight episodes, beginning in January 2008 (both in the UK and USA).ICv2 News — AMC Remaking 'The Prisoner'
  7. In May 2007 it was reported that Sky One had pulled out of the re-make due to a disagreement with AMC. In August 2007, Richard Woolfe, head of Sky One, stated: The Prisoner is not happening. It's a very quintessentially British drama and there were too many creative differences trying to share it with an American partner. I didn't want to be responsible for taking something that is quintessentially British and adapting it in a way that I didn't feel was reflective of the way people would remember it and the way people would want it to be. So we called time on that.Digital Spy: Q & A with Sky One head Richard Woolfe
  8. Revisit The Prisoner Online
  9. AMC—Blogs—The Prisoner. Blogs.amctv.com. Retrieved on 2009-10-20.
  10. Production Diary Week 18—That's a Wrap!. AMC (2008-12-12). Retrieved on 2008-12-26.
  11. Palisade interview with McGoohan widow
  12. The Prisoner - Season 1 Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2014-10-14.
  13. The Los Angeles Times, "The Prisoner: The AMC remake of the cult classic '60s British spy-fi series won't hold viewers captive," by Robert Lloyd (November 14, 2009—retrieved on November 18, 2009).
  14. Entertainment Weekly, "The Prisoner (2009–2009)," by Ken Tucker (November 11, 2009—retrieved on November 18, 2009).
  15. The Chicago Sun-Times, "The TV Paige: AMC's 'The Prisoner' remake," by Paige Wiser (November 14, 2009—retrieved on November 18, 2009).
  16. The San Francisco Chronicle, "TV review: Prisoner remake captive of past," by Tim Goodman (November 13, 2009—retrieved on November 18, 2009).
  17. Alessandra Stanley (November 12, 2009) "Rethinking of a Number Between 1 and 10", The New York Times. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  18. [1] (April 25, 2010-retrieved on November 12, 2010).
  19. The Prisoner (2010) (R2/UK BD) in May. Home Cinema @ The Digital Fix. Retrieved on 2010-04-25.

External links

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