In ‘Prisoner,’ Twisted Whimsy Flirts With New Fears

From NPR:

At the height of the Cold War, British actor Patrick McGoohan conceived a television series that was so subversive and enigmatic, it lasted just 17 episodes.

The program was called The Prisoner.

For decades, filmmakers and actors including Mel Gibson have wanted to remake the series. AMC has finally done it, but if you’re expecting a faithful re-creation of the British series, actor Jim Caviezel says you’ll be disappointed.

In the original series, McGoohan played a British intelligence officer who mysteriously resigned on principle — we never find out why. The opening credits take a full two minutes and set up the series’ premise. They start with McGoohan racing through the streets of London before stalking angrily into the office of the head (presumably) of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency.

Shortly after, McGoohan is exposed to vapors that send him into a deep sleep. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a pastel-colored compound of cheery houses and landscaped gardens.

He has arrived in the “Village,” a place where maverick intelligence operatives from all sides of the Iron Curtain are held. McGoohan is handed a new identity, “Number Six.” His main captor is an ever-changing character known as the “New Number Two.”

Over the original 17 episodes, we never find out why Number Six was sent away or much about any of the other captives in the Village. But as the series unfolds, it becomes clear that The Prisoner is an allegorical tale. It’s about individualism versus collectivism, freedom versus controlled democracy, and principle versus cynicism…

[continues in a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120367805">NPR]

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4 Responses to In ‘Prisoner,’ Twisted Whimsy Flirts With New Fears

  1. Buffet November 14, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    Sounds intriguing. Why was the original abandoned and where can I get it?

  2. gnj November 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    The new version of the series lacks the Orwellian-Huxley-MKULTRA feel of the original. Oh, well…

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