Earlier this week, AMC dropped a teaser for the channel’s upcoming remake of the classic Patrick McGoohan ITV series The Prisoner. I’ve been curious about how this would look, not to mention why exactly it’s being made, and the teaser at least gives an indication of the aesthetic. The six episode mini-series, which premieres in November, stars Jim Caviezel in Patrick McGoohan’s role as Number Six, and Ian McKellen as Number Two. See the teaser after the jump.
The Prisoner ran seventeen episodes on ITV in 1967 and ’68. It was created by Patrick McGoohan as a vague follow up to his series Danger Man. In the original, McGoohan’s Number Six was explicitly an intelligence agent who, upon his unexpected retirement, is kidnapped and sent to a mysterious seaside village/prison where other prisoners and the enigmatic Number Two used unusual methods to toy with his mental state and evaluate what information he holds secret. The series is a television landmark for combining hallucinogenic imagery with science fiction conventions and Orwellian political overtones. The opening sequence, embedded after the new teaser below, is one of the most striking pieces of television ever created.
We don’t know if Caviezel’s Number Six has political ties, only that he arrives in The Village with no memory of how he came to be there. We also don’t know if this mini-series is a story that takes place in the continuity of the original series, or if it is a wholly separate reinterpretation. The BBC has said the show “will reflect 21st century concerns and anxieties such as liberty, security and surveillance.” More important: will Rover, the bouncing semi-sentient weather balloon that acted as outer guard for The Village, return? And while one of the most significant characters in the original was The Village itself, played by Portmeiron Village in Wales, the new Village is tropical, and scenes have been shot also in South Africa and Namibia.
But there is reason to be hopeful. AMC has done wonders with the original series Breaking Bad and Mad Men; it’s not like the network is just another source for edited for television films. For more information, scour through AMC’s relatively extensive collection of behind the scenes video. (Though they don’t seem to have a single decent promo shot of Caviezel and McKellen in character. WTF, AMC?) The network’s website is also streaming the entire original series, which suggests they’re at least confident enough in the new work to stack it up directly against the classic.