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  • #6217
    Phil
    Participant

    Did anyone here watch the AMC remake of The Prisoner? I just noticed it’s on DVD now and I’m wondering if it’s worth checking out.

    This is a short post.

    #109643
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    I watched the first episode and found my attention quickly wavering. I fell asleep during the second episode and didn’t have the enthusiasm to try again. I got ten minutes into the third episode, then decided I just couldn’t be bothered with it. I won’t be watching any more.

    I’m at a loss as to how they could take such an interesting idea and just make it so horrendously dull. It’s even worse than Flash Forward.

    Try and find it online and see if you like it, but I’d strongly advise against a blind buy.

    #109647
    Alex
    Participant

    It’s… different. It’s by no means as awful as I’d expected and it did keep me watching until the end. I still prefer the original but there were some nice things in this one, mostly past episode 2. I suppose my overall complaint would be that it wasn’t quite as strange as the original, and that’s not just because they provided a resolution to the story, it just seemed toned down in general. I was happy enough with the way it finished, (and the very last scene has a nice twist that I’m sure I remember either McGoohan suggested at some point or being used in Shattered Visage,) but at the same time I can see that it would probably irritate some people. Quite a few of the people I know that liked it tend to be the ones that never saw the original, which is perhaps telling, but I don’t think it should exclude you from liking it. That said it all comes down to what expectations you go into it with.

    #109648
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    Comment awaiting moderation? Bah!

    #109649
    Andrew
    Participant

    I’ll just cut and paste what I’ve said on Twitter:

    Prisoner remake: Dazed storytelling and a wholly uninteresting main character. This is not boding well.

    No 2 refs Neverneverland to 6 hours after asking him to believe that the whole of ‘real life’ doesn’t exist. Um – so no pop culture, then?

    Prisoner [ep one] ended with a Rover. Fun for people who know the old show; suspect newcomers were baffled. Run, big balloon, squash, cut to credits.

    Given the events of this week’s Prisoner [episode two] – physically unexplainable stuff like the moving of an entire ocean – I decided to read ahead…*so* glad I did. Bloody awful pay-off to a series that’s impossible to emotionally invest in. Can now comfortably skip eps 3 to 6.

    Prisoner remake: If you could film what a migraine feels like, this would be it.

    #109650
    Phil
    Participant

    So at best it’s watchable with some interesting flourishes, and at worst it’s…well, Andrew’s last tweet says it pretty well.

    Guess I’m glad I didn’t make the blind purchase. I was nearly convinced the $20 would be decently spent, at least.

    I’ll see if I can’t track it down for viewing online. If anyone else has opinions on how worthy/unworthy this is, I’d still be interested in hearing what other reactions were.

    #109653
    ori-STUDFARM
    Participant

    Ep 1. Fell asleep after the guy arrived at a town full of Butlins holiday chalets…and wasn’t compelled to ever let it grace my screen again!

    #109654
    Alex
    Participant

    Given the events of this week’s Prisoner [episode two] – physically unexplainable stuff like the moving of an entire ocean – I decided to read ahead

    That’s really no more of a head fuck than a lot of events in the original, i.e. the end of Chimes Of Big Ben where having seen 6 escape to London it turns out he’s never left the Village. As for Rover, in the original it’s existence was not explained (while it is in the remake) so I don’t think that can be held against it really. I think the ‘hard to explain’ argument is a tad void when dealing with either incarnation of this show. It is much harder to defend it against the ‘overlong and self-important’ argument however.

    Personally, I think the new version has a bit too much of a need to explain every thing that happens. One of the things I have always liked about the original is that a lot of it is open to interpretation and that it had a core message that it was dealing with. The new version doesn’t have anything like that; there are the odd bits of psychological discussion and a vague comment on the nature of surveillance in modern society, but nothing on the same level. Overall you do get the sense that perhaps this version could have done with being no more than 2 hours and done as a film considering the kind of story that they were trying to tell. A vast amount of the series could be cut out with few ill effects to the overall plot.

    I’d still choose the original to watch if I had the choice, as I still feel that it’s a story designed to be told the way it was first of all. (For example, the phrase ‘Be seeing you’ in the original came across as pleasantry that you might find in English whimsy, but played out here it seemed to carry sinister undertones. The remake uses it as well but in the same way you might be told in the US to ‘have a nice day’. It still works as to sounding over-friendly, but something doesn’t sit quite right with me. I have the same problem with the remake of The Ladykillers; a comedy of politeness that doesn’t quite translate correctly when adapted for an American audience. That said, as I stated before, I did watch it from start to finish and didn’t feel that I had been robbed of 6 hours by the end and there were things I enjoyed in it (though mostly from about episode 3 onwards) that I thought were good, and while the main twist at the end explaining everything might have been a little under whelming, I thought that the ultimate fate of 6 was quite well handled.

    #109656
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    Well, since my original comment seems to be lost;

    Episode 1 : Struggled to pay attention, what with it being BORING.
    Episode 2 : Fell asleep.
    Episode 3 : Got 10 minutes into it. Decided that I just couldn’t be arsed and switched it off.

    It’s still on my Sky+, so I may give it another go. I LOVE The Schizoid Man. Think it’s one of the cleverest bits of TV I’ve ever seen. The 5th episode of the remake is called “Schizoid”, so that may lure me in again.

    But, to summarise, they’ve taken an intriguing, amazing idea and turned it into something incredibly dull. Definitely not worth a blind buy.

    #109657
    Andrew
    Participant

    > That’s really no more of a head fuck than a lot of events in the original, i.e. the end of Chimes Of Big Ben where having seen 6 escape to London it turns out he’s never left the Village.

    Well…yes, it is. It *massively* is.

    The head fuck of “I was in a box and thought I was escaping to London, but they just moved me around and brought me back” is clear and straightforward. It’s just a con of perspective, a magic trick, it requires the subject to be in a specific place to view the gag – pull back wide and the reveal is wholly pedestrian.

    The head fuck of “I climbed a specific ridge in a massive desert – first time it lead to a vast ocean, second time it led to loads more desert” has no such explanation. You can’t put that down to a load of blokes going out in the night and moving the ocean.

    The point is that, as soon as a show starts showing you *literally* impossible things – as opposed to things that can be rationalised – the number of end-of-series explanations available is reduced to very few options. None of which are likely to be dramatically satisfying. Why is impossible stuff allowable? Because the explanation’s not-even-Life-on-Mars-USA-quality bollocks.

    Even the biggest head-fucks in the original series had in-episode explanations. Scientifically beyond the means of the time, sure, but absolutely understandable and explained to the audience. Coherent episodes, symbolic finale. This goes for unexplainable balls within its episodes, then rationalises it all at the end.

    And for me, that sucked away the only pleasure I was getting. The characterisation is weak, the direction indulgent and ill-judged, and the writing mistakes confusion for intrigue. The mystery is all you have left, but the moment reality starts getting bent the mystery is pretty much guaranteed to have a crappy truth behind it.

    > As for Rover, in the original it’s existence was not explained (while it is in the remake)

    Not in episode one (the time of that tweet) it wasn’t. It showed up at the last moment…and they cut to credits. It’s just a mad piece of imagery at the end of a migraine of an episode. Whereas in the original series it was clearly deployed as a device at the command of the village’s higher-ups, here you didn’t know *what* it was…unless you already knew the old show.

    > For example, the phrase ‘Be seeing you’ in the original came across as pleasantry that you might find in English whimsy, but played out here it seemed to carry sinister undertones.

    See, this worries me. The original series explained the Rover in episode one. It used the Chimes story as a very specific and explainable bit of subjective trickery. And it made a very deliberate point of the “Be seeing you” repetition *as* something sinister and hinting at mistrust. (To the point where Babylon 5 adopted it for the Psi-Corps’ creepy dealings – which suggests JMS got the implication.)

    I think we’ve seen very different shows!

    #109658
    Alex
    Participant

    Even the biggest head-fucks in the original series had in-episode explanations.

    Well the most obvious thing to refer to here is that the ending of Fallout didn’t. How six was one etc. They’ve been attempting to explain it in spin offs for years but the episode itself doesn’t. And anyway, by about episode 3 of the remake it’s pretty much said outright that the village is not in this reality. The idea of the mystery shifts quickly from where the village is there to why it is there.

    > For example, the phrase ‘Be seeing you’ in the original came across as pleasantry that you might find in English whimsy, but played out here it seemed to carry sinister undertones.

    And it made a very deliberate point of the “Be seeing you” repetition *as* something sinister and hinting at mistrust. (To the point where Babylon 5 adopted it for the Psi-Corps’ creepy dealings – which suggests JMS got the implication.)

    Sorry, worded that badly. Meant to make it clear that the original was sinister, and that this version only carries a suggestion that it might be and doesn’t use it very often. But yes, I’d agree it’s something that should have been used more and more effectivly.

    I think we’ve seen very different shows!

    I think it’s more that I’ve seen all of the new series rather than 2 episodes and I’m judging it as an overall piece rather than judging the individual episodes. This is part of what I meant about cutting it down though, if you condensed it all into a film and had things like Rover earlier on with the explanation etc all coming in one sitting I think people wouldn’t be as turned off by it. They talk a lot in interviews for it about how they felt they were ‘filming two movies’ and you can’t help but think it would have been better if they’d just done it and cut it down to one. Like I said, it’s far from perfect, but equally I just didn’t think it was quite as bad as has been suggested.

    #109659
    Andrew
    Participant

    > Well the most obvious thing to refer to here is that the ending of Fallout didn’t. How six was one etc.

    See, I thought I covered that with my “Coherent episodes, symbolic finale” line. Taking the one – already acknowledged – exception doesn’t contradict what I said about the show’s episodic stories been clear and coherent.

    Put another way – I’m not sure people would have happily watched Fallout for 16 weeks so long as an explanation was expected at the finale.

    My entire point was about how including unexplainable head-fuck events early on forces a clear direction on the rest of a series. A direction that doesn’t make for great TV. I feel like maybe you’re not quite seeing what I’m getting at, since neither ‘the original ending was a head fuck’ or ‘they mess with six’s head in the old show, too’ stand in contradiction to that original point.

    > But yes, I’d agree it’s something that should have been used more and more effectivly.

    Um…I didn’t say anything about how it should have been used.

    > I’m judging it as an overall piece rather than judging the individual episodes.

    And since my point was that individual episodes aren’t proving remotely satisfying, and promising an arc that can only lead to tosh loose-end-tying, I’m not sure that matters. Or, more accurately, I’m not sure “The show makes sense when you’ve seen the ending” is enough. That should be taken as a given, and in the meantime…it’s a mess.

    The final episode of the original series chose ambiguity after an entire run of strict episode-by-episode storytelling. The remake’s finale will chose ‘the only thing that’ll make it all add up’ having done an entire run of confused nonsense. What kind of dope makes telly that way?

    #109664
    Steve Harris
    Participant

    Ive only seen 3 episodes but have enjoyed it so far.

    Maybe the biggest problem is trying to cram the whole basic idea into a mini series though. The story is complicated which leaves little time to concentrate on developing characters backgrounds, hence we get rather shallow views of them. Clearly there’s a lot of mind bending manipulation going on so seeing an ocean vanish isn’t maybe such a big deal..

    I’m sticking with it…

    #109667
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    >Well, since my original comment seems to be lost

    Which is weird, because I can see it, and it doesn’t have a “publish” option next to it. Suggesting it’s already published.

    #109660
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    Yeah, it’s turned up. Think it got stuck behind the fridge.

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