Time is too short to explain here why I loved Patrick McGoohan’s influential series The Prisoner. Instead, Wired paid me to pontificate about it, starting with AMC’s ambitious reboot starring Sir Ian McKellen and Jim Caviezel. Might as well bring the worst news first:
Review: The Prisoner Reboot Takes Sci-Fi Out of Spy-Fi
Four decades after The Prisoner kissed off the ’60s with a cerebral hit of paranoia, AMC and ITV’s reboot of the influential spy-fi series has finally arrived to upgrade the panopticon. But does it have bleeding-edge lenses? The short answer is no.
Slipstreaming between Africa and New York and stripped almost entirely of humor and heart, the new Prisoner, which airs in six parts Sunday through Tuesday on AMC, is too heavy on domestic melodrama and too light on sci-fi possibility. Rather than taking its contemporary obsessions about love in the time of technology to the outer limits, director Nick Hurran and producer Trevor Hopkins have played it safe.
What gets lost in the remake’s dark dissection of human relationships complicated by ubiquitous surveillance and callous commodification is, simply put, ambition. And whether it’s too many love triangles, too much mood music or too obvious subplots — all complicated by the prodigious impact of its source material — the new iteration is too light on the spirited experimentation of its predecessor to stand out from the growing crowd of Prisoner disciples like Twin Peaks, The Matrix, Lost and more.
But if you’re a fan of heavy drama sprinkled with slight sci-fi, Hurran and Hopkins’ reboot fits in fine with the usual speculative TV suspects like Lost and Heroes. Just don’t come expecting a next-gen experience. The 2009 model of The Prisoner is merely a compression of its parent narrative — the same episodes and conceits distilled into six slow-motion episodes — albeit flavored lightly with a dash of mad science and sinister post-9/11 intrigue.
It still tastes like chicken. MORE @ WIRED