Friday, November 20, 2009

Lock Up The Prisoner

    AMC remade the British classic, The Prisoner, but unfortunately, it was a snooze fest.  For purposes of full disclosure, I have never seen the former version, and though I enjoy the AMC original series Breaking Bad, I find their critical hit Mad Men to be incredibly boring.  So if your opinion of the network differs from mine, you may not be pleased with this review.

     The story centers on 6, a man known only by a number, waking up in some strange desert town called The Village (no, not the same Village from M. Night Shyamalan).  The residents of the Village insist that there is no other world outside of this place, but 6 is plagued by dreams of another life, and doesn't remember being there before, though he has a house.  The mystery deepens as he struggles to find out why an old man has died, and why others dream strange dreams and sketch landmarks such as Big Ben and the Statue of Liberty.  Running The Village is 2, who has a son 11-12, and whose mother is in a coma.  The first major twist is when 6 discovers that 16, who told him they were brothers, was lying, but for what purpose?  Every time 6 seems close to figuring out a piece of the puzzle, someone is killed or disappears or distracts him.

     The problem is, the story is just not that interesting.  James Caviezel (Jesus in The Passion of the Christ) plays a 6 that doesn't have viewers rooting for him at all.  He seems more annoying that heroic.  Similarly, 11-12, who is supposed to have major subplot, just comes across as whiny and cold.  The female love interests are not in the least attractive nor compelling.  And by the time something starts to happen in the 5th and 6th hours, a 2 and 6 duplicate have shown up and made things even more confusing.  Is it all happening in their heads, or is there really an isolated Village?  I don't really care, nor do I care about the evil company behind it.  It's been done before, and with more talent behind it.  Admittedly, this show was made in the sixties, so it predates many of the stories I am comparing it to, but since this is a new miniseries, it faces those comparisons.

     The bright spot is Sir Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, X-Men) playing 2.  He is always a wonderful actor, and this is no exception.  Surrounded by dullards, he manages to shine even more by comparison.  His is clearly a complicated character, with much motivation hidden eternally, and yet, McKellen manages to convey those secrets.  He is the only reason I still have the 6th hour running on my TV as I write this article, already having given up on 2's plight.

     One final comment, the tone and mood of this miniseries, as well as the score and special effects, lead one to conclude that this show would have more appropriately aired on the SyFy channel.  Previous efforts of their's, Flash Gordon and Tin Man come to mind, were similar.  Though SyFy doesn't always have the best judgment on their programming (Battlestar Galactica excepted), one has to wonder if perhaps they weren't offered the show and wisely passed.

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