08 June, 2010

Be Seeing You

Yes, I broke down and watched The Prisoner. Which version? you ask. Both, I answer. The first one's better, isn't it? you ask, looking for affirmation. I shrug.

It's hard to compare because they're so different. I don't think the second one is trying to remake the first; it's just taking some of the same ideas and running with them. Both series are somewhat disjointed, if you ask me; many episodes make complete sense in their context but don't cohere well with other episodes.

In the first series, for example, I didn't much care for Many Happy Returns in the first series, and the series conclusion (Fall Out) did strike me as a little over the top. But, at least I understood correctly who Number One was (as confirmed by a subsequent interview with Patrick McGoohan that I found on YouTube) notwithstanding the fact that (a) it's an allegory (by McGoohan's own insistence) and (b) several sites online insist that Number One is really something else.

I was especially frustrated that Rachel Herbert's Number Two in the original series' Free for All didn't return in another episode, because she was by far my favorite Number Two: evil genius. I reckon that tells you more about my own inadequacies than about the original series', of course; nevertheless, de gustibus non disputandum.

In the second series, the overall story ended in a way that struck me as just plain wrong. I don't know how to explain it as just that, well, I figured there had to have been a deception going on by Number Two and his wife, but the authors never reveal it if so.

Also, the second series explains too much in comparison to the first, losing much of the beauty. Still, I like it a lot more than most of the reviews I've seen online—and I think Caviezel makes a fine Number Six, actually.

The biggest difference I noticed between the two is that the older series didn't feel compelled to populate the show with "young and beautiful" types. Sure, the characters were, in the main, not unattractive, but they're mostly middle-aged, and many are paunchy and unhealthy. Most were also quite unfashionable. In the re-imagining, by contrast, most all the main characters are young and beautiful, and McKellen, God bless him, is both elegant and striking for an elderly gentleman. Contrast him to Leo McKern, or some of the other Number Two's from the original.

As you can guess, I can't discommend either. I think both deserve watching. There are moments in each when I said to myself, This is awesome! and there are moments where I groaned with dismay. Oh, well.

No comments: