I’ve got a pretty embarrassing confession to make: I was pretty damn excited when AMC started airing commercials of The Prisoner remake. I told everyone within earshot about it. “Man, are you going to be watching Prisoner?” I’d say. “It looks totally sweet! Watch it watch it watch it!” I planned my weekend around watching it, even flipping channels from a riveting Patriots-Colts match-up on Sunday Night Football. The special effects looked slick, and changing the setting from an island to a desert not only looked scenic, but also opened up the possibility of new twists to the original. Plus it starred Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen. You heard that right: Ian Friggin’ McKellen. The man who made Gandalf the Grey a believable parable for the Civil Rights Movement. There’s no WAY this was anything but must see TV!
And I’m not even that huge of a Prisoner fan. I’d only seen three episodes beforehand: “Arrival,” “The Chimes of Big Ben”, and the ridiculously trippy finale “Fall Out.” Plus I was indoctrinated by all “The Prisoner” pop culture references, mainly the infamous Simpsons episode where Homer ends up on … The Island. (“Why a balloon?” “Shut up! That’s why!”) There’s so much potential in a remake: perhaps we could get new, fresh resolutions to a lot of the unanswered questions in the original!
So I watched the remake and … well.. in the words of MST3K‘s The Mads: “Sandstorm. Saaaaaannnnndddstoooorrrmmmm. Deeeeeep Hurrrttttiiinnnggg.”
In the first two episodes, you get maybe 5 minutes of awesomeness (any appearance of Rover and most of Ian McKellan’s scenes) and 120 minutes of moping, “surreal” imagery that really wasn’t all that weird, and uninteresting secondary characters. I tried to like this remake. By God, did I ever try. Even after my initial disappointment, I tuned in to the conclusion on Wednesday, just to see how what the AMC series would tie it all together. I fell asleep only about 10 minutes in. Does Jim Caviezel dance to “Dem Bones” while robed judges in half-black, half-white masks cheer on? I have no idea. The Wikipedia plot summary doesn’t give me much hope, though, because the secret behind The Village sounds LAME AS ALL HELL.
At the same time, AMC launched a webcomic — I’m sorry, “online graphic novel” — to expand on The Prisoner mythos. It can be found here at the AMC site. Now, given that I hated, hated, HATED AMC’s The Prisoner, you’ve got to ask yourself: why in the world would I ever even bother to read The Prisoner webcomic? Well, I was partly driven by due dilligence and partly driven by morbid curiosity. I also held a small, irrational glimmer of hope, too, that there might be a chance The Prisoner webcomic could surpass the TV show as the standard bearer for the modern day Prisoner canon.