Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Prisoner [updated]

The remake of the cult series that starred Patrick McGoohan, he of the one facial expression, begins tonight on AMC, continuing tomorrow and finishing Tuesday. I'm looking forward to it.

I watched "The Prisoner" originally as a re-run on TVO (or was it PBS?), avoiding most of Warner Troyer's insufferably pretentious post-show commentaries (a parasitical series called "The Prisoner Puzzle"). For once I just wanted to watch, not analyze. But no doubt I'll have some insufferably pretentious things of my own to say at the end of the three-part opus.

In the first series, a secret agent found himself in an odd and alarming place called The Village, where people had numbers, not names. The agent was Number 6. Why was he there? Supposedly because he resigned abruptly from the shadowy government outfit he worked for, and The Powers That Be wanted to know why. So various TPTB minions, a veritable parade of fungible Number 2's, tried ingeniously to worm it out of him, at what must have been a considerable cost to the taxpayer. Why didn't they just torture him? Wouldn't that have been cheaper, more efficient and the way real agencies of that sort behave?

But of course we are actually dealing with our existential plight in a world of simulacra and signs. (There I go.) So the re-make effortlessly replaces the secret agent with a corporate consumer-trends spotter. The same questions, however, apply:

Are we free or controlled? Do we think our thoughts or do we only think we think them and they are really put in our minds by others? Is love real or a product being sold to us? And so on.

The ghost of Jean Baudrillard--the godfather of The Matrix, even if he thought the movie got him wrong--will likely tune in tonight, and so should you, my fellow Villagers.

Comments on the series as it unfolds are strongly encouraged by Number 1.

UPDATE: (November 17)

Good grief, how flabby was that?

A combination of David Lynch's myriad loose ends in Twin Peaks, making the inability to construct a coherent narrative into a virtue, and the moralistic stupor of The Outer Limits. I half-expected a voiceover to read us the lesson of the day.

Worst remake ever. Anyone catch the hommage to the original? Hint: it was in the strip club.

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