Back in 1967 writer/producer/actor Patrick McGoohan befuddled the world with the brilliant, surreal and utterly perplexing 17-episode series, The Prisoner, which saw a secret agent forcibly 'retired' to 'The Village', an enigmatic seaside resort in an unknown location. The agent, only known as 'Number Six', repeatedly tried to escape but to little avail until the brain-meltingly bizarre finale finally revealed...well, maybe the truth, or maybe just a total descent into abject lunacy.
Various attempts have been made ever since to bring the series back, but the completely bonkers nature of the show made resurrecting it a dubious proposition. Finally, someone has succeeded. The American cable channel AMC and the British channel ITV have clubbed together to produce, yup, a new version of The Prisoner. Sensibly, they seem to have opted for a new approach using some of the same names and motifs as the original, but dropping the specific story elements in a manner reminiscent of the new Battlestar Galactica. So there's still a Village, but it's now in the middle of the desert. The new Number Six (James Caviezel) seems to be a different type of character to the original, and there's a permanent Number Two (Ian McKellen), in contrast to the original where there was a new Number Two almost every week. In particular, the new version seems to seriously bump up the idea of everyone in the Village being brainwashed into submission and Number Six's route to freedom may lie in 'freeing' them rather than in just trying to escape himself.
The nine-minute trailer is interesting, hinting that this could be a paranoid and intense thriller with very impressive production values. The whole thing was filmed in the Namibian desert at great expense, especially the recreation of 1960s vehicles, buildings and costumes. Hiring Jesus and Gandalf as your central two characters also doesn't come cheap. The only question is whether the six-part mini-series can live up to the legacy that came before it. Ian McKellan's blog is very positive, but I guess we'll find out for sure in November.