The Prisoner (2009 miniseries)
|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (January 2011)|
|Based on||The Prisoner
by Patrick McGoohan
|Written by||Bill Gallagher|
|Directed by||Nick Hurran|
|Music by||Rupert Gregson-Williams|
|Country of origin||United States
|No. of episodes||6 (list of episodes)|
45 minutes (per episode)360 minutes (Full running time)
ITV, STV, UTV
|Original release||November 15– November 17, 2009|
The Prisoner is a 2009 television miniseries based on the 1960s TV series The Prisoner. The series concerned a man who awakens in a mysterious, picturesque, but escape-proof village. It was co-produced by American cable network AMC with British channel ITV, who now hold the rights to the original series.
The series begins with an unidentified man waking up in a desert and finding himself in the middle of a pursuit as mysterious guards chase an elderly man through a canyon. The old man dies soon after, but not before passing a message on to the younger man: "Tell them I got out."
The man arrives in an enigmatic community, whose residents inform him that it's called simply The Village. Everyone he meets is known only by a number—he learns his number is 6—and he discovers that they have no knowledge or memory of the outside world.
6 is unable to remember his real name, and recalls only snippets of his life in New York City. He had met and seduced a mysterious woman in a diner. He finds himself locked in a battle of wills against 2, the Village's leader, who goes to great lengths to make 6 assimilate. 6, meanwhile, tries to contact "dreamers" — Village residents who, like him, have been experiencing flashes of memory of their lives outside of the Village. Along the way, he befriends 147, a Village taxi driver; 313, a doctor with whom 6 develops a romantic connection, but who has her own secrets; and "11–12", 2's son, who begins to question the reality of the Village.
A remake had been in the works since 2005.
The miniseries was promoted at 2008 San Diego ComicCon via a skywriter airplane that sketched the phrase "Seek the Six" on the sky over San Diego. Although "Seek the Six" was initially thought to be a catchphrase of some sort, it did not appear in the final cut.
The series premiered on November 15, 2009 as a miniseries on North American cable channel AMC in cooperation with British broadcaster ITV. The six part series premiered in the UK on April 17, 2010. AMC streamed all 17 episodes of the original Prisoner series in advance of showing the remake.
AMC's original airing of the series combined the episodes, with episodes 1 and 2 airing on day 1, etc., with only one set of opening and closing credits for both. ITV broadcast the episodes individually, over six consecutive Saturday nights in the spring of 2010. The DVD release restores the 6-episode format.
- Ian McKellen as 2 / Curtis
- Jim Caviezel as 6 / Michael
- Ruth Wilson as 313 / Sarah
- Jamie Campbell Bower as 11–12
- Hayley Atwell as 4–15 / Lucy
- Rachael Blake as M2
- Lennie James as 147
- Renate Stuurman as 21-16
- John Whiteley as 93 – Episode 1, "Arrival"
- Jessica Haines as 554 – Episode 1, "Arrival"
- David Butler as 37927 / The Access Man – Episode 1, "Arrival" and Episode 5, "Schizoid"
- Jeffrey R. Smith as 16 – Episode 2, "Harmony"
- James Cunigham as 70 & Shadow 70 – Episode 2, "Harmony"
- Leila Henriques as The Winking Woman – Episode 2, "Harmony"
- Vincent Regan as 909 – Episode 3, "Anvil"
- Warrick Grier as 1955 – Episode 3, "Anvil"
- Lauren Dasnev as 1100 – Episode 3, "Anvil"
- Sara Stewart as 1894 – Episode 4, "Darling"
The Prisoner went into production in June 2008. Location filming for The Village was in Swakopmund, Namibia. A production diary is available. After 18 weeks of shooting, principal photography wrapped on December 12, 2008.
According to Patrick McGoohan's widow, producers of the new series had hoped that McGoohan would play a part in the revival. "They wanted Patrick to have some part in it, but he adamantly didn't want to be involved. He had already done it," she said in an interview shortly after McGoohan's death. This was contradicted by Ian McKellen in an interview featured in the November 2009 edition of SFX Magazine where he was quoted as saying:
"He was asked to be in the first episode, there being a part that would have been very ironically fitting, but apparently he said that he didn't want to do it unless he was offered the part of Number Two."
Producer Trevor Hopkins confirmed in an interview that he had invited McGoohan to play the role of the Number Six-like old man encountered by Caviezel's character early in the first episode. This is suggested by the jacket worn by the old man – the same style jacket as worn by number Six in the first series. McGoohan declined, but suggested he could play Number 2 instead.
Los Angeles Times television critic Robert Lloyd wrote "why anyone, on either side of the screen, should be particularly interested in his fate, is never made clear nor compelling," and further states "the payoff is weak, and more than a bit daffy." In a comparison with the miniseries to AMC's hit series Mad Men, he writes "the difference [is] that 'Mad Men' is never boring."
Chicago Sun-Times reviewer Paige Wiser declares "There's also a reason why I am not conking myself on the head with a croquet mallet, but The Prisoner somehow has the same effect," and with reference to viewing all six hours of the miniseries, concludes "I urge you to heed my advice: Opt out while you can."
New York Times reviewer Alessandra Stanley struck a contrary note: "This version of The Prisoner is not a remake, it's a clever and engaging reinterpretation by Bill Gallagher, who shaped the script to contemporary tastes and sensibilities — notably, a postmodern fatigue with ideology and big thoughts." She concludes "The 21st century adaptation pays only lip service to the human condition, and instead explores a power struggle between two human beings. It's unlikely to prove as lasting, but the new series still manages to be thrilling." Furthermore, it was positively reviewed in the Radio Times and also by Sam Wallaston who writing for The Guardian, described it as "a triumph with something of The Truman Show about it" with "a tension and a claustrophobia that gnaw away at you, making you look at your own psyche."
Each episode title in the series is one word taken from an episode title from the original programme.
|No.||Title||Original series title which inspired this title||Original airdate|
|1||"Arrival"||Arrival||November 15, 2009|
|6 wakes up in the desert, where he sees an old man, 93, and several pursuers shooting at him. 93 is dragged into a cave by 6, where 93 tells 6 to "go to 554" before dying. 6 buries 93 and wanders into the Village, where he meets 2 and is grilled about the location of 93. He finds a confidant in 554, who is killed on 2's orders as 554 formally introduces 6 to his new home.|
|2||"Harmony"||Living in Harmony||November 15, 2009|
|6 struggles to find allies to escape from the Village. 2 introduces 6 to his brother's family to convince him he belongs. 6 had a brother who drowned in childhood. As 6 begins to doubt himself, his brother admits to the facade and the pair make a failed attempt at escape. His brother drowns in the attempt, following an encounter with Rover, but 6 finds renewed faith in himself. Meanwhile, 2 and 11–12 are seen discussing 11-12's apparent lack of childhood memories.|
|3||"Anvil"||Hammer Into Anvil||November 16, 2009|
|2 offers 6 the opportunity to become an undercover agent, spying on suspected dreamers. 6 accepts with ulterior motives. He works with 909, who is spying on him. 6 follows 909 into the Go Inside bar, where he finds him meeting with his secret lover, 11–12. He blackmails the two men. Rather than allowing the relationship to be discovered, 11–12 kills 909. 6 blackmails 11–12 to help him rescue 313, who's been captured and sent to the clinic.|
|4||"Darling"||Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling||November 16, 2009|
|The Village Matchmaking Service targets 6, pairing him with a woman, 4–15. 6 recalls 4–15 from a brief encounter with his New York alter ego, Michael, shortly before he was taken to the Village. 4–15, however, pretends that she does not remember 6. They become lovers and plan to marry until 313 intervenes. 4–15 reveals to 6 that she is indeed Lucy, the woman Michael knew in New York; 2 has brought her to the Village to "break his heart" and spirit. 4–15 apparently dies by jumping into a bottomless pit that has appeared; in a concurrent flashback to New York, Lucy is apparently killed by an explosion in Michael's apartment.|
|5||"Schizoid"||The Schizoid Man||November 17, 2009|
|2 has embodied 6's animal desires in an identical double named 'Two Times Six'. 6 must find a way to reconcile himself with his desires, or risk being manipulated by 2 through them. Meanwhile, 11–12 confronts his mother, 313 sees more visions of her past, and 2 relaxes for a day as 'UnTwo'. In New York, Michael returns to Summakor to find answers. 11-12's mother reveals that bottomless holes appear when she is awake.|
|6||"Checkmate"||Checkmate||November 17, 2009|
6 encounters new arrivals, which contradicts claims that no world exists. 2 shows off new houses, indicating the village is expanding. This is later revealed to be to increase pressure on 6 to replace 2 to stop the holes from destroying the village. 6 confronts 2 about the newcomers, but soon forgets as 2 reveals he has afflicted 6 with a disease that will kill him. 6 confronts 11–12 when he meets him at 909's grave and again at the Go Inside bar. 11–12 is unable to reconcile himself to his false identity. He proceeds to smother his dreaming mother and hang himself.
In New York, Michael is escorted to a car so he may meet "Mr. Curtis". Events in New York and The Village begin to parallel each other, which Michael becomes increasingly aware of; he also encounters people in the real world that seem to be less tortured and more confident versions of people in the Village. 6's determination does not waver in the face of death and 2 allows him to live. In New York, Mr. Curtis, the real-world 2, introduces Michael to his wife, Helen, who, just as in the Village, is trapped in a sort of waking dream. Mr. Curtis explains that the Village is a form of therapy used to help people that Summakor has identified, although without regard to those people's desires. It exists within the mind of his wife, who 'discovered' the Village—a dream present in everyone at a level of consciousness deeper than the subconscious—and was its first inhabitant. Michael was drawn into the Village because he worked so well at Summakor, finding people who needed 'help'. 11-12 is revealed to be the only resident of the Village who doesn't exist in the real world. Curtis' use of the Village was to work through their trauma of being childless but the creation of the son threatened the Village's continued existence as it taxed Helen's mind to create someone new rather than engage existing minds. Neither could bring themselves to kill their son, but recent events have provided sufficient "rope" (inhuman behaviour including murder) that he hangs himself.At his son's funeral, 2 rallies the Villagers and tells them 6 is the only solution to the holes, while in New York, Curtis introduces Michael to Sara, the real world counterpart of 313, who is homeless and insane because of childhood trauma. Michael is overcome with his humanity and desire to help Sara and the villagers and replaces Curtis as the head of Summakor. In The Village, 6 becomes the new 2, while 313, having become despondently aware of her real-world self, becomes the dreamer, freeing Helen and allowing her to return to the real world. 6 begins planning how to 'do The Village right' and 313, now unresponsive as the dreamer, sheds a tear, knowing that 2 finally has won and 6 is now stuck in The Village for good.
Awards and nominations
– Best Miniseries (nominated)
– Television Producer of the Year in Longform: Michele Buck, Damien Timmer, Rebecca Keane, and Trevor Hopkins (nominated)
– Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Ian McKellen (nominated)
– Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Movie: Florian Hoffmeister for the episode "Checkmate" (nominated)
– Excellence In Production Design Award: Michael Pickwoad, Claudio Campana, Delarey Wagenar, Emilia Roux, and Delia de Villiers Minnaar (nominated)
– Best Presentation on Television (nominated)
In early 2010, Warner Home Video released The Prisoner in DVD format in Region 1/North America in a 3-disc collection.
Special features included deleted scenes for all episodes (including scenes from "Arrival" that explicitly indicate that 2 orders the bombing of the diner), and commentaries on "Arrival" and "Checkmate".
Featurettes in the set include:
- "A 6 Hour Film Shot in 92 Days: The Diary of the Prisoner" – behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the series, featuring footage previously available online.
- "Beautiful Prison: The World of the Prisoner" – a second behind-the-scenes documentary.
- "The Prisoner ComicCon Panel" – Jim Caviezel, Lennie James, Bill Gallagher, and others discuss the then-upcoming series at the 2009 San Diego ComiCon.
- "The Man Behind 2" – Jamie Campbell Bower conducts a tongue-in-cheek interview with his TV father, Ian McKellen.
ITV Studios Home Entertainment released a UK DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 3 May 2010. The listed extras include the deleted scenes, ComicCon panel and McKellen interview, but differ otherwise. They include:
- "The Making of" for all six episodes
- "Inside The Prisoner" for all six episodes
- The Prisoner Read Through
- Character Profiles
- "AMC » the prisoner about the show". Amctv.com. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
- "AMC » the prisoner about this website". Amctv.com. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
- It was announced in late 2005 that Granada would revive the series for Sky1 in 2007. BBC News: Remake for cult show The Prisoner Christopher Eccleston was initially rumoured to be considered for the title role and it was reported that the series would be titled Number Six instead of The Prisoner. Abortive remake plans actually pre-date 2005, with Simon West at one point in the early 2000s (decade) reported as directing a theatrical version. Patrick McGoohan himself had mulled over plans for a remake as early as the 1970s.
- "ComicCon Panel" special feature, included on the 2010 DVD release of the series by Warner Home Video.
- "AMC—Blogs—The Prisoner—Newsflash! The Prisoner Miniseries to Premiere Sun., Nov. 15". Blogs.amctv.com. 2009-09-29. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
- In December 2006, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the American cable TV channel AMC was co-producing The Prisoner with Sky1, and that it would run at least six to eight episodes, beginning in January 2008 (both in the UK and USA).ICv2 News — AMC Remaking 'The Prisoner'
- In May 2007 it was reported that Sky One had pulled out of the re-make due to a disagreement with AMC. In August 2007, Richard Woolfe, head of Sky One, stated: The Prisoner is not happening. It's a very quintessentially British drama and there were too many creative differences trying to share it with an American partner. I didn't want to be responsible for taking something that is quintessentially British and adapting it in a way that I didn't feel was reflective of the way people would remember it and the way people would want it to be. So we called time on that.Digital Spy: Q & A with Sky One head Richard Woolfe
- Revisit The Prisoner Online
- "AMC—Blogs—The Prisoner". Blogs.amctv.com. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
- "Production Diary Week 18—That's a Wrap!". AMC. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
- Palisade interview with McGoohan widow
- SFX Magazine, edition #188, November 2009, UK
- "The Prisoner - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- The Los Angeles Times, "The Prisoner: The AMC remake of the cult classic '60s British spy-fi series won't hold viewers captive," by Robert Lloyd (November 14, 2009—retrieved on November 18, 2009).
- Entertainment Weekly, "The Prisoner (2009–2009)," by Ken Tucker (November 11, 2009—retrieved on November 18, 2009).
- The Chicago Sun-Times, "The TV Paige: AMC's 'The Prisoner' remake," by Paige Wiser (November 14, 2009—retrieved on November 18, 2009).
- The San Francisco Chronicle, "TV review: Prisoner remake captive of past," by Tim Goodman (November 13, 2009—retrieved on November 18, 2009).
- Alessandra Stanley (November 12, 2009) "Rethinking of a Number Between 1 and 10", The New York Times. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
-  (April 25, 2010-retrieved on November 12, 2010).
- 93 is dressed identically to the original Number 6 from the 1960s series; according to an interview with Ian McKellen in SFX #188 ("The New Number Two", p.51), McGoohan was offered the role of 93, but declined.
- "AMC » The Prisoner". AMC. Retrieved 2009-11-17.
- "The Prisoner (2010) (R2/UK BD) in May". Home Cinema @ The Digital Fix. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
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