“The Prisoner” Returns

Wonderful news for sci-fi fans today as the Guardian reports that Ian McKellen has signed on to star in a remake of one of my all-time favorite TV shows – The Prisoner. Opposite McKellen in the leading role made famous by Patrick McGoohan, is Jim Caviezel of The Thin Red Line. Both Caviezel and McKellen will star in all six (no pun intended) episodes of the mini series that tells the tale of a kidnapped British spy trapped in a mysterious place known as The Village.

The enigmatic series originally aired in the UK the 1960’s and instantly became a cult hit. The show employed clever dramatic devices and an intricate plot arcs that were the forerunners of shows like Lost and Twin Peaks. Says writer Bill Gallagher of the new series:

“will reflect 21st century concerns and anxieties, such as liberty, security and surveillance, yet also showcase the same key elements of paranoia, tense action and socio-political commentary seen in McGoohan’s enigmatic original”.

With such big name stars as Ian McKellen, I have high hopes that this new remake of The Prisoner can recapture some of the mystery and surreal qualities of the original. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long before the series is shipped to the states. The Guardian piece says The Prisoner will air on AMC, which is fine by me, as long as it’s just not the Sci-Fi Channel.


  1. I have mixed feelings about this: the original series was such a precarious balance between cold war politics, druggie 60s counter culture and the wilful and intense personality of Patrick McGoohan, who created, wrote and produced the series as well as starring in it. The fact that it worked at all is all down to McGoohan, who managed to keep the thing from going off the rails, just like Lindelof and Cuse do for Lost.

    I was introduced to The Prisoner by my Dad, who loved it in the 60s, when it was shown on re-runs in the early 80s. I was hooked and addicted to this weird, fantastical show that had this bizarre undercurrent of menace, and together with watching Eraserhead at a young age, helped shape my sensibilities and led me to study film at university. As a family, we even went on holiday to Portmeirion, where the Prisoner was filmed.

    I’m not sure I trust ITV, who normally produce stuff at the lower end of the entertainment spectrum, to do the right thing by this property, but while being cynical, I’ll just have to wait and see.

    For me, this is a bit like my grandad getting a new wife who’s a young leggy blonde: she might be great to look at, but she’s not my grandma.

  2. The idea of a remake is very depressing news, it would be like doing a remake of Citizen Kane. Also the entire show was about the Cold War, to update it would be like re-making The Longest Day but setting it in Vietnam or the Civil War. That entire series was the child of Patrick McGoohan, unless he was creatively guiding it I wouldn’t trust the results.

  3. You’re probably right Michael. I got my hopes up way to high for the re-make of the Andromeda Strain so god knows I shouldn’t repeat my mistakes this time around. But there’s a small part of me that holds out hope. I reserve the right to reserve judgement. At least for now 😉

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