I was very excited to read that AMC and ITV were producing a six-episode mini-series based on The Prisoner, according to news posted on Six of One (the series’ “official appreciation site).


The 1967 British TV series about a former secret agent who is held prisoner in a surreal seaside village by captors who want to know the reason for his resignation.  I first saw the series when it was broadcast on CBS in 1968, but didn’t become a fan until my college years, when PBS ran it again.  The show’s theme about maintaining one’s individuality despite the pressure to conform so inspired me at the time, that I created an unauthorized computer game based upon the series that I still occasionally receive fan mail about today.


In fact, the title of this blog – The Black Sheep Journal – is a tip of that hat to that game, which if the player reveals his reason for resigning, ends the game by welcoming the player back to “the flock” and then saying, “Be seeing ewe” – a pun on the series’ catchphrase “Be seeing you.”  (“The Black Sheep Journal” is also homage to a company that I once worked for called “Cyberdreams”, whose electric sheep logo is itself homage to the Philip K. Dick story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep).


This remake, which begins filming in August and be aired next year, has an even stronger personal connection to me than the original series did.  According to the news article, the protagonist, Number 6, will be played by James Caviezel.  It so happens that my wife once worked with James Caviezel’s wife at the parochial school where she teaches, and I once met Mrs. Caviezel at a school function, although that was long before her husband starred in The Passion of the Christ. (In my previous blog entry, I discussed how she also worked with Cheech Marin’s mom.  My wife seems to have even stronger celebrity connections than I do!).


The news goes on to say that the series’ main antagonist, Number 2, will be played by Ian McKellen.  It also so happens that I’ve corresponded with Sir Ian a few times, when I was a news reporter for TheOneRing.com during the production of The Lord of The Rings.  So, I have a strong interest on a number of levels for following news about his production.


Not everyone is happy about the news of this remake as I am.  I’ve visited a couple of Prisoner websites, and the message boards are full of angry fans complaining about the news article reporting that this will be a “radical reinvention of the original show.”  Already I am reminded of the Purist vs. Revisionist wars among Tolkien fans as news would come out about Peter Jackson’s production of Lord of the Rings that revealed differences between the films and the books.


Now, I happen to be a Revisionist.  For anything of which I am a fan, I not only want to experience it in different formats and forms (e.g., novelizations, games, etc.), I am very interested in how another creative person would reinterpret the original work.  I can always revisit the original work, so I don’t find a remake or reinvention threatening.  In fact, I’m a professional Revisionist myself, having made a career out of adapting The Prisoner and other works.


So, I’ll be very curious to see how the show’s producers will reinterpret the original series.  According to the news article, it will be filmed on location in Namibia and Cape Town – a far cry from the original series’ Hotel Pottmeirion location.  The exotic location immediately made me think of Guantanomo Bay, and the controversies about the United States imprisoning “enemy combatants” there.  Will the new series not be about 1960’s issues such as conformity vs. individuality, but twenty-first century topics such as national security vs. the rights of due process, privacy, and protection from torture?


I’ll be following news about this remake closely as it comes out.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any inside information about this production… and even if I did, well, that would be telling…

1980 Publicity photo for “The Prisoner” computer game.

Be seeing ewe.

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