3/10 as a Prisoner remake
5/10 as a TV show
Okay, I went into this with an open mind, as far as one can with any show when one is familiar with the original. I expected major changes, I expected not to like some stuff and enjoy other aspects, I expected the old ideas to be shaken up a bit. Certainly, based on the source material, I expected something that would evoke a strong reaction, even if that reaction was utter hatred.
I didn't expect to be bored. I didn't think a pale imitation of the original was even possible.
What we've got with the 2009 opening episode is something we've seen done before - the odd community controlled by a genteel leader through secrets and lies - only this time it's been put through the special American safe-sameness generator. It feels like we've seen it all before, done better. It's isolated small town American run by the corrupt local mayor, or sheriff, or landowner...
Jim Caviezel is good. The problem is just that. He's good, not brilliant. Now I'm not expecting them to find another Patrick McGoohan, but the way Caviezel has approached the role is ordinary. Admittedly with the writing there is nothing special about his Number 6. The opening credits try to make him interesting, but that character has really only appeared for a few fleeting moments within the episode proper. He hasn't done anything that you or I wouldn't have tried. But he could still be played in a way to make him more than the average guy in the script.
Ian McKellan gives a good performance also. There's some nuance to his character, but even he struggles to add some genuine depth. What they have given his character, a sick wife and a bored son, doesn't really add anything of value in the first episode. I'm hoping they will do something interesting with these elements later.
The rest of the cast are okay in their parts, but again, nothing special.
The direction is ordinary. I never thought I'd say this, but I really wish they'd found some 22 year old director of video clips to helm the thing to give it a sense of style.
Speaking of a lack of style... Why the stock badges? Really? They don't have to be identical to the old badges but for God's sake do something to differentiate them from the local McDonalds. And yes, I know, that was probably the point. But if you have nothing else that stands out, an interesting font, unique clothes or culture, at least make an effort somewhere!
Things I liked... that the numbers go as high as they do. That's good. I like that there are children and schools. I like the old-style cars. The bit with the taxi driver talking about his child and giving her number felt a bit forced, but still works. Oh and the map scene. But beyond all that...
The only bit that evoked a strong postive reaction in me was when Rover appeared. That's when I literally cheered... until I realised that Rover was now gigantic. What the fuck is it with these people, that the only way they can concieve of something being scary is to make it BIG! Is it penis substitution? No, really, I want to know. Because it's really starting to shit me. If you want to make Rover big, that's fine, make it one-and-a-half times bigger than an average human. But go beyond that and we have no scale of reference, it's too big and so becomes just another effect, same as with Gort in the Day the Earth Stood Still remake.
I'm trying to keep an open mind, and I hope it surprises me with the other episodes. Certainly, it's still a much better opening than the Battlestar Galactica miniseries, which I still detest utterly. And that show I went on to become a huge fan of, because it earned my respect.
Come on guys, earn my respect. Show me that you actually watched the original series, rather than heard about it and thought it might be a good idea.