Thursday, May 04, 2006

Six of One

I'm afraid I shall have to rant. Readers with a delicate constitution may wish to look away now.

Right, so Sky One is going to make a "thrilling reinvention" (media double-talk for "buggered about with version") of "The Prisoner". I must admit at this juncture in the narrative that "The Prisoner" is my favourite television series of all time and it is perhaps understandable therefore that I am somewhat resentful of this new version. But it's not just pedantic snobbishness. Well it is a bit, but there's more to it than that. Firstly there's the new show's executive producer who describes it thus: "The Prisoner is like Pandora's box - it's the ultimate conspiracy thriller." For those who haven't seen it I am here to tell you that conspiracy has precious little to do with it, and calling it a thriller is a bit of a stretch. "The Prisoner" isn't "24 in blazers", it's a bit more subtle than that. And that's the crux of my complaint. Why do we feel the need to take something which is so clearly a product of the culture that created it (the late 1960s) and panel-beat it into a new and unnatural shape merely to please the mores of a 2006 audience? It makes no sense.

The producers at Sky, mistakenly in my view, liken this remake to the recent success of the new "Dr. Who". This is not a helpful comparison, "Dr Who" is a completely different show, one that has already spanned many generations and therefore evolved over time. There are only 17 episodes of "The Prisoner" and they were all made at the same time as one, self-contained series. It just isn't serial material and without giving anything away to those who haven't watched the original - there is a conclusion.

It's not as if there isn't great new TV being made. I haven't seen "Firefly" or "Lost" (I did see and love "Serenity" however) but all reports indicate them to be very good and very much a product of today. There will probably be some whinging pillock on the internets in 30 years complaining that GoogleTV is remaking "24" in order to bring it "up-to-date" and capture a new audience etc. etc. These things are cyclical and we never seem to learn.

Dear Sky, RE this whole "Prisoner" thing; just stop it. It will annoy those who like the original (who are amongst the most obsessive and pedantically anal of cult TV fans) and I don't see how anything properly "Prisoner-ish" can be retained and make it into something that TV execs in 2006 would commission. I fear the worst.

OK, rant over. Thank you for your patience.


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