Explaining the Original with a Remake: The Prisoner 2009

This might just be the most obscure show I’ve ever watched. And it’s the shortest in episode count (shortest in time goes to “Get Smart” 1995, if you were interested). And, like the original series, this one was extremely strange and left the viewer feeling discombobulated and confused. When I began watching, I thought the low episode count and the American production meant that the show would be somewhat skimpy on originality. But as I watched, I saw that while a remake, it was almost a recreation, and it really added alot to the original. So let’s take a look at “The Prisoner” 2009.

“The Prisoner” 2009 aired over three days in November 2009 as a miniseries, running for six hour-long episodes. The series starred Jim Caviezel as Number Six and Ian McKellen (who played the ever-famous Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies) as Number Two, the only TV series I know of that he acted in. The premise is essentially the same as the original: Number Six (who’s real-life name is Michael in this version) resigns from his job at a technology company for belief of unethical activities, and is subsequently taken to the Village, where Number Two tries every possible method to find out what Number Six knows. So how is this remake different than the original?

Number Six can’t remember much of his life as Michael in New York City, and he slowly remembers as the series goes on, experiencing flashbacks, and giving the audience bits and pieces of why he resigned and why Number Two brought him to the Village. Along the way, we find out that Number Two has personal issues of his own, with an overly-curious son and a very ill wife. Additionally, we see that the Village is there, but there’s much more than  just the actual groups of buildings; there’s a desert, a church far away, and an ocean, among other scenic additions to the traditional Village. But that’s not all the remake offered to fill in the blanks that the original series left the audience with.

This remake served as a sort of conspiracy theory to the original, because not only does it go on tangents about the characters to offer explanations of why they’re doing what they’re doing, but it also offers an explanation of the whole series. Number Six remembers when he first met Number Two and his wife, in New York, who were in charge of the technology company that he worked for. They explained to Michael that they were attempting to send some select people into suspended animation, but with machines attached that would send the people to the same dimension of unconsciousness and live together in an ideal society: the Village. Michael didn’t like this idea, so he resigned, but because he knew the secret, he was forced into the Village anyway.

Interestingly enough, Number Two’s son also found this out, and he knew that he had been born in the Village, like many other younger people who were born some years after the Village’s conception. Strangely enough, this meant that he wasn’t real, and he contributed to the destroying of the Village and the restoration of the inhabitants to reality.

So, while stranger and more confusing than the original, in the end, “The Prisoner” 2009 offered explanations and theories to all of the ambiguous plot points within the original series, and thus, it was more of a companion than a remake. What do you think?


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