Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A behind-the-scenes look at AMC's take on "The Prisoner"

It would be good enough that AMC is simply ponying up for a third (and presumably fourth and fifth) season of "Mad Men" for this summer, but I'm also becoming more and more confident that what's coming with it - a six-episode remake of "The Prisoner" - will also far from completely suck.

On its surface, the idea hardly seems like a good one. The original series, starring and co-created by the recently late Patrick McGoohan as Number Six, was, well, extremely British (so is "Absolutely Fabulous" in a more than slightly different way, but that one's coming to U.S. TV next fall too, unfortunately.)

For anyone who's never seen it, McGoohan played a former secret agent working for the British during the Cold War who resigns on the first episode and is then kidnapped and held hostage in an isolated spot known only as the Village. In the original series, he's grilled by a series of interrogators known collectively as Number Two, even though they were played by a different person for each episode.

And therein comes the first big change for AMC's model: Number Two will be played for all six episodes by Sir Ian McKellen (coincidentally enough, I was just watching Sir Ian's explanation of his acting technique last night on "Extras": "How did I know where to stand? They told me." Exceptionally funny.) Number Six will be played by none other than Jesus himself, a k a Jim Caveizel.

Despite these modifications, I'm still fairly confident this will be good after watching this video from AMC, which shows that Namibia serves as the setting for The Village and then the crew moved onto Cape Town (rough life!) for the rest of the shoot. As long as this doesn't turn into an exercise in torture (why is seeing someone getting tortured considered entertaining? I'll never understand it, but I digress ...), this should make for a fantastic summertime diversion. Enjoy the video, and to watch all 17 episodes of the original series, courtesy of AMC, click here (though every time I have tried so far it has crashed my Firefox.)

David Simon's "Treme" rapidly taking shape

I probably should have led with this news about "Treme," the new HBO pilot from "The Wire" creator David Simon, especially since it is now set to star one of my favorite actors.

The series about musicians in New Orleans had already attracted two members of "The Law" from "The Wire" (more on that in a second), and now Steve Zahn and Kim Dickens have also signed on. Zahn (who will always be known to me as Glenn Michaels) will play Davis Rogan, a street dancer, local radio DJ, band member and New Orleans native with "anger issues" ( I can see that in my mind already). Dickens (Matt Saracen's mom on the current [and still sensational] season of "Friday Night Lights" but also Jeanie Stubbs on "Deadwood") will play a chef who has opened her own restaurant.

Joining this duo will be easily two of my favorite "Wire" vets, "Bunk" Moreland and Lester Freamon. Wendell Pierce, a New Orleans native, will play a jazz musician who's fallen on hard times after Katrina and who still has a soft spot for his ex-wife, played by "CSI Miami" star Khandi Alexander. Even better, Clarke Peters will be playing a Mardi Gras Indian chief who's trying to bring the members of his tribe back to the city.

So far this is only being put together as a pilot, but I can't imagine HBO wouldn't take anything short of at least a full season from Simon, especially with this cast behind it. I cancelled my HBO after the end of the first season of "True Blood," but I'll definitely re-up if and when this ever really comes together. Peace out.


Ashok said...

I watched one episode of "Tru Blood" at a friend's place and was horrified by the acting. I do not know whether is it me, but even I was able to spot the bad accent of Anna Paquin and some others too :-).

Anyways, I have posted the best films of 2008. Check it out when you find time.

Reel Fanatic said...

I certainly will, Ashok ... And I'm with you on the acting, but I guess I have a very low standard when it comes to campy horror stuff, because I still found "True Blood" enjoyable ... It's funny you mention accents, because they indeed played a big part in the identity of first season's "big bad"

Bob said...

I hope "The Prisoner" is good. The original is one of my all-time favorite TV shows (even if the finale still leaves me scratching my head). I had to laugh when Caviezel referred to McKellen as "Sir Ian."
"Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian, action. WIZARD! YOU SHALL NOT PASS! Cut. Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian." And when he says, "How did I know where to stand? People told me," I lose it every single time.

Reel Fanatic said...

I hadn't seen "Extras" until a friend recently passed it to me, Bob, and I'm ashamed that I managed to miss it for so long .. My favorite episode would have to be the one with Harry Potter in which our hero kicks the Down Syndrome kid out of the restaurant and then manages to kick a dwarf by the end .. priceless!

Mercurie said...

Well, when I heard that The Prisoner was being remade, I was a bit concerned. It ranks within my top five favourite shows of all time. But after seeing the video I am not quite so concerned. It will be different (which is a good thing), but I don't think it will suck!