13 November, 2009

The Schizoid Man

So here's the thing.

"Where am I?"
"In the Village."
"What do you want?"
"Whose side are you on?"
"That would be telling.... We want information. Information! INFORMATION!"
"You won't get it."
"By hook or by crook, we will."
"Who are you?"
"The new Number 2."
"Who is Number 1?"
"You are Number 6."
"I am not a number - I am a free man!"

The main point of this post is just because I wanted to share this Basic Instructions comic strip, which was posted yesterday, and which I think is quite hilarious.

I love The Prisoner. I first saw it about eight or so years ago, and have revisited it three or four times since then. It's a brilliant inventive compelling show (and if you've never seen it then you should), but it's also a show that if you just sit down and look at it, it does seem absurd. If you've never seen the show, believe me, everything in this strip is accurate. We really don't know who the main character, Number Six, actually is. We don't know where the Village is, nor which side is holding him, and there are as many theories about what the show actually means as there are people that have actually watched the show. And there really was a (very good) episode where Number Six was hypnotized to believe he was left-handed. I'm a bit bothered by the description of an episode as being about Number Six running for president of the prison - any fan of the show would refer to it as "the Village" never "the prison", and he was actually running for the position of "Number Two" rather than president, but otherwise it's an accurate description of another excellent episode. I've always realised that the final episode was weird (and it undeniably was - Patrick McGoohan famously went on holiday after it aired to escape from angry people demanding to know what exactly happened), but one of the things I love about this strip is that it reminds me that the show as a whole was always pretty weird, and the finale just pushed the weirdness to its (logical?) conclusion.

The remake of the show referred to in the strip actually airs this coming week on an American cable channel, AMC (the same channel that makes the great Mad Men and Breaking Bad), and I'm looking forward to seeing it. I'm not bothered either way about the new Number Six, Jim Caviezel, but having Ian McKellan as Number Two is great casting, as he has that friendly jocular menacing tone perfected. And from what I've seen the new Village does look visually striking and distinctive, although it doesn't come close to the original's. (One of the great things about shooting the original series at Portmerion was that it meant the Village never looked like it was just a set constructed for the show - it was much too big and spectacular for that - yet it still seemed unlike anything we'd seen before.) So I'm excited to see what the remake actually ends up like. I doubt it will come close to the original, but I am hopeful for a few nights of entertaining and fascinating television.

Be seeing you.