TV Cream

Pot pourri

“What do you want?” “Information – but not too much and not too joyless”

Jools Holland and Noel Edmonds, yesterdayOne thing that TV Cream has been waiting for almost as long as the release of Let It Be on DVD is a decent book about The Prisoner.

By decent we mean one that is actually readable. Not one that comprises 14 essays each arguing for a different episode transmission order. Not one that is full of lofty analysis seeking to place the show within different and usually mutually opposing schools of philosophy.

And not one that has been stitched together in magpie fashion from back issues of the Six of One fanclub magazine.

No, it has to be one that boasts a laudable amount of new research, one preferably with some interviews, stuff about the production history and ideally some archivery from the time it was first broadcast, but above all one you don’t have to work hard at to get something out of.

Such a book, as far as TV Cream is aware, does not exist. You’d think, over 40 years on, it really should have been done. Perhaps it’s too late anyway, seeing as how so many of the protagonists are now dead.

Andrew Pixley put together liner notes so vast they had to be turned into a book for the Network DVD re-issue the other year. He came close, but not close enough. His is an exhaustively-annotated read, but it is also exhausting.

This isn’t to knock Pixley’s fondness for detail and for quoting from dozens and dozens of source materials (TV Cream is surely the last to claim an authority in either of those fields). It’s more to do with the way he never quite conveys the sheer excitement and intelligence alive in the heart of The Prisoner.

Reading Pixley’s notes is like having to learn about, as Sir Humphrey would say, an inception of a new cataloguing system in the head office of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency that goes utterly and uninterestingly according to plan, not the story of something that is profoundly thrilling and fun.

So the wait goes on.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a nine-minute preview of the Prisoner remake, that one that was supposed to be a Sky TV production, then a joint Sky TV-US production, then a US production, and now a ITV-US production that’s apparently airing in a few months.

As Bob Monkhouse would say, the best bit comes at 3 minutes, 42 seconds.

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0 Comments

  1. BBBeyer

    July 28, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    There’s got be a rich seam to be mined here – remakes that were actually better than the original. Like for example….um….err…help me out.

    I may suggest it as a topic on the Forums.

  2. Chris Hughes

    July 28, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Hmm. I thought that was OK, all told, if you don’t compare it directly with the original (which would be rather unfair), and despite the rather obvious Lost with a bit of The Truman Show thrown in air.

    The bit at 3:42 was great – it was obvious what was coming, but, er, not on that scale.

    And also McKellen as Number Two aka The Man From DelMonte (“He say, we want information!”) looks fine.

    If there are only six episodes, I’d like to see ITV1 strip it across a week at nine o’clock.

  3. Chris Diamond

    August 18, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Looks pretty dull to me, like a cross between Otherworld and Pleasantville without the fun of either. The Village just doesn’t look nearly demented enough. After a while you can imagine someone just kicking back and enjoying the ordered peace and quiet. Not something that could be said about enforced boating in a rainy Italianate setting.

  4. John

    August 27, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Hard to compete with the charming and bonkers 1967 original but they haven’t really tried. It looks humourless, unimaginative and dull. Patrick MacGoohan probably held the original together with his idiosyncratic style but this leading man just suffers and suffers and that’s about it. Why should we care? I agree with Chris that the Village here isn’t demented or alien enough, it looks like Long Beach transplanted to the desert. And Ian McKellen isn’t scary, fine actor though he is.

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