“The Prisoner” Is Coming Back

by Irma Arkus

My dad is pretty cool. In fact, dad happens to be one of the coolest, most awesome men on the planet, and I am proud to be related to him, but there is the Ian McKellen question…I have to admit that secretly, sometimes even I, the lucky parented child, wish I were an illegitimate child of Ian McKellen.

He left an impression on me in Richard III (1995), left me breathless with Gods and Monsters (1998), made me fall in love with Gandalf, and was mesmerising as Magneto.

What can I say? Just when ol’ Ian McKellan could not get any cooler, he decides to take the role of Number Two, in The Prisoner reboot.

When I just started doing the HiSciFi show, everyone called me to ask if I had watched The Prisoner. The original show, starring Patrick McGoohan as Number Six, who, ironically was the first choice for Jackson’s Gandalf, was a breathtaking adventure, full of intrigue, mystery, and sophisticated technology, much of which we are graced by today.

Number Six awoke after his submittal of resignation to secret service, in a cosy bedroom of a “village.” The minute village, a la Creme Gitmo, with its sophisticated traps was meant to break him and procure information hidden within the walls of his mind. All he could think of though, was how to escape…and so the games begin.

The intricate iconic details of the show have left marks for generations. Geek boys panting over shiny gadgety things, while psychological tension was building around our poor Number Six.

The show that can only be called remarkably Orwellian, our leading man may live in comfort, but is being constantly watched and controlled by the forces that hold him captive. He is a pet, a man without freedom.

In the original show, Number Two is the chief administrator, a head honcho if you may, of the Village. And happens to be played by multiple actors.

Now the show has gotten a reboot. And Ian McKellan is its heart and soul. McKellan, together with Jim Caviezel (who would regularly give me the creeps over that whole Jesus snuff film, if it weren’t for the recent action-sci-fi coolness, Outlander), are part of the 6-part miniseries remake.

The show has perhaps more relevance today than every before (boy, we say that all the time), especially in its country of birth, the UK. We are confronted with constant surveillance and monitoring, our freedoms and liberties are being subverted every day, and we live in a culture of manufactured fears and paranoias. UK itself serves these days as some kind of a consummate cosmopolitan lab, an island, or a Village, in which technologies are used to test the human limitations of tolerance to control and manipulation. Or at least, that’s how it sometimes looks from the other side of the glass.

The first glimpse of the poster has leaked, so feast your eyes on this sucker.

I would also encourage everyone to watch the original, in anticipation of seeing the new version of the show. It has been originally broadcast in 1960s and has but mere 17 episodes. Enjoy!