Saturday, November 21, 2009

No Number 1?

I was playing blog hooky earlier this week, watching the new version of The Prisoner produced for AMC, and then re-watching it.

I was one of the few who watched the original Patrick McGoohan series when it first aired in the US way back when, before I even knew I was joining a “cult.” I still consider it the best television series I ever saw. (And before you ask, no I haven’t seen season three of Dog, The Bounty Hunter, so that didn’t factor in).

I still don’t know what I think about the new version. It did have some outstanding moments. Some stories require sinking in. When I first watched Blade Runner I hated it, but it eventually became one of my favorite movies.

I was disappointed in the ending of the new The Prisoner, but less disappointed the second time through, as the script was extremely subtle and I missed a lot the first time. I was also disappointed in the ending of the original series, for that matter, though it did depict Number 6's triumph over the Village.

It’s too easy to say that the new Prisoner is symbolic of this or that, or the writer had this or that in mind. But there was a notable scene where Number 6 asks a classroom of Village youngsters who is Number 1? He gets this memorized reply from an earnest pupil:
“There is no number 1, there never has been, and there never will be. The concept of the number 2 is an act of humility. The title reminds us all that we are all public servants.”
I’m not saying that the writers of The Prisoner had our current events specifically in mind. Fiction doesn't work that way, or not good fiction. But if that answer doesn’t sound like President Obama all over.

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