Opening credits

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that earlier today I was fulminating about the fact that “The Equalizer” may be remade as a Russell Crowe movie. No. Edward Woodward is the one and only Equalizer.

Anyway, thinking about “The Equalizer” got me thinking about its memorably creepy and atmospheric opening credit sequence, which I then posted to Facebook as well.

Tonight, that got me thinking about some of my all-time favorite credit sequences. Credit sequences, and TV theme songs, are becoming a lost art, because of network bean-counters with surveys saying that people change the channel during opening credits. But a properly-done opening credit sequence sets the tone for what follows. It’s part of the experience.

This particular collection is by no means complete, and it’s all from hour-long dramas. Maybe I’ll do another post with comedy intros.

The Equalizer:

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Village idiot

I have clucked my tongue in condescension towards those fanboys who actually would have preferred a “Battlestar Galactica” sequel, with the goofy simplicity of the original, to Ron Moore’s dark reimagining. No doubt, they felt betrayed, as a show they considered fun and heroic was turned into a mysterious tale of genocide and survival, sharing nothing with the original but its title, character names, and the bare outline of the premise.

I thought they were foolish. After all, late 70’s “Battlestar Galactica” was silly (which I sort of recognized even at the time), and the SyFy “Battlestar Galactica” was dramatic and often moving. Who could possibly prefer the first to the second?

Now, I think I know a little more about how they feel.

I have been trying to give AMC’s reimagining of “The Prisoner” a chance. There are things about it that are quite good, and I may come to appreciate it more in retrospect. But my first impression is that it’s a little bit too much.

The last episode of the original 1960’s series took a swan dive into a strange, surreal, symbolic experience that frustrated viewers who wanted hard-and-fast answers to the questions raised by the first 16 episodes. (Creator and star Patrick McGoohan had to briefly go into hiding, such was the frustration of the show’s dedicated viewers at the finale.) Whether you loved or hated that last episode, you were invested in it because of the relationship you’d built with Number Six prior to that time.

But in the new, six-hour “Prisoner,” the whole thing is weird and surreal and symbolic, start to finish. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but the plot, symbolism and storytelling are so dense and compressed and convoluted and ever-changing that it’s hard to form any sort of attachment to the characters or story. What’s worse, some of of what turns out to be the key symbolism is stolen, not from the original TV show, but from “The Matrix.”

Jim Caviezel is good, but he’s no Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan projected an innate resolve that made Number Six’s setbacks all the more jarring.

Of course, Ian McKellen is stellar, as I knew he would be, and the miniseries is worth watching if only for him. But on the whole, I … well, I just don’t know what to make of it.

Be seeing you online

Remember last year, when I blithered on and on about how much I loved my boxed DVD set of “The Prisoner”?

Well, AMC — in preparation for the James Caviezel / Ian McKellen remake which they will air later this year — has now put every episode of the original series online. If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it in a while, I suggest you go and check it out.

Better yet, here’s one of the best episodes right here, with Leo “Rumpole of the Bailey” McKern as Number 2:

The score is Caviezel 6, McKellen 2

I linked to some news stories about this earlier, but here, courtesy of the Futon Critic, is the official press release. AMC, ITV and Granada are producing a remake of “The Prisoner” which will star Jim Caviezel as Number 6 and Sir Ian McKellen as Number 2.

I am both curious and wary. I’m not sure there was a need to remake the original, but this could be interesting.

Prisoner geekery

A few weeks ago, while waiting for my boxed set of “The Prisoner” to arrive, I posted a YouTube clip of the opening credits. But I found a better clip. The earlier clip was of the extended opening credits from the very first episode. The new clip is both shorter and longer.

You see, except for that first episode, and a few other episodes with weird formatting, “The Prisoner” had two different credit sequences. There was one sequence which showcased Patrick McGoohan’s name and the title of the series, and it ends with McGoohan’s character being gassed.

The second credit sequence, which I think (but am not sure) aired after the first commercial break, introduced the title and guest cast for that week’s episode. This is the part of the credits which featured the dialogue between Number Six and Number Two. The dialogue would be the same each week, but the voice of Number Two would change, because there was a different one almost every week. Most weeks, you would catch a glimpse of Number Two during the credits, except for one episode where there was a dramatic reason to keep Number Two’s identity a secret.

This YouTube clip shows you the whole thing, both credit sequences, from “The Chimes of Big Ben.” This episode featured Leo McKern as Number Two; he appeared in this episode but then returned for the last two episodes in the series, making him the most-frequently-appearing Number Two. You may remember Mr. McKern better from his years as “Rumpole of the Bailey.”

Be seeing you on AMC

ITV to step in and save ‘Prisoner’ remake

…or, as an even better idea, you could leave it alone and find something new to make into a TV show.

(Although I have to admit, Christopher Eccleston is a great choice for the role. As much as I like David Tennant as The Doctor, I liked Eccleston just a little better.)

UPDATE: I got the link from a Twitter entry by Wil Wheaton (long story). But I now discover it’s a few months old, and the newer stories, like this one, have James Caviezel as Number 6 and Sir Ian McKellen (!!!!) as Number 2.