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.