Socialist Worker

The Prisoner and V are caught in the past

by Katherine Branney
Issue No. 2199

The recent reimagining of Battlestar Galactica has a lot to answer for. It took its basis from a pretty naff late-1970s TV series but was a brilliant and highly successful meditation on the “war on terror”.

Its popularity has meant that TV studios are looking for other well-remembered shows from history to “reimagine” for a new audience. The Prisoner and V are the latest examples of this.

The Prisoner is based on the 1960s British show, in which Patrick McGoohan was unforgettable as Number Six. After resigning from his government job he had been kidnapped and trapped in the “Village” where everyone was known by numbers not names.

It was a surreal and absorbing look at state paranoia, the power of the mind and the need for freedom.

The remake stars Ian McKellan as Number Two, the person who runs the Village, which is now a desert holiday camp rather than the tortured architecture of Portmeirion. No one remembers their past and they all believe that the Village is all that there is.

Jim Calvaziel is the new Number Six. He has resigned from his job at a CCTV company and finds himself in the Village. He is desperate to escape. While it’s interesting, it isn’t a patch on the original and is essentially a pointless remake.

V doesn’t even seem to be a “reimagining” of the original 1980s US show. It is still about seemingly peaceful aliens arriving on earth with the real aim of dominating and destroying the human race.

While they look like humans they are in fact lizards underneath their fake skins. A resistance is born to stop humanity sleepwalking to destruction.

V is a call not to trust anyone from outside your nation or people. This is a return to the xenophobic US science fiction of the past. And it’s very slow and dull too.

The Prisoner
ITV1, Saturdays 9pm

SyFy, Tuesdays 10pm

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 27 Apr 2010, 18:51 BST
Issue No. 2199
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.