Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rant #135: Leaving Well Enough Alone With Old TV Shows

Why, oh why, has Hollywood not learned its lesson yet?

Why does the industry constantly rehash old movies and TV shows and try to make them new again?

The latest attempt at "contemporizing" a classic TV show just ended its short run, thank goodness.

"The Prisoner" was an update of the classic 1960s British TV series that came over to these shores on CBS as a replacement for "The Jackie Gleason Show" during the summer months.

Patrick McGoohan's original show, which had elements of George Orwell's "1984" mixed in with the then current psychedelia, was actually a continuation of his previous "Secret Agent" (or in Europe, "Danger Man") series. It finds the main character dumped into a world that he doesn't understand, has no idea how he got there, and, of course, wants to leave.

But he can't.

McGoohan was tight-lipped up to his recent death about the whys and wherefores of the series and its theme--including who was the character No. 1--but in the late 1960s, it resonated with viewers, and it stands as one of the great series of that era.

Now, 40 years later, we have the remake, the updating, or whatever you want to call it.

I just call it bad.

Sure, the familiar elements were there: the numbers used instead of names, the questions about why the main character is where he is, and yes, that orb, or ball, or whatever it is, that makes sure that people don't ask too many questions.

Well, even if that sphere is chasing me, I have to ask the question--why?

The original 17 hours of programs captured my and other viewers' imaginations; the update simply was bad, tedious television, a remake of a show that should have never been touched by human hands again.

They tried to expand the plot a bit with the new show, made the main character an American who was estranged from an information-gathering company, used a multi-racial, international cast, put in a few love interests (the mysterious blind woman--I don't know the actress' name, but she is a total knockout), and added the always good Ian McKellan to the cast as No. 2--but it all fell apart by the third episode.

It was a boring, muddled mess, which the original was not.

Why does Hollywood continue to remake their own classics? Although I did not watch the original V, I know that it has been redone, and is currently being broadcast.


Is Hollywood so devoid of original ideas that they have to unearth "old" ones?

Or in this "enlightened" world, do they think they can do the classic original better?

I don't know the reason, but I will tell you, the newest incarnation of "The Prisoner" did not take me captive at all.


  1. I think a lot of it is the ultimate fanwank,people who were "fans" of the original and have made up stories to make it "better" and so when they get into power and can sell a remake to a studio or network they let their fanwank/pc imagination run wild.
    But we have the originals and an ignore the remakes.
    I have avoided the Prisoner remake and the V one, i want something new from Hollywood.

  2. The original Prisoner was such a perfect show that I can't see how they actually sold the new concept to anyone. Notice that this was shown on American Movie Classics (AMC), which probably tells you more about the ability of the producer to get this show on the air than anything I can say. In addition, the two-hour part one was shown directly opposite Sunday Night Football, which also tells you a lot about the confidence that AMC had in the project--remember, the original was shown on CBS in the summer. I think AMC knew it had a bomb on its hands, but contractually, they had to go with it.

  3. I think you're right, AMC pretty much dumped it and showed all 6 parts in 3 days, i guess they'll put a dvd out soon and hope the curious will buy it.

  4. I know that I won't. Take it from me, this series will be a footnote that will be long forgotten; the original series is still being talked about and discussed 40 years later.



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