Welcome back to the Village! The Prisoner, a remake of the 1960s spy-surreal show, is a six-part miniseries with a new take on the individual struggling against conformity. Sadly, newer isn't better.

The person known as Number Six (James Caviezel) wakes up in the desert with no idea how he got there. After rescuing an old man (who says something cryptic and then dies), Six wanders into the Village. This place is borderline surreal: homes are all triangular, everyone has a number for a name, the roads and ground are all sand, conformity and paranoia are the norms, there is nothing but desert around the Village, and no one beleives in a world outside of the Village. No one but Six, who has flashbacks to his life in New York.

Six's nemesis is Number Two (Ian McKellen), the leader/ruler of the Village who lives in a palace, struts around in a white suit, carries a hand grenade, and seems avuncular when happy and ruthless when crossed. His goal seems to be to get Six to accept life in the Village.

If Six has enemies, he also has allies. The attractive doctor 313 (Ruth Wilson) has romantic feelings for Six and is divided between wanting him to accept life in the Village and helping him escape. (She also appears in Six's flashbacks to his life in New York.) 147 (Lennie James) is a cabbie who quickly becomes Six's friend. And Number Two's rebellious teenage son 11-12 (Jamie Campbell Bower) is dissatisfied with life in the Village.

While the original Prisoner alternated between James Bond-type adventure and psychedelic weirdness, this new version seems mired in pretentiousness. Dramatic moments are filled with slow motion, while abrupt camera cuts and noises are jarring and annoying. The mystery behind Six's resignation is never explained in the original, yet it's told in the second episode of the new version. (Six also spray-paints it on a glass wall.) Numerous comments are meant to seem profound ("a man with nothing to hide is a man with nothing to find") but wind up as just flashy.

The leads in The Prisoner also fall flat: one-dimensional characters that just aren't interesting. I suppose it's to the show's credit that it wraps up the storylines in the finale, instead of keeping it going, but even the resolution is dull. When it comes to this version of The Prisoner stay away from the Village.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

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