That’s what I’m thinking after watching the first two hours of AMC’s remake of “The Prisoner.” That, along with “Couldn’t I have found a better way to waste two hours?”
I’m really disappointed. I’ve never seen the original series, but I’ve always heard raves about it. Its themes of alienation, identity, free will and paranoia served as inspiration for great modern series: “Twin Peaks,” “The X-Files,” “Alias,” “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactcica,” to name a few. But in this reimagining, those themes – or any coherent messages, really – are so muddied that they’re impossible to grasp ahold of.
“The Prisoner” fails on so many levels. Disjointed, choppy editing destroys the flow. I’m all for nonlinear, challenging storytelling, but this is just a jumble and more often than not makes no sense. The acting isn’t great – Jim Caviezel gives too many blank looks, and his one-note sense of desperation never really comes across as compelling. And speaking of compelling, the plot simply isn’t. Slow and plodding, meandering here and there but never following potentially interesting storylines for too long, it’s absolutely maddening. Characters have no depth, and at the end, I found myself not caring about anyone. Overall, it’s just not that interesting.
It’s too bad. The post 9/11 world has breathed new life into allegorical storytelling on TV. The world we once knew is not the same. Paranoia, terrorism, totalitarianism, surveillance and evil, all-powerful corporations are rich subjects to mine. But where it could have been a politically charged, thought-provoking statement on freedom, “The Prisoner”gives us a rambling, frustrating mess.
With “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” AMC made a name for itself by creating the smartest series on TV. “The Prisoner” shows that the network isn’t perfect.