Let’s talk about Six

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 276 min­utes

Pub­lisher Big Fin­ish

Pa­trick McGoohan’s bril­liant ’ 60s TV se­ries was one un­like any other. It could never be sat­is­fac­to­rily re­made, as was dis­as­trously demon­strated on tele­vi­sion in 2009. This au­dio box set fur­ther demon­strates why it should be left alone.

It fea­tures four sto­ries, three of which are rough in­ter­pre­ta­tions of TV orig­i­nals, one that’s brand new. “De­par­ture And Ar­rival”, a re­make of the first episode, im­me­di­ately sets alarm bells ring­ing: this Num­ber Six never keeps his trap shut. McGoohan’s tac­i­turn de­meanour was an es­sen­tial part of the orig­i­nal – here, the de­mands of an au­dio pro­duc­tion mean that Num­ber Six is for­ever rab­bit­ing, and since Mark El­stob plays Num­ber Six like a man who has per­pet­u­ally stubbed his toe, this means an aw­ful lot of SHOUT­ING. It’s weari­some and ir­ri­tat­ing.

That’s far from the only an­noy­ing thing. Worst is Num­ber Six’s near- com­pan­ion for the first three episodes, Num­ber Nine ( Sara Pow­ell). The char­ac­ter de­fies sense and logic: there’s no way the Vil­lage’s mas­ters would al­low her to stay around, and giv­ing Num­ber Six a pal de­stroys one of his cen­tral facets: that he’s a lone wolf. But this is a Num­ber Six who, when he’s not yelling, weeps.

Reimag­in­ing “The Schizoid Man” is a strange idea, con­sid­er­ing that it’s a story that fea­tures the lead in a twin part, and there­fore means he’s con­tin­u­ally talk­ing to him­self. Who’s who? New story “Your Beau­ti­ful Vil­lage” is weak, mak­ing ex­ten­sive use of muf­fling ef­fects that make it sound like your speak­ers have been dropped in the bath. “The Chimes Of Big Ben” is prob­a­bly the best of the bunch.

We’re also de­prived of the su­perb orig­i­nal mu­sic, and in­stead get lit­tle frag­ments of sounda­like tunes. It’s en­er­vat­ing. An­other mis­step is the length of the sto­ries – two are 60 min­utes, two a pun­ish­ing 78 min­utes. That’s a long time to lis­ten to an an­gry man shout­ing; us Prisoner fans should be the an­gry ones. Rus­sell Lewin

The sto­ries are sup­ple­mented by Mak­ing Of “By Hook Or By Crook”, which is also a whop­ping 75+ min­utes long.

“I hope this bus to the Vil­lage ar­rives soon!”

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