THE PRISONER Volume One
Let’s talk about Six
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!”