Monday, January 5, 2015

Big Finish to revive THE PRISONER in 2016

Number Six is going back to his psychedelic prison in 2016, courtesy of Big Finish Productions.

A four-part serial based on the British cult television series THE PRISONER is set for release next January. According to a press release from the company, fans can expect a full-cast audiodrama with a new score, as well as a story inspired by the plot of the original television series.

THE PRISONER has been required viewing for geeks for several decades, thanks in part to smart, subversive and cryptic storytelling. The series followed the misadventures of a former British secret agent referred to only as Numner Six, played by Patrick McGoohan. Shortly after resigning (for reasons never revealed) he is gassed, and awakes to find himself a prisoner of a mysterious prison that looks like a seaside island resort. For the 17-episode run, McGoohan is forced to match wits with his shadowy jailers while looking for an escape from the island ... before he goes mad.

The new series is set to be written by Big Finish’s co-executive producer, Nicholas Briggs, who also moonlights as the voice of the Daleks (and other monsters) on DOCTOR WHO.

"THE PRISONER has been a great love of mine for many years, ever since my late father
told me all about it back in the 1960s," Briggs said.  "It actually premiered on British TV in 1967 on my sixth birthday! I finally got the chance to see it as a teenager when ITV repeated it on Saturday evenings in 1977. I instantly fell in love with the series and have been avidly re-watching it ever since. The chance to re-imagine the 1967 series for audio drama is a great privilege and I can’t wait to get started — actually, I’ve already started.’

The new audio version of THE PRISONER will be partly based on the storyline of the original series, he said.

"It won’t simply be a slavish retelling of all the original episodes," Briggs said. "But aficionados of the original series will certainly recognize much of what they loved about it. A lot of the familiar iconography will be there, but my aim is to push the boundaries, all the while pursuing McGoohan’s stated agenda of the fight against rampant progress and dehumanization."

Most of the other creative decisions have yet to be announced. Briggs said Big Finish is still searching for an actor to fill McGoohan's shoes.

"For Number Six, we’re looking for someone who can portray that vital determination and anger, creating a lethal package of dynamite charisma," Briggs said. "They need to be compelling and powerful as well as having great enthusiasm for the series."

Big Finish's THE PRISONER is available for pre-order HERE.

This isn't the first time someone has tried to revive Number Six. In 1988, DC Comics published a four-part sequel to THE PRISONER that was written and illustrated by Dean Motter. While it wasn't a huge seller, it was better received than the  television remake starring Jim Caviezel, Ian McKellen and Haley Atwell that aired on AMC.

The most interesting stab at a sequel/revival of THE PRISONER happened at Marvel Comics in 1976. Jack Kirby wrote and illustrated a 17-page story based on the series that was never completed. While THE PRISONER might seem like an odd fit for the company, Marvel was grabbing up every media license it could afford in the mid-1970s, publishing comics based on everything from JOHN CARTER to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Most of these series ran about a year before being cancelled, but the company hit paydirt around this time when they landed the rights to publish a comic series on a little film called STAR WARS. I don't know why Marvel never proceeded with its adaption of THE PRISONER, but it's likely Kirby preferred to move on to to a project that interested him more.
Kirby finished the script and pencils, but the final pages of the story were never inked. Fortunately, you can read the entire story online for free HERE.

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