Wayward Pines: The Prisoner Updated?

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Coming late to the Wayward Pines party, the first thought after watching the premiere episode is that this show is an updating of the superlative, and before its time, British series The Prisoner, “Who is number one?” Starring the intense and brilliant Irish actor, director and producer Patrick McGoohan. In some ways the only thing missing from Wayward Pines is the big plastic balloon-like ball which used to chase down and capture the odd “inmate” from the village who managed to get past its boundaries and almost escape.

*It should be pointed out that The Prisoner was remade in 2009 and released as a six episode mini-series. It was met with a mixed critical reception, much like the original 1960s series.*

This Fox series is not just The Prisoner revisited though. There are hints of Twin Peaks, American Horror Story and Cape Wrath, aka Meadowlands in the US throughout the show’s plot and if one looks hard enough, more off-beat and odd television show’s may be spotted like Eureka or even at a stretch The Stepford Wives film.

Of course, Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke is this show’s version of Number Six. In the 1960s show, the “agent” is someone who has opted to get out of the system. His “defection,” which is in fact a resignation, is not allowed; hence his incarceration in the quaint yet disturbing village. As far as we know Burke has not tried to leave his organization. He has had some sort of meltdown after failing to stop a bombing where over 600 innocent people died. His Secret Service Agent is mired in a world of guilt, regret and pathos.

A car accident leaves him injured and disoriented in the “town” (village) of Wayward Pines. As he stumbles about, after checking himself out of the deserted hospital, it becomes apparent that this place is not what it seems. By the end of the show, he has learned that the area is surrounded by a tall, seemingly never ending, electric fence with signs that warn death is imminent if the boundary is crossed.

As this first episode shows, Burke’s life is pretty screwed up from the word go. His guilt, from failing to stop the bomber and his affair with a partner who is thought to be missing has consumed him. Discovering that she is in Wayward Pines, along with the dead tortured Secret Service agent who is also missing, Burke learns that this town is a prison where people listen to what is happening and questioning things can be fatal.

“There are no crickets in Wayward Pines,” says the back of a bar bill that Juliette Lewis’ character, Beverly, hands Ethan in the Biergarten. Of course the same slip of paper has an address where he finds the other missing agent dead and decomposing. Later in the episode, Burke hears crickets and leans towards the foliage where the sound is emanating. He discovers a metal box and this is responsible for the cricket “sound effects.”

After leaving the hospital Burke tries to call home twice and leaves messages for his wife. Away from the town, the Secret Service tell Theresa Burke (Shannyn Sossamon) that her husband is missing and that there was no sign that he was even in the car at the scene of the accident. By the end of the show Mrs. Burke checks the answer machine and it holds no messages from her husband.

Thus far Wayward Pines is four episodes into its first season and looks very promising. Binge watching will allow the viewer to catch up on events and see just how strange things may turn out. The cast includes the superb Juliette Lewis and English actor Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Hunger Games) and Terence Howard (Iron Man, Empire) and of course Matt Dillon as Burke.

Show creator Chad Hodge has come up with an interesting show that appears to borrow from a few existing examples of the weird and wonderful. Producer M. Night Shyamalan directed this first episode and has obviously set the tone for the rest of the first season, which may still turn into an updating of The Prisoner. Time will tell whether this new show finds the audience it deserves.

7 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Jennifer Lopez in Therapy

Jennifer Lopez in Therapy

Jennifer Lopez has done much more than write her book True Love she has admitted that she is in therapy. Fans of Jenny of the Block need not be too concerned, however. According to J-Lo it is in an effort to get down and dirty with herself, and not in an inappropriate way either. Apparently the multi-talented diva, actress, singer, songwriter, dancer, writer, producer and fashion designer opens up in her recent book and talks of many things, not least of which is how her tendency to travel with a crowd that, in the past, put so much pressure on her personal relationships.

Masterchef Junior Hugs and Tears and Incredible Talent

Masterchef Junior Hugs and Tears and Incredible Talent

The idea of a cookery program relying upon the culinary talents of children under the age of 14 should strike fear in the heart of most parents, add in the incredible Gordon Ramsay with his well known four letter rants and concern for these kids rises, but tonight’s competition, which consisted of tears and hugs, erased the worry that this whole Masterchef Junior thing was a bad idea. These 16 children possessed a calm and poise in front of the camera and in the kitchen that was impressive to the nth degree. Ages ranging from 8 to 13, the kids were anything but, whilst wielding sharp knives, mixing complex herbs and spices and cooking delightful looking dishes that, according to Gordon and his two “assistants” tasted as good as they looked.

Gotham: Shooting Lessons Required

Gotham: Shooting Lessons Required

The latest episode of Gotham: Penguin’s Umbrella reveals a great many things behind the scenes in the hometown of Bruce Wayne, not least of which being that the entire police department requires shooting lessons. It also shows what forces are behind what players. Jim Gordon has a lot of support from Barbara Keen, and later his partner Harvey Bullock proves that he also supports his partner. Granted Gordon has more than a little support from Bruce Wayne and his “trusted” manservant Alfred. In terms of whom is behind who by the time the episode ends, Penguin has some surprising support, Don Falcone.

NBC Axes Bad Judge and A to Z

NBC Axes Bad Judge and A to Z

Five episodes into both Bad Judge and A to Z and NBC has made the decision to axe both shows, although they will allow them to finish out their seasons. This swift move has puzzled many fans of the latter show as overall the ratings have been pretty good for the romantic comedy. Just looking at IMDb alone, the Ben Feldman, Cristin Milioti “couple comedy” scores an impressive 7.3 in terms of critical reviews of the show. Bad Judge, the Kate Walsh vehicle has a smaller score, 5.6 to be exact, but this numerical value was going up, with the last episode reaching 6.6.

Gracepoint AKA Broadchurch American Style Continues

Gracepoint AKA Broadchurch American Style Continues

Gracepoint, aka Broadchurch American style continues its frame by frame replication of the original ITV drama with David Tennant as the lead detective with issues in both. Some things are different, despite the fact that overall the show is the same. Tennant’s “problem” in the British version is handled by pills, in the U.S. show he has a hypodermic needle which he shakily stabs into his thigh. While this may look more dramatic, or more realistic from an American point of view, it also makes it seem that Emmett Carver could suffer from diabetes rather than a mental issue, which the other show hints at with a bit more finesse.

Gracepoint or Broadchurch: A British Mystery by Any Name

Gracepoint or Broadchurch: A British Mystery by Any Name

Gracepoint began on FOX Thursday after quite a good bit of buildup and it turns out to be a British mystery, literally as it is a frame by frame re-shooting of Broadchurch, the 2013 ITV award-winning television show in England; while the locale of the story has changed, by any name the series is essentially the ITV drama sans tea and scones. There are some things that have not been altered in this move across the “big pond.” The former Doctor Who actor David Tennant plays the exact same character but with a significant name change, Hardy in the ITV drama and Carver in the FOX version.