AMC ups the correctional ante

Significantly more justifiable than my premature ejaculation last week over vague reports of Christopher McQuarrie’s new series for Fox, is my still more recent curiosity about a forthcoming AMC project, which (coincidentally?) touches on a similar theme.  My capricious refractory period notwithstanding, it will be a struggle to contain myself until the November premiere of The prisoner, a remake of a 17-episode British series from the 1960s.

Viral marketing, ca. 1960s
Viral marketing, ca. 1960s

Here’s what Reuters had to say about Persons unknown: “The project revolves around seven strangers who wake up in a deserted town with no recollection of how they got there, and then realize that they are watched by omnipresent security cameras and that there is no escape. To survive, they must come together to solve the puzzle of their lives.”

And here’s how AMC describes The prisoner: “A man, known as “Six,” finds himself inexplicably trapped in “The Village” with no memory of how he arrived. As he explores his environment, he discovers that his fellow inhabitants are identified by number instead of name, have no memory of any prior existence, and are under constant surveillance. Not knowing whom to trust, Six is driven by the need to discover the truth behind The Village, the reason for his being there, and most importantly — how he can escape.”

Since AMC is generally pretty awesome and Fox is nigh unilaterally awful, I’ll go ahead and flip my own script: McQuarrie’ll need more than just an Ajusco Mountain backdrop and a deal with Televisa if he’s going to compete with AMC’s stellar production values.

Anyone else wanna chime in with early guesses as to Six’s identity?  I’m going with none other than Dick Whitman/Don Draper.

— J.C. Freñán

And now, the pain and the pleasure of diegetic time

I’ve been crowing panegyrics for Breaking bad since its debut, so I’ll understand if my unrelenting praise is getting tedious.  But seriously — no exaggeration — it is the best show on television.

Touching, right?

My lower middle class roots have predisposed me to get inordinately invested in such unlikely plot developments as Making One’s Fortune By Selling Exceptionally Pure Crystal Meth.  But at the same time, my liberal arts education has also inclined me to appreciate somewhat more mundane conflicts, like the increasingly elaborate fictions Walter White has to sell to his increasingly unsympathetic wife.  The highlight of last night’s installment, however, had to be Jesse Pinkman’s extended game of peekaboo with his tragically wily customers’ near-autistic child.  The episode’s editor graciously intercut between Pinkman’s disastrous performance of hardness and the palpable discomfort of Walt’s flimsy lies, but nevertheless, that interminable scene in the meth addicts’ den of iniquity reminded me a lot of Jim Jarmusch circa Strangers in paradise.  I kept expecting the story to advance, to cut reassuringly to some narrative plateau further along in diegetic time, but alas, diegetic time was not to be compromised quite so easily.  Gilligan and crew left us to suffer along with Pinkman through a full day and night of tragicomedic mishaps.  “Peekaboo” wasn’t fun or even enjoyable watching, exactly — and neither were the previous two episodes — but it was both rich in terms of narrative development and ballsy in terms of televisual convention.  This is the one show (post-Six feet under) that I wish would never end.

— J.C. Freñán