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

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Running for the border, in reverse

It’s the height of foolishness to get excited about a new Fox series, but can you really blame me this time?  Christopher McQuarrie — best known for writing The usual suspects — has co-created Persons unknown, and is currently executive producing a 13-episode run, which I expect to begin airing this fall. Truth be told, McQuarrie’s involvement alone would have been enough to get me to watch: if he can manage to give Ryan Philippe a certain dirty, macho appeal, I’m willing to give any McQuarrie project a fair shot, even if it’s going to be relegated to the network with the worst track history in TubaTV’s collective memory.

Sweetening the deal, though, is the curious fact that Persons unknown has been filming less than an hour away from TubaTV’s Latin American office, in the Ajusco Mountain region south of Mexico City.  I’m not thrilled that the show is being co-produced with Televisa — the Mexican analog of Fox, only ickier, if you can imagine — but in all honesty the partnership can only help the otherwise desolate Mexican airwaves.  [I recently spoke with the main stylist on Mexico’s other notable (read:failed) attempt at moving beyond the telenovela format, and she confirmed my suspicions: the second season of Capadocia is going to be much, much shoddier than the first.  Apparently — and understandably — the series’s budget has been slashed, and to make matters worse, its writers have abandoned the entire groundwork they laid in the first season, offering us instead a weak, watery prequel: the life and times of Bambi, prior to her incarceration.  Do they not realize that by the end of the first season, the show’s appeal was resting entirely on Dolores Paradis’s impressive underage décolletage?]

So, viva NAFTA?

In related news, burnout Fox alum Paul Sheuring might be competing with McQuarrie on the big screen, as both appear to be working on remakes of the German film Das experiment.  Personally, I’d favor a McQuarrie effort by a mile, since Sheuring spent a good two and a half seasons beating his own Prison break horse after it had expired.

— J.C. Freñán