Instead of writing a review for each story, which in truth is not a new story but a re-working of the existing TV series scripts in essence or theme there of. I am merely going to review this on the merits of the stories that are told throughout this rather oddly strange, rather curiously claustrophobic release. To start with the whole thing is immersed in a nostalgic feel of it’s original time of production, that of the late 60’s. It also captures the style of the original cast, a subtle and rather clever Big Finish win by getting Elstob to play the rather enigmatic lead role, that was so imprinted on the subconscious of anyone who has had the pleasure of watching the original series with McGoohan as the lead/writer/producer/inspirational artistic creator of this off the wall surreal never to be really repeated piece of drama. You can tell as well the lavish love that Nicholas Briggs as bestowed on this his pet project. You can also sense that there is a great deal of defiance on his part that the whole thing should work without a pitch or flaw. The stories are as mad as you would come to expect and they are also as inept in the fact that they are all really based around the constant need or want to find out what the hell No.6 is doing in the village, and moreover how the hell does No.6 escape and get back to “reality” or whatever that may well be. This constant and never ending mantra is the consistent background story and chatter that we hear.
Now I am going to be controversial. It’s got a bit boring folks. I do like the spy vs spy theory that the this is built around. I am a massive fan of cult fiction of this era. I think the whole thing is wonderfully presented. But it is the old chestnut for me, that presentation here is outstripping content. The fact is that this regardless of whether you make it an audio translation or re-interpretation, or indeed you go for a re working of the whole thing as did a US TV company and try and recapture the madness that was oozing out of McGoohan head in the heady days of its ITC production, then, you have to have a couple of things going for you in the first place. Unique madness which is what the original had, or you have to take it so far from it’s roots that it makes less sense to the listner or viewer, due to its ridiculous nature, making the whole thing more surreal. I think that a lot of the issue maybe what Big Finish are allowed to do with the material. They are also aware that the fan base are not wanting a mess made of the memory of The Prisoner based on the debacle of the ABC did with it. So there in lies the issue. We are caught in a what I can only describe as one of the best anxiety dreams I have had the privilege of listening too. A time warped, anx strewn nausea of fear, and desperation, the sort of thing that you would expect from a subtitled foreign film on a Sunday night on BBC 2 in Black and White that you just cannot stop watching even though it makes as much sense as washing the grass or cleaning the roof of your house. To that end the reworking of this classic is very good, it is just that I think you cannot make a silk purse out of what is already a very nice Gucci handbag. It doesn’t actually need anything adding to the canon, and not if it is essentially the same. Five stars for Big Finish attempting this, but I fear that we need to quickly draw a line under this whole genre of retro and move on to something that they have more individual control and potential to move the whole thing forward with new material. So for that it has 5 stars, but for listening ability and overall appeal then I have to say it scores a very damp 3 in my opinion.