The Prisoner

Life is too short to waste time on pointless remakes.

The Prisoner
ITV1, Saturdays, 9.30pm

The ITV remake of The Prisoner is - if you can imagine such a thing - the bastard child of Lost and an Arizona retirement community, the kind where everyone plays golf. Basically, it's a load of incomprehensible drivel, but the weather is always sunny and there is an abundance of palm trees. Admittedly, it took a while for this to dawn on me.

When the thing started, I guessed we were in Jordan or possibly Syria. There were lots of sand dunes and boulders and, on the horizon, the shimmering, ghostly outline of what looked like the twin towers; some poor fool had obviously decided to give The Prisoner an al-Qaeda twist. But then Six (aka the Prisoner) finally stumbled into the Village, all thirsty and confused, and I couldn't help but notice that most of its inhabitants looked like they were on Prozac and had voted for John McCain. Plus - and this is the clincher - the only young person who talked to him normally was a nurse. Either way, Portmeirion, Wales, this ain't - which is a shame.

I'm not sure where the writer, Bill Gallagher, is going with the plot, but so far it's all just as it was in Patrick McGoohan's day. Six (Jim Caviezel) has arrived at the Village with a vague memory of having quit his job and a sense that something is, er, wrong, on account of the fact that in this place people do not have names, but numbers. When he tries to leave, the sand dunes defeat him.

Two (Ian McKellen), who is the Village's sinister big cheese, tells him that he is imagining things: no one is a prisoner on account of the fact that there is nowhere else but the Village for them to go. This - the palm trees, the diners, the little red cars that are straight out of Noddy - is all there is and he should just enjoy it. I must say, I agree with Two on this one. The accommodation in the Village is retro-chic and the people who live there obviously have a discount at an excellent branch of Ralph Lauren. Everything is, as they say, totally laid on. Six should just chillax and treat the whole thing like a mini-break. He could work on his tan.

Why do broadcasters persist in exhuming the corpses of these long-dead TV series? Wouldn't they rather work on original ideas than root around in the stinking graves of shows - Survivors, Reggie Perrin - that were only half alive in the first place? These are questions I can't answer. The Prisoner - I mean the original series - is one of the most over-rated shows ever made; you need to be pissed or on drugs to see it as anything other than a wacky period piece. This version is just as barmy, but I can't think that booze or pills would help, really, because it's also boring both to listen to and look at.

So far, I have worked out that the breath-freshening spray used by a deceased waitress called 554 might just be significant. Also, that Two likes cherry cake, and in a creepy, fetishistic sort of a way: he pulls the fruit from it between two claw-like fingers, as if he were dragging snails from a shell. Eew.

Oh, yes, and I think the pouting, callow youth who looks like he is in an ad for something by Calvin Klein - what will the store manager at Ralph Lauren have to say about this? - might turn out to be an unexpected ally for Six, if not actually his boyfriend (the gorgeous Hayley Atwell awaits Six back in New York). But to be honest, I couldn't care less about any of these things. What a muddle. Life is too short to tune into The Prisoner once, let alone twice.

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.