So as sad as it is, I have seen all 692 episodes of Prisoner and it took me 12 long months where not a lot else happened in my life, I am glad it is over. However, I did enjoy the camp, Australian soap with it’s awful acting, set and story lines.
Prisoner was created by Reg Watson who was also responsible for neighbours and reuses most of the cast. Ian Smith (AKA Harold Bishop) appeared in the series as Ted Hughes (I believe, could be wrong) as well as becoming a script editor for the majority of the 8 years it aired. I do recall also seeing him playing just some random character as well. Budget was obviously low as you can see in the below picture. If you look closely you will notice the outdoor set is a mediocre painting of a street, this had to be pointed out to me but we had a good laugh.
Prisoner ran for an entire 8 years, you can imagine how much shit people can cram into 8 years of Australian soap operas. My personal favorite story line was when a Jewish prisoner, Hannah Geldschmidt arrived at Wentworth after being jailed for assaulting a man that reminded her of an SS guard from when she was in a concentration camp, whilst in wentworth an insane Nazi comes to visit her and tries to escape with her, just excellent programming.
Prisoner’s most famous character is “The Freak” or Joan Ferguson. She is an evil officer who is so evil she has a molesting glove!
She takes on many of the inmates and is involved in many silly story lines before finally getting her comeuppance in the last episode:
Prisoner had a massive following, with the entire 8 years worth being released on DVD, events run by the characters as well as merchandise. It only makes sense in the modern entertainment culture of remakes to make a show based loosely on prisoner, that did ok right?
And so we have Wentworth. It started in 2013 on Soho and involves the main characters of prisoner but in a different form. Bea Smith, because of how the series started with her trying to murder her husband, having never been to jail before or involved in the wrong side of the law is very meek and unlike the Bea that we know from the original series however, as the show progresses the character does adapt to the situation becoming a lot more respectable and stronger, much more like the Bea we know and love. Doreen is black (guess it doesn’t make a difference but thought I would throw it in there) and isn’t half-witted. Franky rather than being a stupid, violent inbred is smoking hot, clever and manipulative.
There is a strange blue like filter on the show which makes it appear almost more grim and unsettling. I don’t like this, it is too noticeable and adds nothing. When you get into the show and don’t think about Prisoner it is good, it is quite violent and gritty as well as having some tense story lines. Season 3 has just started and since I have 10 days off work I suppose I will get through whatever episodes are out.
The one thing I definitely don’t miss about the old Prisoner series is the theme tune, after hearing it 692 times, it makes me want to cry.
Overall Wentworth has nothing on the original Prisoner in my book. It will never gain the following or last as long as Prisoner did because it is just another generic prison show, it doesn’t offer anything new, we have seen this type of thing before with the UK series Bad Girls. Whereas Prisoner was groundbreaking at the time for it’s story lines which were seen as “radical” for their time including homosexuality and rape.
I look forward to seeing how Wentworth progresses and becomes it’s own entity, I think it is a good show stand alone but cannot really be compared to Prisoner Cell Block H.