Prisoner 1Recently Balladeer’s Blog wrapped up an in-depth examination of all 17 episodes of Patrick McGoohan’s pioneering 1967 series The Prisoner. Before Lost, before The X-Files, before Twin Peaks, there was this innovative British series which was equal parts science fiction and existentialism.

PROLOGUE: My look at the themes and issues addressed in the series. CLICK HERE

ARRIVAL – After abruptly resigning from British Intelligence a man is abducted to a futuristic prison city called the Village. This inescapable dystopia is an Orwellian nightmare with bits of Kafka, Ionesco, Pirandello and more than a little bit of Alphaville tossed in for good measure. CLICK HERE 

DANCE OF THE DEAD – The Prisoner becomes more acquainted with the oppressive nature of the Village, including the seemingly mad Head Games to which the Villagekeepers subject the Villagers, their human guinea pigs. CLICK HERE    

THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN – After Number Six meets a female prisoner who knows where the Village is located he puts into motion an elaborate plan for escape. The Village’s Art Festival will serve as cover. NOTE: INCLUDES MY TAKE ON THE ALTERNATE VERSION OF THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN. CLICK HERE

CHECKMATE – A degrading game of chess using human beings as the pieces leads to the Prisoner meeting an Aristocrat fallen from power and now held captive in the Village. The pair gather co-conspirators around them in hopes of a mass escape. CLICK HERE

THE SCHIZOID MAN – The Villagekeepers’ latest plot to make the Prisoner reveal why he resigned from British Intelligence involves a surgically crafted duplicate of our protagonist. This poses a threat to Number Six’s sacred individuality and core identity. CLICK HERE 

LIVING IN HARMONY – The Prisoner finds himself living a bizarre Wild West version of his predicament. He resigns as Sheriff and is abducted to a town called Harmony where the authorities try to learn why he resigned. CLICK HERE

MANY HAPPY RETURNS – When Number Six awakens to find the entire Village deserted except for him it is just the beginning of an ordeal in which he learns the Villagekeepers’ conspiracy runs far deeper than he suspected. CLICK HERE

FREE FOR ALL – The Prisoner becomes caught up in a political campaign to defeat the current Number Two, all the while suspecting the Villagekeepers are playing some grander game. CLICK HERE

THE GENERAL – One of the Villagekeepers’ scientist captives has designed a subliminal propaganda system called Speed Learn as well as a global computer system. The Prisoner and a seeming ally Number Twelve plot to keep the devices out of the hands of the sinister Villagekeepers. CLICK HERE

A. B. AND C. – The Villagekeepers’ latest attempt to learn why Number Six resigned involves the ultimate violation: an electrochemical means of invading the very dreams of their prisoners. CLICK HERE 

THE GIRL WHO WAS DEATH – In a decidedly surreal realm the Prisoner finds himself reliving one of his missions as an Intelligence Agent, a mission which leads him to a village called Witchwood where a woman called Death subjects him to an array of deadly traps. CLICK HERE 

A CHANGE OF MIND – Number Six’s non-conformist ways put him at odds with a powerful new Village organization called the Committee. After continued resistance he is sentenced to experimental brain surgery to make him more docile. CLICK HERE

DO NOT FORSAKE ME OH MY DARLING – The Villagekeepers mentally trap the Prisoner in a stranger’s body to force him to track down a scientist they want abducted to the Village. CLICK HERE

HAMMER INTO ANVIL – Outraged when the current Number Two tortures a woman to death while extracting information from her, the Prisoner mounts a clever Psy-Op of his own to get revenge on the late woman’s behalf. CLICK HERE

IT’S YOUR FUNERAL – Number Six becomes aware of Jammers, a subculture of rebels inspired by his own defiance of the Villagekeepers. A plan to assassinate the current Number Two threatens to bring down deadly punishment on the entire Village. CLICK HERE 

ONCE UPON A TIME – PART ONE OF THE TWO PART SERIES FINALE. The Prisoner and Number Two are locked in the Embryo Room to endure Degree Absolute, an interrogation procedure which only one of them will survive. We at last learn Number Six’s reason for resigning PLUS explore the Penny-Farthing Bicycle symbolism. CLICK HERE

FALL OUT – Madness and death reign supreme in the still-controversial final episode of The Prisoner. CLICK HERE 



© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Filed under Forgotten Television, Prisoner (tv series)


  1. Sidney

    I loved this show! Your comparisons with Kafka and Alphaville and Orwell are spot on!

  2. Emilio

    I could never remember the title of Alphaville! Thank you!

  3. Abe

    Mcgoohan was so far ahead in his thinking!


  5. Kotter

    Awesome show!

  6. Lawrence

    Nice post, especially the link to the song about the Prisoner.

  7. Pirro

    I always loved this show!

  8. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

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