Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the 1967 science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click HERE
Episode Title: LIVING IN HARMONY … In the ongoing debate about the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this as the 6th episode.
In this installment the Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan) finds himself living a western version of his current plight. After resigning as a Sheriff and turning in his badge he is captured and knocked out by unknown parties.
When he comes to he discovers he is trapped in a Wild West town called Harmony … And his captors are obsessed with finding out why he resigned as Sheriff.
First-time viewers of this episode are as disoriented as McGoohan’s character. The program starts with this “western” revision of the usual opening sequence in which he is shown resigning from British Intelligence and getting abducted to the prison city called the Village.
It’s easy to underestimate the commitment shown by creative director McGoohan in insisting on this alternate version of the opening credits sequence. I’ll bet NO American television executives of the time would have okayed reshooting the entire opening for just one episode.
“That’d cost too much! Plus the audience will be confused and won’t understand what’s going on!” That would no doubt have been the reaction back then. It’s all just another of the many ways that The Prisoner was ahead of its time. Sometimes it pays to have faith in the intelligence of your audience.