Tag Archives: forgotten television

THE PRISONER: THE GIRL WHO WAS DEATH

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

girl who was death with schnippsAs much as I love The Prisoner there is no denying that even at a mere 17 episodes the series had a few duds. In my opinion there are three installments that could be eliminated completely because they do not serve the overall premise or don’t serve it well.

Here is the first of those three with my reasons for disliking it PLUS my take on how I feel it could have been changed to fit in more with the series as a whole –

The Girl Who Was DeathTHE GIRL WHO WAS DEATH – Talk about burying the lede! This episode completely glosses over the horrifying revelation that there are children in the Village. That’s right, we learn that there are CHILDREN in the Village!

At best those children would be there as hostages to ensure that their parents cooperate with the sinister Villagekeepers. At worst they would be there as human guinea pigs in perverse child mind-control experiments run by those Villagekeepers. The presence of children in the nightmarish prison city called the Village carries with it ramifications that are in no way pleasant. Continue reading

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GHOSTWATCH (1992): FILM REVIEW

Ghostwatch 1992GHOSTWATCH (1992) – This was a British made for t.v. movie that aired on Halloween Night in 1992. Ghostwatch is a nice – albeit boring – little novelty item for the way it anticipated the paranormal “reality” (LMAO) shows of today.

The telefilm also can’t help but put viewers in mind of the Paranormal Activity series and countless other Found Footage horror movies. Ghostwatch involves much older technology of course but for once, since the make-believe t.v. crew is filming their investigation of a haunted house, it MAKES SENSE for people to be filming everything.  

The casting for this production was well-done in that it contains virtually NO recognizable faces. Usually when watching BBC items from back then viewers can’t help but play Spot the Doctor Who/ Sherlock Holmes/ British Murder Mysteries Actor. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: A. B. AND C.

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 

A. B. and C.Episode Title: A. B. AND C. … In the ongoing debate about the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this as the 10th episode.

As this episode begins we are still in the period of days with the same Number Two (Colin Gordon) as last time serving his time as a rotating executive of the Village. 

The Story: A very nervous Number Two is in one of the Village’s concealed laboratories with Number 14, a blonde female scientist. (If you’ve seen the Simpsons episode parodying The Prisoner she’s the blonde lady to whom the bald Village Supervisor says “Tell me again why you thought a big balloon would stop people from escaping” and she replies “Shut up! THAT’S why!”)

Be Seeing YouThis Number Two is on very thin ice with the Board after the way he failed to stop the Prisoner and the traitorous Number Twelve from sabotaging two of the most crucial devices advancing the Villagekeepers’ conspiracy. Frequently chugging milk for his ulcer, he anxiously hopes to recover some favor and credibility by at last maneuvering Number Six into admitting why he resigned from British Intelligence. 

(For newbies to The Prisoner I’ll point out that if the Villagekeepers succeed at making Number Six admit why he resigned it will symbolize his surrender to them and recognition of their authority over him, like agreeing that “2+2=5” in Orwell’s 1984 symbolized surrender to The Powers That Be.) 

Number 14Dialogue makes it clear that Number Two is forcing Number Fourteen to proceed more quickly than she would like onto a human subject for her combined drug & electronic method of monitoring dreams of sleeping primates. As always on The Prisoner these reminders that humans are basically animals, too, serve like Rousseau’s “Noble Savage” metaphor for humanity.  Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: THE GENERAL

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 

The GeneralEpisode Title: THE GENERAL … In the ongoing debate about the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this as the 9th episode.

This time around viewers learn the truth about the mysterious “General” that the Villagekeepers referred to back in The Schizoid Man.

As another sign of how The Prisoner is even more relevant here in the 21st Century this episode deals with totalitarian distortion of the educational system, “official” history and access to information via computers/ the internet. Today we see techno-fascists like Mark Zuckerberg plus his fellow Democrats at Google, Wikipedia, Twitter and other social media allying themselves with just one political party.

Number SixCentralizing and monopolizing the dissemination of information for ugly partisan purposes and in order to police the free exchange of ideas has become nightmarishly easy for those so inclined. Freedom of expression is becoming limited to those who mindlessly agree with the Democrat Party’s dogma. All other opinions are increasingly banned as “hatred” or “violations of community standards.”      

The Story:   Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: MANY HAPPY RETURNS

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 

Many Happy ReturnsEpisode Title: MANY HAPPY RETURNS … In the ongoing debate about the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this as the 7th episode.

This is the most relentlessly downbeat installment of The Prisoner saga.

The Story: The Prisoner wakes up on his own, rather than being awakened by the usual syrupy-sweet broadcast of the Village’s “good morning” message. That is odd, but what is odder is the way that there is no running water as our protagonist discovers when he tries to take his morning shower.

Many Happy Returns 2Number Six gets dressed and ventures outside but finds the entire prison-city deserted. The automatic doors don’t work either, because all the power is out, but the doors can be pushed open since they are not locking like they usually do.

Our hero has access to all of the food and bottled water of the Village’s stores so he is in no immediate danger. In a well-rendered moment of irony this most anti-social of characters actually seems to wistfully miss a little human contact after awhile.    Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: CHECKMATE

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 

CheckmateEpisode Title: CHECKMATE … In the ongoing debate about the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this as the 4th in the series.

Peter Wyngarde portrays this episode’s Number Two, the rotating series of executive figures running the futuristic prison city called the Village. Balladeer’s Blog’s readers may remember him from my reviews of his shows Department S and Jason King. X-Men fans will recognize him as the obvious model used by Chris Claremont and John Byrne for Mastermind’s “Jason Wyngarde” persona in The Dark Phoenix Saga

Peter Wyngarde without moustacheThe episode begins with the Prisoner witnessing yet another sudden unleashing of “Rover” the bioelectrical synthetic creation which the Villagekeepers use to subdue outbreaks of disobedient behavior among the Villagers. As usual everyone freezes in their tracks, knowing Rover will attack anyone perceived as resisting.

For once, one of the residents shows no fear of Rover. An elderly man with a walking stick (George Coulouris from Citizen Kane) continues strolling along, ignoring Rover, who shows unprecedented deference to the man before moving on to subdue whichever Villager has raised the ire of the Villagekeepers.

Our protagonist is intrigued by this and follows the Man With A Walking Stick. The two share a casual conversation in which each man is wary of the other, given that nobody can ever be sure if a fellow Villager is secretly working for the conspirators behind the Village.

gettyimages-73691209Walking Stick Man invites McGoohan’s character to a game of chess he is heading to. The Prisoner goes along and finds that the game is played with human chess pieces in one of the least subtle of the program’s metaphors.

Walking Stick Man is one of the two “players” who sit above the game shouting their moves through bullhorns. The Villagers serving as chess pieces move accordingly. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER (1967): THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click HERE  

Chimes of Big BenEpisode Title: THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN. In the ongoing debate about the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this as the 3rd in the series. Any comments that I have regarding the Alternate Chimes of Big Ben will be made in this same post.

Leo McKern makes the first of his three appearances as one of the Village’s rotating series of Number Twos. Despite his villainous role he gets the audience on his side right off the bat. He does that while watching the surveillance video of Number Six as he wakes up for the day and voices his observation that the Prisoner “Can make even the act of putting on a dressing gown seem like a gesture of defiance.”

Leo McKern as Number TwoLeo McKern’s character’s verbal fencing with Patrick McGoohan is as much fun to watch as Columbo’s cat and mouse games with the murderers on his show. (And yes, I know McGoohan was no stranger to Columbo, both the 1970s series and the later revival.)

The part where the Prisoner intentionally adds three lumps of sugar to his tea just because Number Two says his file reflects that he takes NO sugar is particularly enjoyable. It’s also one of those scenes that is not appreciated by people who don’t have a nonconformist bone in their body.   

McKern as Number Two also proves to be the most informative of those rotating Village executives. His attempts to persuade our protagonist to just tell the Villagekeepers why he resigned and then join their conspiracy go beyond just admitting that he, too, tried to resist when he was brought to the Village.

Prisoner and McKernLeo makes it clear that the Village represents the model for the Earth of the future as pursued by highly-placed elements from both sides of the Cold War. He paints a picture of inevitability for the Prisoner in hopes that he can make McGoohan cave in while retaining his sense of personal honor. If a Global “Village” is inevitable there’s no shame in surrendering to it. Continue reading

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