Tag Archives: forgotten television

THE PRISONER: EPISODE LINKS

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 Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: FALL OUT (SERIES FINALE)

BFall Outalladeer’s Blog CONCLUDES 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: FALL OUT

Madness and death reign supreme in the still-controversial series finale of The Prisoner.

We’ve arrived at the 17th and final episode of this innovative Patrick McGoohan series. Last time around, in Part One of the two-part conclusion, we at last learned why the Prisoner resigned from British Intelligence. The significance of the Penny-Farthing Bicycle symbolism was revealed, too.

Fall Out brings the entire saga to a close. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: ONCE UPON A TIME

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

Once Upon A TimeEpisode Title: ONCE UPON A TIME … This installment is PART ONE OF THE TWO-PART SERIES FINALE.

This time around we at last learn why the Prisoner resigned from British Intelligence, PLUS the significance of the Penny-Farthing Bicycle symbolism becomes clear.

NOTE: This episode is sometimes confused with The Girl Who Was Death because that episode began with a child’s story-book being opened and the title Once Upon A Time understandably puts some viewers in mind of that opening.

THE STORY:

pennyfarthing bicycle no wordsLeo McKern returns as the same Number Two he portrayed back in The Chimes of Big Ben. The Number Twos are the rotating series of executives who manage the prison-city called the Village. The midget Butler (Angelo Muscat), the only character besides Patrick McGoohan to appear in every episode of the series, serves McKern breakfast right there in Number Two’s office inside the Green Dome.

Number Two is too fidgety to eat and continues studying the viewscreen, with live surveillance footage of the Prisoner pacing like a caged tiger in his residence. At length McKern reacts to Number Six’s unflagging intensity and indefatigable sense of purpose by calling him on the cordless phone.

Prisoner behind bars“Why do you care?” he asks our protagonist when he answers. (I’d have preferred the more specific question “Why do you STILL care?”) McGoohan makes it clear he recognizes the voice and when Number Two asks the same question again he tauntingly replies “You’ll never know.”

Number Two settles back into controlled fuming as he continues watching our hero pacing. As I mentioned in another recent episode the advantage in the war of nerves between the Prisoner and the Villagekeepers has definitely shifted to Number Six at this late stage. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: IT’S YOUR FUNERAL

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

It's Your FuneralEpisode Title: IT’S YOUR FUNERAL … In the ongoing debate over the exact ordering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this one 3rd from the last. 

*** So after this review all we have left is the two-part series finale. ***  For those readers who have requested SPOILERS on who wins in a given episode our hero the Prisoner wins this round.

pennyfarthing bicycle no wordsIt’s Your Funeral centers around an assassination attempt in the Village and features how our main character’s rebellious nature has begun inspiring assorted other Villagers to commit their own subtle acts of defiance to the Villagekeepers.

I’ll also take a brief look at The Stranger/ Stranded in Space, a failed pilot movie for a Prisoneresque sci-fi series in 1973. Cameron Mitchell even delivers a speech straight out of The Prisoner at one point.

THE STORY: Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: HAMMER INTO ANVIL

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

Hammer into AnvilEpisode Title: HAMMER INTO ANVIL … In the ongoing debate over the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this one 4th from the last.

NOTE: The title of this episode does indeed come from the famous Goethe quote and refers to the intensely personal duel of wills between the Prisoner and this episode’s Number Two (Patrick Cargill).  

Many readers have asked me to start SPOILING up-front if our hero or the Villagekeepers win the battle in the episode being reviewed. They said they’ve come to hate episodes where the malevolent Villagekeepers come out on top. That’s a great tribute to what effective villains they are and how the Prisoner has to overcome incredible odds for his scattered victories. Rest assured our protagonist unequivocally wins this round. 

pennyfarthing bicycleTHE STORY: Amid a dramatically convenient thunderstorm this episode’s Number Two, the rotating series of executives who manage the prison-city called the Village, interrogates a female prisoner called Number Seventy-Three. Her wrists are still bandaged from her recent suicide attempt, an action she tried in order to escape captivity in the Village. 

Number Two is sadistically enjoying his latest Head Game against the woman, who has been drugged to perceive him as a quasi-demonic figure. The villain seems close to breaking the woman to extract whatever information the Villagekeepers want from her. She begins screaming in terror. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: DO NOT FORSAKE ME …

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

Do Not Forsake MeDO NOT FORSAKE ME, OH MY DARLING – This is the third and final of the 3 episodes I would drop from this 17 episode series because they either do not serve the premise or don’t serve it well. I will synopsize the storyline, point out why I would drop it and add how I would change it.  

NOTE: This episode’s title is so associated with the song of the same name from the western film High Noon that many people confuse this installment with Living in Harmony. Because of the storyline it is also frequently confused with the episode titled A Change of Mind.

THE STORY:

At a meeting of co-conspirators of the Villagekeepers it is decided to have one of their agents out in the real world try to track down a missing scientist named Dr Seltzman. They reach this decision when they fail to crack a code which would lead them to their latest would-be captive.

Do Not Forsake Me 2The Villagekeepers demonstrate for this agent the Colonel (yes, a third “colonel” appears in the series) Dr Seltzman’s device for switching minds between two human subjects. They do not fully understand the process nor do they understand how to switch the minds back to their respective bodies afterward.

Our villains want to use the process to further their plans. It is decided that the Prisoner is the most qualified man to track down Seltzman due to his previous association with the man. But how to release him from the Village to undertake this mission without him contriving to give them the slip and go on the run again? Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: A CHANGE OF MIND

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 Change of MindA CHANGE OF MIND

As I mentioned last time around there are three episodes of this show that I feel could be eliminated completely because they either don’t serve the overall premise or don’t serve it well. Here is the second of those three.

On the surface this episode has so much potential and could have been a genuine classic. A Change of Mind deals with political witch hunts, social ostracism and the way that totalitarian governments like the former Soviet Union diagnosed dissidents as insane for questioning the prevailing political dogma of the moment. To me it all falls apart with the clownish, cartoonish finale.

Like I did with the previous installment I will detail my reasons for dismissing this episode plus offer my take on how I think it could have been changed. 

THE STORY: 

McGoohan in blueThe Prisoner is exercising on some makeshift gymnasium equipment that he has constructed for himself in the woods just outside the prison city called the Village. Some Villagers who may or may not be thugs of the Villagekeepers gather around and taunt our protagonist for his antisocial, non-conformist ways. They also threaten to report him to “the Committee” for his dissident behavior. Continue reading

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