Tag Archives: Patrick McGoohan

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 explored, too. (FOR MY REVIEW OF THAT EPISODE CLICK HERE  )

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 is explored.

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: 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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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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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: FREE FOR ALL

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 

Free For AllEpisode Title: FREE FOR ALL … In the ongoing debate about the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this as the 8th episode.

Our previous episode wallowed in grim, depressing realism. Free For All takes us back into the realm of allegory and metaphor. It plays like Kafka, Ionesco and Pirandello blended with science fiction.

The Story: Eric Portman plays this episode’s Number Two, the rotating series of Village executives who manage the prison-city for varying periods, sort of like Officer of the Day duty in the military but stretched out for weeks at least.

This Number Two pretends to be calling the Prisoner’s bluff, implying that if he doesn’t like the way things are done in the totalitarian atmosphere of the Village he should run for office and try to enact some changes. Nobody has come forward as a candidate in a long time, so Number Two encourages Number Six to run against him. 

Free For All 2Needless to say our protagonist figures this election nonsense is just another experimental Head Game of the Villagekeepers. His suspicion increases when he sees that the Villagekeepers had already printed up campaign posters for him and distributed them to all the other Villagers. Despite our main character’s misgivings he gets swept along in this new cerebral duel with his captors.

NOTE: This is why I place Free For All AFTER Many Happy Returns. That episode made it clear that the Villagekeepers have too many co-conspirators in the outside world for any escape to be permanent. With that being the case the Prisoner can justifiably feel he has nothing to lose by playing along with the obviously phony “election.” If he gets lucky he might be able to at least strike some sort of defiant blow against the people who run the Village. Continue reading

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