Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Prisoner

Staring: Patrick McGoohan, Leo McKern, Colin Gordon, Peter Swanwick, Angelo Muscat.

Personally there are few shows that come around where it is near excellence from start to finish. This is one of the few that join the ranks of such shows as The Office (UK), Arrested Development, and Babylon 5.

The series centers around a spy (McGoohan) who has resigned from his job. After quiting he's drugged and wakes up in a place only known as "The Village." Its inhabitants are all former spies or people who "knew too much" on specific topics that would be important to the "other side." This side is never explicitly shown to be either the West, or the Soviets. This ambiguity is in many ways one of the key aspects as to why the series is so great.

The set design, costumes, and soundtrack are include a great amount of incredibly 60's trippiness that one wonders how many drugs they may have been up to when originally developing the series and episode plots. The wackiness of the plots only serve to help the sense of desperation that No. 6 (McGoohan) must feel as he tries to cope with his new prison (of the body and mind) and seek a way to ultimately escape if he's able.

I would recommend to watching the series in the order presented by A&E, which is a slightly different ordering of episodes - allowing for a much more logical flow of the character's development (there were some instances in the original order where they'd refer to 6's stay as if he was there for quite some time only to have an episode a few down the road refer to him "recently arriving").

Things one will note (if you are heavily into sci-fi - though this is not a requirement) is that the character of Bester in Babylon 5 uses the same hand gesture and phrase when departing, "Be seeing you!" The concept (and even McGoohan reprising his role as No. 6) appear in the Simpsons episode "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes". Where they are taken to "The Island", which is the village in everything but name.


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