Monday, 1 February 2010

"I AM NOT A NUMBER!": My Ongoing Obsession with "The Prisoner"

The Prisoner is a 1967 TV miniseries created by Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein. It follows the travails of an unnamed British secret agent who resigns from his position one day, only to wake up in a mysterious village separated from normal society. The Village is populated with people who are referred to only by numbers; the agent goes by Number Six. Six discovers that the so-called Number One is trying to discover Six's reasons for resigning, a task largely carried out by a rotating lineup of "Number Twos". The enigmatic higher-ups utilize a full array of insane technology to monitor Agent Six and force him to confess his motivation for resigning from his position.

Without spoiling anything, let me say The Prisoner is incredibly well-scripted and directed. The ridiculous special effects only add to its charm. This is a series where the greatest threat is a sentient white balloon named Rover that basically engulfs and suffocates anyone who opposes Number One.

Some of the acting and styling feels a bit camp now but Goohan plays it all completely straight and pulls it off. He is perfect for a role he largely wrote for himself, refining James Bond into a kind of impossible cool, complete with kung fu skills and impeccable dress sense. Tell me Pat didn't rock the shawl collar.

I'm only three episodes in and I'm hooked. Scientists: It's 2010, how come our phones don't look like this yet?


  1. Love The Prisoner. I still have two or three episodes I haven't watched yet, I gotta rectify that soon.

  2. Not that I was alive when this originally aired, but if Doctor Who was our version of something like The Twilight Zone then this was like our version of Twin Peaks, as it redefined what you could do on tv and left millions of people like WTF?

    Nobody has ever quite rocked a chinos & canvas kicks combo quite as good as Pat Mc.

    A friend tells me the recent American remake is actually pretty good, but I really don't want to ever see it.

  3. MF: Good analogy, mate, spot on.
    Jim Caviezel isn't on McGoohan's level, so I'm a bit wary. But I like that Ian McKellen, might be enough to tip the scales.
    Honest Martorialist question: in terms of canvas shoes, what's a good colour for Jac Purcells?

  4. good call on mckellen: the trailer for the remake looked a bit daft, with none of the weird disturbing tweeness of the original, but mckellen would make an excellent number two.

  5. I've never had a pair of Purcells (I'm a Vans man as far as canvas kicks go), but navy blue, black, grey and possibly even brown are all colours you can't go wrong with.

    The Prisoner had an incredible theme and some really great bizarre incidental music too.


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