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MORIARTY Escapes Into THE PRISONER On DVD!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

I am not a number. I am an Evil Genius. And I am madly head over heels in love with A&E’s new DVD release of the first seven episodes of the landmark series THE PRISONER.

It’s actually just after 1:00 in the morning. Halloween is over, and after a full day of horror favorites (PRINCE OF DARKNESS, VIDEODROME, and several classics from Turner Classic Movies and American Movie Classics), I’m ready for something else. There’s a Harold Lloyd short on TV right now, "Never Weaken," but it’s just on while I gather my thoughts on the knockout job that A&E’s done in bringing McGoohan’s small screen classic to the DVD consumer. I knew these discs were coming, but I had pretty much put it out of my mind. In fact, when I went to Virgin tonight, it was to pick up the new U2 album and to see if they had Argento’s DEEP RED in stock. I ended up browsing new releases, and there they were, side by side. THE PRISONER VOL. 1 and VOL. 2, each with four full episodes of the series. One of the episodes included in VOL. 1 is an alternate version of an episode that’s included in its final form on VOL. 2, so there’s only seven episodes here. Still, that alternate version is well worth having for fans of the series, and it’s a great glimpse at the thought that went into the creation of each of these 17 gems, each one a mini-movie. They’re being released in the preferred viewing order for the series (more on that below), and so far these are the only ones that are out. It’s enough to remind me why I consider the show television’s finest hour, and it should be enough to convert new fans to one of the most cerebral riffs on the spy genre ever attempted.

Right now, it’s still expensive to buy any of the TV episode collections that are out. If you’re an AVENGERS or an X-FILES fan, you’re making a considerable investment when you start buying those shows. With THE PRISONER, there are only 17 episodes, so there’s a clear end in sight when you buy these first two volumes. Even if you have these on tape, it’s worth the money for any serious fan of the show to go out and get these DVDs immediately, if only for the stunning transfer that’s been done. This is most assuredly a show of the ‘60s. Like STAR TREK, there’s a surreal combination of the extremely artificial and location work that dates the show to a certain extent. I love the sense of style on THE PRISONER, though, and it’s amazing how obvious the influence this show has had becomes when you rewatch the episodes now. THE TRUMAN SHOW in particular should have a special "Thank You" in the closing credits of the film, since much of the vibe of Seahaven in that movie is lifted wholesale from this show.

When the series was originally run, it was shown in the sequence that the episodes were finished. There were certain production delays along the way that made it impossible to run the series as intended. When CBS imported the British show as a summer replacement series, the episodes were rearranged according to the wishes of McGoohan and co-creator George Markstein. That’s the order these episodes are being released in, and it certainly makes a difference in the rhythm of the show as a whole. I don’t know how many of you have been lucky enough to find the show in its various airings on PBS and in syndication over the years, but I hope it’s a good percentage. For the rest of you, I hope I can persuade you to take a look at the show and see if you fall prey to its distinct and particular pleasures.

ARRIVAL

Tonight, I showed Henchman Mongo the first two episodes of the series, and it was interesting to view it through fresh eyes even as I was geeking out on the rediscovery of this show I adore so much. Right away, the pilot is a grabber. This show went on the air in the wake of SECRET AGENT MAN, a successful spy thriller that had starred McGoohan. In the opening moments of the show, he appears to be playing that same character, a suave killer cast in the Bond mold. He races his little sports car up to the front steps of spy headquarters, then makes a dramatic entrance into the office of his superior, where he rants and raves, turning in a letter of resignation. As he leaves, he’s being watched, and we peer at him from passing cars, from the sides of streets. He rushes home, starts throwing clothes together, even as a mysterious tall man matter of factly starts pumping gas in through the keyhole. McGoohan passes out, and when he wakes up, we’re down the rabbit hole, on the other side of the rainbow, out the back of the wardrobe.

He’s in an odd little apartment, one of many in an odd little village that he begins to explore. The script by George Markstein and David Tomblin is incredibly witty, and it does a great job laying the groundwork for the complex mind games ahead, just as Don Chaffey’s direction of the episode establishes the particular aesthetic of this world. As McGoohan pokes his way around The Village, he is greeted by people with numbers on their lapels, all of them exchanging the common greeting, "Be Seeing You," no single background evident. There’s English, Russian, Czech, and Chinese guests of the The Village. There’s no guards that are visible, no phones to the outside world, no maps available. It’s only gradually that McGoohan is filled in on his status as the newest resident of The Village. He’s told that he no longer has a name. He’s told that he is Number Six. When he demands to know who’s in charge of The Village, Number Two tells him that he is in charge.

"Who is Number One?" he bellows angrily.

"You are Number Six," he is told again, emphatically. He is invited to visit Number Two at the Green Dome at the center of The Village, and their first encounter is tremendously important to the series as a whole. It sets up the game that will be played. The people behind The Village want Information. What, exactly, they want is something we’re never told. Information. That’s all. We’re never sure if these are the people he was working for, or if he’s been grabbed by some Enemy. The frightening thing is how little it matters. As one character mentions casually to another late in the episode over a chess game, "We’re all just pawns."

Right away, Number Six determines to escape from The Village. He lands himself in a hospital where he runs into an old friend from his spy days, another abductee, and the two of them trade impressions of the situation they’re trapped in. The old friend, Cobb, ends up killing himself by diving out a window, and it’s Cobb’s funeral that brings Number Six in contact with a mysterious woman who just might be his key off the island.

The paranoia that’s so pervasive on this show, the almost pathological distrust of women, the surreal heightened quality of the drama, the sheer strangeness of the Rovers, the giant white balloon sentries that protect the borders of The Village –- they’re all in place here, all part of the show from the start. Number Six fights for his freedom with an almost animal intensity, but this is just the start of a much larger chess game, and he’s slapped down with ease. It’s a humiliating ending for him, and you can practically feel the rage pouring off of McGoohan at the end of the episode. He’s just starting to glimpse just what sort of opponent he’s facing here. The same can be said for the other side, though. There’s no denying the spirit of Number Six right from the start. When he practically spits, "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! I am my own man!" it’s an existential cry, his life raft in the face of captivity. We see him set himself for the fight ahead, and there’s the sense right away that he’ll do whatever it takes.

FREE FOR ALL

This isn’t just a great episode to watch to get your further hooked on this show. It’s also an important piece to revisit this week, with six days to go ‘till the Presidential election. This is often shown as the fourth episode in the series, but it was always intended to be second, and it seems appropriate here. This is the week that Number Six realizes the scope of what these people are willing to do to him to get what they want. The episode itself also happens to be a particularly savage satire of the election process, and watching this just after my nightly dose of campaign coverage was like getting hit with a bucket of cold water. Sobering. Shocking, even.

We’re treated to the same opening as the first time, just trimmed a little tighter. We see him resign, then go home, then get gassed, then wake up in The Village. There’s a bit of ARRIVAL that’s been cut in at the end of the montage, though, Number Six’s defiant exchange with Number Two. It’s important to pay close attention to what dialogue McGoohan and Markstein chose to replay there. This entire series is an elaborate puzzle box, and it’s only through close observation that it yields up all its secrets.

This episode’s script is credited to "Paddy Fitz," a pseudonym for McGoohan, who also directed the episode. It’s considerably more adventurous than the first episode, and it starts right into its particular brand of verbal fencing right away. As the title sequence ends, we find Number Six in his cottage. His phone is ringing. Surly, irritated with everything about his life in captivity, he answers with a gruff "What do you want?"

A perky English woman answers, "Number Six?"

"I said what do you want?"

She’s unflappable. Without losing on iota of perk, she asks, "You are Number Six?"

I love how McGoohan’s just not having any. This guy makes Bruce Wayne look positively sunny. He practically growls his response at her. "That is the number of this place."

"Hold for Number Two."

On the TV Screen behind him, Number Two appears. It’s a different Number Two than we met in the first episode. Power is tenuous in this world, and failure results in harsh punishment, even replacement. When Number Two speaks, Number Six whips around to face the screen, startled. "Good morning. Good morning," Number Two says. "Any complaints?"

McGoohan glares at the television screen like he’s going to attack it. "Yes. I’d like to mind my own business."

"So do we. Fancy a chat?"

"The mountain can come to Muhhammad." Number Six slams the phone into the cradle and begins to storm away, only to be stopped by the sound of his front door opening.

"Muhhammad?" Number Six turns and finds Number Two already standing there, waiting.

"Everest, I presume." Number Six sizes the older man up as he enters the cottage, the door swinging closed behind him.

"I’ve never had a head for heights," Number Two says, affecting a casual air, smiling in a slight, wry manner.

"Do we play this according to Hoyle?" Number Six asks.

Number Two waves him off and shakes his head. "We’ll put all cards on the table."

There’s no simple conversations in the show. Everything’s a game. Everything’s a duel. There’s not a moment when Number Six isn’t pushing the people who are holding him, taunting them even as he smiles. And there’s not a moment they’re not running some sort of head trip on him. In this case, they share a breakfast as they discuss the nature of democracy in The Village. There’s something great and absurd about these two mortal enemies sharing a civilized meal as they spar. Number Two talks about the upcoming elections in The Village, and how his job is one of the positions that will be decided by ballot. He asks Number Six if he’d be interested in running. He says things have gotten boring, that he will win easily, and that having Number Six in the race would make it a real challenge. Number Six asks what he’d get out of it, and Number Two promises that all mysteries about The Village would be revealed to him if he were to win.

When Number Two introduces Number Six to the gathered crowd, he takes advantage of his platform to rant about being imprisoned, to dare them to rise up and support him in his efforts to "discover who are the prisoners, and who are the wardens." The campaign comes to life quickly, dragging Number Six along like a leaf in a stream. He’s a victim in this episode, totally out of his depth. I love that McGoohan created this episode, and he certainly isn’t the conventional "hero" of the proceedings. He gets beat up, hospitalized (twice!!), chased, deceived, and nearly drowned. The fact that this is also so sharp satirically, so pointed in its observations of how ideas and image are manipulated in a political race, is the unexpected pleasure.

I love it when the photographer and the reporter from the local paper ("The TALLY HO, you know") hop aboard Number Six’s golf cart and start grilling him. It’s another lightning fast exchange. Each question the reporter asks is met with a steely "No comment" from Number Six. In each case, the reporter simply makes up a response all the way up to the final question, when he asks, "How do you feel about life and death," to which Number Six spits out, "Mind your own business," which the reporter transcribes as "No comment." Very pointed. Very wicked.

The design of this episode is particularly striking. There are some lovely sets, and the use of color is often dramatic and memorable. The episode continues to set up the rules of this world, and there’s a lot of little details along the way that I love. In particular, there’s a moment when Number Six bursts in on a room where four guys in black goggles are busy gathering around one of the big white security guard balloons. It’s almost like an interrupted religious ceremony. They never go back to it. They never bother explaining it in the episode. It just happens. It suggests a much richer world than your average TV show. It suggests that these characters live away from the moments when we see them on television. It creeps me out, and I love that. I love that they never, in the entire run of the show, even come close to telling you what was going on there.

There’s a lesson to be taken from this episode about the futility of pretending there is any sort of choice in most elections. McGoohan seems to be saying that all candidates are puppets for someone with larger interests, someone behind the scenes. When they whip on McGoohan at the end of the episode, then drag him off to the hospital to recover yet again, he’s crushed, and even worse, he’s angry.

DANCE OF THE DEAD

Ahhhh... I’d forgotten how much I love to groove out on the opening of THE PRISONER. It gets me in the right mood for the show, what with the use of thunder crashes, the quick cutting, and that crazed ‘60s theme. I love it. Oops... they just X’ed out his face. He’s dropped in the "RESIGNED" file. He’s packing. There’s the gas. Everything’s... getting... fuzzy... whole world... spinning...

They make great use of silence in that opening sequence, punctuating it in all the right places with music and dialogue, introducing us to a new female Number Two for the exchange we’re growing used to by now. "Who is Number One?!" "You are Number Six."

This was originally shown eighth in the series, but moving it to this spot does a number of things that I think are important. First, there’s the way the episode opens. We get a good sense of how things are escalating. When we last saw Number Six, he’d been physically defeated, and he’d had one very brutal head game played on him. As the show starts, they’re experimenting on Number Six in his sleep. It’s evident that Number Two doesn’t know what they’re trying, and we’re told that there’s special instructions regarding Number Six: he is not to be harmed. They seem to be risking exactly that by strapping elaborate electric devices to his head, then having another prisoner call the still sleeping Number Six to try and get information out of him. Number Six resists, and his mental struggle seems to punish him physically. It doesn’t matter how hard they push him, though; Number Six is tough, and he holds firm, even as the experiment almost kills him. Number Two arrives just in the nick of time and shuts down the experiment. The doctors in charge argue with Number Two about what they’re doing, but her main concern is with keeping him healthy. "I don’t want this man broken. He must be won over." They need whatever he’s carrying around inside him, and if it requires subtlety, then that’s what they’ll employ. "There are... other ways," Number Two says menacingly.

Just like that, we cut to the cottage where Number Six is sleeping. He wakes up to the soothing sounds of classical music, seemingly fine, as if nothing’s happened. He seems to be settling into the idea of being under constant surveillance. He’s like Truman Burbank if he’d always known there was a show going on. As he gets ready for his day, he receives an invitation for the Carnival and Dance.

From the way McGoohan and Markstein portray group gatherings in these first early episodes, it’s apparent that they have a certain degree of loathing for conformist society. Number Six is the ultimate individual, the man against the system, and he’s always playing the game on numerous levels at once as he moves through the episode, always wondering what is real and what is for his benefit. Every interaction with other characters is marked by mistrust. Still, he wants to find an ally. He wants to trust someone. He reaches out to a woman he meets at the opening ceremony of the Carnival, but when he tries to follow her, she vanishes into City Hall. He tries to talk to the various women who come to service his cottage, but they’re hostile and suspicious in their own right. We’re not even able to trust a stray cat that Number Six brings home, thanks to the clever script by Anthony Skene and the sure directorial hand of Don Chaffney.

It’s also important to keep this episode early in the run of the series because of the way Number Six still insists on trying blatant physical escapes. There’s a nighttime run for the beach that plays like a strange, surreal dream. Number Six runs until exhausted, passing out there on the beach. When he wakes up, he finds that he’s no more than 30 feet from a dead body. A quick search of the man’s pockets turns up a strange small two-way radio.

When Number Six returns to The Village, there’s another gathering. The town is gearing up for their costume festival, and Number Six learns that others choose your costume for you. He opens the box that’s been delivered to him and finds a perfect replica of the clothes he’s already wearing. Before he dresses for the Carnival, he goes for a walk and tries out his two-way radio. He manages to hear transmissions in another language, then in English. Before he can decide what to do with the radio, he’s discovered by Number Two and the woman he met at the Carnival the day before. Number Two confiscates the radio, then walks away, leaving Number Six and the woman to talk. The two of them toss verbal jabs back and forth as Number Six circles her, leaning in close, sizing her up, trying to decide what she is.

She shakes her head. "You’re a wicked man."

"Wicked?" he challenges.

"With no values."

"You mean different values."

"You won’t be helped."

"Destroyed."

"You want to spoil things."

"I won’t be a goldfish in a bowl."

This sort of spin, thrust, parry, dodge style of conversation is one of the tradmarks of the series. George Markstein deserves enormous credit for the fine work he did bringing McGoohan’s desires to life. He gave this show a singular voice and style, one that really settles in by this episode. Here, McGoohan struggles with the idea of how well we really know anyone, even those we choose to love. It’s all about the disguises we wear, the different masks for different occasions. It’s a brutally sad episode. At one point, McGoohan tries to use a dead body to send a message to the outside world, beyond caring about the dead man, seeing him instead as just more driftwood, free to be claimed.

Dead men reappear, masks are donned by all, and Number Six goes wandering through a landscape that is straight out of EYES WIDE SHUT. Once everyone’s true nature is revealed, Number Six is left reeling, and The Village is that much closer to finally breaking this unbreakable man. It’s interesting to see these early episodes, where he’s still off balance, and compare them to the later ones, where Number Six is finally mastering the game.

Right now, I’m going to take a breather. I could easily gulp down VOL. 2 right after VOL. 1, but it’s going to be a little while until we see more of these in release, so I’ll savor VOL. 2 and review it next week. Hopefully some of you will take the plunge and experience this unique and wonderful program in this remarkable new edition. Until then... be seeing you.

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 2, 2000, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Oh my God! I'm first again!

    by Captain Amerika

    The Prisoner rocks! And so does Nowhere Man!

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 10:43 a.m. CST

    best show ever

    by gstargrave

    I think it's the best thing to come along in the past fifteen years. There's nothing to top it.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 10:53 a.m. CST

    Prisoner

    by Captain Scarlet

    The Prisoner is Television at it's most cerebal, perplexing, entertaining, and pretentiois best. B.T.W do any of you remember the homage to Prisoner on the Simpsons ? They ahd an episode of The Simpsons where one of the big white ballons trys to stop Marge form escaping a cult compound.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 11:02 a.m. CST

    If old TV sucks...

    by Robin Goodfellow

    then how bad is new TV? That must make new TV the lowest possible thing on the scale of quality. "The Prisoner" is a great TV show; and, yes, many people are not going to understand it or enjoy it. But for those with discriminating tastes, "The Prisoner" is excellent beyond words. I beg to differ, Jerkwad. Old TV = pretty damn good. New TV = mostly mediocre hovering on bad with a few bright spots. Think about it this way: How many people are going to be gloriously raving when the DVDs of "Sister Sister" or "Moesha" come out? See my point?

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 11:49 a.m. CST

    "I'm not a Prisoner. I'm a free man" (Guitar riff)

    by Lex

    I've never seen this show, but if the discs were available to rent I'd give them a spin. More importantly, though, reading Moriarity's plot capsule with the "Number 6" business brought back an Iron Maiden song circa 1982 titled "The Prisoner," which quoted the "Number 6" line and told the story from the Prisoner's POV. Now I must decide whether Iron Maiden was a little more culture-savvy than I gave them credit for. It's still hard to come to terms with the big on-stage Eddie (which reeks of Spinal Tap-type absurdity), but maybe these guys had some modicum of gray matter.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Simpsons & Prisoner

    by FredFlintstone

    the simpsons had a brief homage to the prisoner in an episode when marge was escaping from a religios cult compound. theme music and rover and a guy getting smothered by rover, complete with face outline. and according to Hercules, there will a whole prisoner-based episode this season.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, noon CST

    Prisoner/Nowhere Man

    by Reyer

    It's interesting that Captain Amerika brings up the Nowhere Man in all this talk about Good Old/Bad New TV. While not even close to the genius of Prisoner, Nowhere Man was an acceptable, intelligent show with enough riffs off Modern Society to keep it interesting. As well, it was dumbed-down enough for the average viewer, presented like a "Fugitive" concept (the current remake, oddly enough, is doing well). Yet, it went... well, NOWHERE, due to the fact that most TV viewers today are pigs at a trough that producers continually fill with Reality TV, Happy SitComs and Night Time Soaps. Of course, we are forgetting, though, that in its day, The Prisoner was extremely ground-breaking, and most likely an oasis in a sea of pap.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Hill Street Blues, Oz, Simpsons, I, Claudius

    by Airchinapilot

    Yep, not much has been good on TV in the time I've been watching but here are some of my picks. Mostly drama, some comedy, all quality:[br] Miniseries: "I, Claudius" - superb BBC production of the schemes, tragedies, and debaucheries of the Roman emperors and their families as seen through eyes of the 'feeble' Claudius.[br] "Hill Street Blues" - the first and best of the prime time dramas by Steven Bochco. Laid the groundwork for all modern cop dramas. I still think about the momentous death of officer Coffey (one of the major characters) as one of the high points in TV drama. [br] "Oz" - bar none. The most enjoyable ongoing dramatic series on TV today. Funny, brutal and with some of the best characterizations, this is supreme writing by Tom "Homicide" Fontana. [br] "Law and Order" - It's pretty spotty now and I liked the assistant DA Stone era best but a very good moralistic legal drama. My favourite episode is still the case where Stone resigned. I think the Hank McCoy character is getting a bit long in the tooth now. [br] "Simpsons" - how many times have you peed yourself laughing at this show? And it's not stupid humour. It's one of the most intelligent satires today. Last two seasons have been pretty bad though as all the good writers seem to have gone to ... [br] "Futurama" - I'm a fan of science fiction and I love Matt Groening. What more could you want? Bender is the king. I feel like Bender every day I go to work, in fact. [br] "Dekalog" - this was a 10 part series by polish director Khrystofh Kieslowski ("Red", "Blue", "White" and "Les Double Vie de Veronique") based upon the ten commandments. Each episode is a totally different story based upon a commandment (slightly different ones for the Poles, it seems). It's availble on DVD as a box set now. I've only watched half of them but this is cinema rendered on the small box. If you like his movies, these are very strong. "World at War" (documentary series) - I always remember being enraptured by the imagery in this WWII series. The Richard Attenborough narration always is grave, the black and white footage, and the way each episode has a theme makes this greatest of human conflicts as legendary as it should be. [br] "Star Trek: Next Generation" - just thinking of how good some of the episodes in TNG were compared to how terribly awful Voyager is now is enough to make me shake with rage. [br] just a few I could think of

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 12:39 p.m. CST

    "The Prisoner is timeless and McGoohan is a genius!"

    by Uncapie

    What about the episode of "The General?" Thought control through your televsion via a computer under the guise of a learning process. Food for thought. Bold and different, this show would never get made today because the mouth-breathing readers wouldn't understand it and it doesn't star Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio or the Flavor Of the Month Boy-Toy. Some things are better left alone without a remake and "The Prisoner" is one of them.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 2:15 p.m. CST

    Secret Agent Man!

    by narf

    To be honest, I didn't read the whole story, because I haven't bought the set yet, and I want to re-live each episode again. Maybe it was already mentioned, but The Prisoner was 2 things: 1. Unofficially, one of the first mini-series to air on television, and 2. An unofficial followup to Secret Agent, McGoohan's previous series, which people have long speculated to be the same character. The secret agent quits the agency in a huff, and BAM! he's a prisoner. Really fine stuff.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 2:18 p.m. CST

    hair bands et al

    by kylerayner

    Um, darthpsychotic. I enjoyed your tirade on "real" metal bands, but I feel the need to point out that "Roth-era Van Halen" predates all that shit--the hair bands and the real metal bands. VH's first album was released in 1978. And they were a great (if stupid) rock and roll band. Album for album, some great shit (up until 1984, and even that had a few good tunes--Hot for Teacher, Top Jimmy). Van Hagar, meanwhile, was a formulaic, overproduced mess--like recent Aerosmith, Diane Warren-penned shmaltz. Like it if you will, sure (though give me old Sammy Hagar anytime--Money talks, suckers walk), but don't try to hold it above the David Lee Roth material. At least they had a fire all their own (with the assistance of Ted Templeman). Different beastie. Oh, and as for Iron Maiden, yes, some brains in there, or at least a taste for interesting poetry and historical matters--Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (misquided, but nice to know they can read), Run to the Hills (heavy metallers in support of the Native Americans). And Bruce Dickinson was (is?) an Olympic-level fencer. Go figure.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 2:35 p.m. CST

    do not forsake living in harmony

    by gstargrave

    Living In Harmony was the western episode, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling was the one where Number 6's mind was put into another body and he was out of the village so he could find Selzman.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 3:10 p.m. CST

    Iron Maiden songs & old TV

    by mad maximus

    To the person above who commented on IM's choice of song topics....Actually the folks in Iron Maiden are rather well read. They've written songs based on the books Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, the life of Alexander the Great and such. That and the fact they are avid soccer players separates them from a lot of crappy bands who's members fell off the face of the earth and are probably residing in some rehab clinic somewhere...As far as older TV shows go, unlike todays audiences, they were written with the assumption that you actually had a thought process. Shows like the Prisoner, Twilight Zone and the Alfred Hitchcock shows were damn near brilliant. Show me a show today that would come close. Can't think of many can you huh? I can bet the individual who made the old shows sucks comment more than likely has never seen an episode. If they did I'd be real interested in finding out which one and what was so bad about it. Just because you had to think and pay attention to an episode does not necessarily mean it sucks, it more than likely means that it probably went over their head

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 3:15 p.m. CST

    McGoohan was NEVER on a show called "Secret Agent Man"

    by CosmicRay

    ...though it's possible he helped inspire Johnny Rivers to write the song. The only "Secret Agent Man" that I know of is a crappy show on USA that came out earlier this year. The show that McGoohan starred in prior to the Prisoner, and which Number 6 is suspected of being a continuation of, is "Danger Man," where he played the lead role of John Drake. You're slipping there, Moriarty, though it's nice to see the mindless automotons of TalkBack, as usual, didn't seem to notice, and just parrot the same gaffe over again.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 3:22 p.m. CST

    To Cosmic Ray...

    by Pope Buck 1

    The show Patrick McGoohan starred in before "The Prisoner" was called "Danger Man" in Britain, and was renamed "Secret Agent" (with the new theme song, "Secret Agent Man" by Johnny Rivers) when it was run on American TV a couple of years later. Interestingly, there was one episode of "Danger Man"/"Secret Agent" that was filmed on location at the same resort in Wales where McGoohan later filmed "The Prisoner."

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 3:23 p.m. CST

    The Final Volume better contain the infamous machine gun scene..

    by Roger U. Roundly

    ...The one which wasn't broadcast by the network first time out. The one which scores points on several levels. Not the least of which is surreality, for, it shows No6 Mowing down jump-suited baddies in a tunnel with a machine gun, in slo-mo, to the tune of The Beatles'"All You Need Is Love"!!!

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Secret agent

    by mad maximus

    I do believe it was also known under the title "Danger Man", hence the confusion that would arise. Check out: http://www.csolve.net/~wleslie/rc/upmcg.htm for info on Patric Mcgoohan. BTW I put in my vote for "The Girl Who Was Death"

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Well, there goes a foot in my mouth

    by CosmicRay

    I'm a huge Prisoner fan, but must admit that I have never actually seen Danger Man, and never heard it referred to as "Secret Agent," though I do believe its original title was "Lone Wolf." In any case, I guess at least the title of my post was correct, as it wasn't ever named Secret Agent MAN. In any case, I'm still waiting on my receiving both sets from Amazon. I've heard that there is an "alternate version" of Chimes of Big Ben (my favorite of the episodes) included on the two-disc second set.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 4:13 p.m. CST

    Iron Maiden, cont.

    by Lex

    M. Max: Thanks for the reminder. I remember their take on Coleridge now that you mention it. And I can think of a bunch of well-written songs, most of them from, I think, "Peace of Mind." "Sun and Steel" was really well-written, and the song about Icarus was good, too. So there's ample evidence that they're a lot more thoughtful than any of the other metalmen of the 80s-90s, Metallica included. But even as I praise "Peace of Mind," I think back to that silly cover with the straightjacketed and lobotomized Eddie. I know that was their schtick, but it lames 'em up a bit. It's a shame.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 4:42 p.m. CST

    iron maiden etc.

    by kylerayner

    Lex: Don't diss Metallica. They too were once pretty damned good. Great rhythms, and some at least semiliterate lyrics. Enter Sandman, One... Yes, Dalton Trumbo (whose book Johnny Get Your Gun inspired One) may be (may) a lesser light than Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but... Of the latter-day metal bands, Metallica definitely is one of the better ones. --headbangin' kyle

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 6:14 p.m. CST

    the Scarecrow!

    by Andy Travis

    The Prisoner is great. Iron Maiden is great. Their new album is their best since Seventh Son. Metallica was great, pre-Bob Rock black album. Patrick McGoohan was the Scarecrow, too. It was an old Disney TV show a la Zorro. The chances of it making DVD frankly aren't very good.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 6:20 p.m. CST

    by Z-Man

    First the prisoner. Greaatest show ever. Well, outside of the comedy genre, anyway. Although Buffy and Ultraman are both great. Iron Maiden...I still have Killers and Piece of Mind. Don't know what happened to my Number of the Beast. Well, I still enjoy Piece of Mind as a slice of my childhood. After that they just got too Rushy. But Killers--I honestly love that album. Man, that's a great record. Back to the Prisoner. I'm really intrigued by this idea that I've been renting them in the wrong order. Maybe when I'm done I'll start over again and watch them this way.

  • Nov. 2, 2000, 10:05 p.m. CST

    Prisoner shoot out ending...

    by Uncapie

    Yes, it was originally broadcast with the "All You Need Is Love" Beatles song. The action wasn't in slo-motion though. Real time. I know, because it was the first year that we had a color tv in our house and I was glued to it when the "Prisoner" came on. The only episode they never showed was "Living In Harmony" because of the overtones reguarding the Vietnam war. Years later when I saw it, I never read that into it. It just looked like a really cool episode of "The Prisoner", western style.

  • Nov. 3, 2000, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Oops, Me. Props, Uncapie

    by Roger U. Roundly

    Props for correction, Unc'.

  • Nov. 3, 2000, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Uncapie- they didn't understand it even then.

    by Sorcerer

    THE PRISONER was not very well-liked by the viewing public when first aired. Then as now, a lot of folks just didn't get it. THE PRISONER was unique, and it was no more an easy sell in the 60s than it is now. So don't overestimate "Old TV" and 60's audiences- things haven't changed.

  • Nov. 3, 2000, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Thank you I Dream Of Wynona and Sorcerer.

    by Uncapie

    Thanks for the props and info. "The Prisoner" is a very cool series which makes people think. I remember when I was in 5th grade that year and I was drawing pictures of the Penny Farthing bicycle. This one mouth-breathing kid we nick-named, "Bighead", came up to me and said, "Duh, huh! A tricycle?! Why don't you draw a real bike, you baby?!" I just ignored him. One. because he was bigger than me. Bigger than everyone in school. Two, because he was ignorant and never would amount to anything. Which is what happened. Too bad television doesn't make more of these types of series'. Instead, we're fed on a diet of superficial sitcoms and mindless pap. I Dream Of Wynona: may Wynona spend the night with you. causing flowers to bloom and children to sing! Sorcerer: don't take that trucking job over the mountains. Sounds dangerous.

  • Nov. 5, 2000, 4:16 p.m. CST

    Oh that Number Six, thinks he's so damn clever all the time...

    by Regis Travolta

    Cheers for Moriarty! This was far and away the most brilliant and innovative and intelligent series in the entire history of TV, even more clever than Twin Peaks I think. If you watch one ep. you should be hooked for all 17 and if you're not it means you have the attention span and curiosity quotient of a gnat with the brain of a gnat. This show was so far above the heads of American audiences when it first ran that folks just said "Huh?" like David Letterman's Dumb Guy character. Basically they watched it becauseit was a summer replacement series and there was nothing else new on! I hope everyone who's not familiar with it will watch every episode in order and revel in its ingenuity.

  • Nov. 6, 2000, 5:51 p.m. CST

    A&E screwed up The Prisoner dvd release

    by sinople

    There was no reason NOT to release The Prisoner as a box set like in Britian and France. Sorry but A&E lost my $$$. I'm not willing to wait for months on end to have dvds copies of this 17 episode series. For a little over $50 US one can buy the French Prisoner box set and around $75 US you can get The UK box set. Both are loaded with extras. But both are PAL R2 releases.

  • Dec. 11, 2000, 6:24 p.m. CST

    Attn: Moriarty - Dance of the Dead correction...

    by call4justice

    Moriarty, Great review. I am also a huge Prisoner fan and was excited to see justice brought to this great series. I do need to correct you, though, on a statement you made regarding "Dance of the Dead." In your review, you wrote, "...He opens the box that