Archive for the ‘The Prisoner’ Category


I will not be stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! (but I will be remade!)

November 12, 2009


This weekend you need to lock yourself in a room with your computer and watch every episode of The Prisoner in preparation for the remake that airs this Sunday on AMC. Trust me on this. All the episodes are available for viewing free on this website (which pisses me off since I bought the whole DVD set years ago!):


You will not regret devoting 17 solid hours to watching these classic episodes of one of the most original sci fi shows ever made! Belive me! (You’ll get that joke once you watch the shows.)

In case you haven’t heard, a remake of the cult classic 1960’s TV show ‘The Prisoner’ will be airing this Sunday, November 15th, on AMC.  Combined with the return of Futurama, this could be the greatest resurgence in science fiction that has ever happened in the annals of modern television.  The Prisoner was one of those shows that you never really understood what was going on, and every time you think you’ve figure it out it would throw you for a total loop.  (I’m told Lost is similar to this, so if you like Lost you should like The Prisoner)  The premise of the show was fairly simple – secret agent played by Patrick McGoohan (who recently died) mysteriously resigns from British Intelligence, wakes up in a village in a secret location, and spends the next 16 shows trying to escape the Village without revealing why he resigned in the first place.  The show was very heavily influenced by the 1960s counterculture movement and fed off cold war paranoia about loss of identity and individual freedom in the name of security.  The show’s main themes were rampant drug use, puppet governments, and resisting authority.  Part of what made the show great was just about everything was a metaphor, even the things you think should be taken literally.  For example, the location of The Village changes several times throughout the show (it starts off in the Baltic Sea, then moves off the coast of Africa, and finally ends as a suburb of London), implying that no place is immune from the occasional despotic tendency.  If you’ve never seen the show, the 17 episodes can be broken into three main parts:  The first couple episodes deal with McGoohan appearing in the Village and learning how it works while actively trying to escape, the middle episodes deal with him living and surviving in a world that he is gradually beginning to understand he can’t escape from, and the final episodes are just plain weird – they clearly started to run out of ideas and just kind of threw some stuff together.  The most frustrating thing about the show was that it never really answered any questions.  There was no big finish, no ‘big reveal,’ the show simply ended with us left to wonder what the heck we had just seen.  Oh yeah, and there was a big rubber ball that could do anything from killing a person to, well, incapacitating a person.  (Ok, so it couldn’t do all that much but what it could do it did really well!)  The Prisoner today still stands out as one of those timeless shows where each new generation can see there own particular social issues being played out.  The Prisoner is especially relevant in the post 9/11 world where fears of government wiretapping, secret prisons and trials, and all that other good stuff are major issues of the day.  The Prisoner dealt with all these points and clearly argues that, no matter how overbearing and powerful a government seems to be, the people must continually resist the government’s desire to expand in both size and power.  The perils of giving in are that once you sacrifice your individual rights in the name of security those rights cannot be reclaimed and while you may still maintain the illusion of freedom in reality you are simply…a prisoner.  (Hey, that’s the name of the show!)