1967 saw the start of a TV series that, despite its short
run, has lodged itself in the minds of generations of viewers.
The show was The Prisoner, its hero had no name, and
his attempts at getting free from his open prison
have captured the imagination of millions...
Network DVD release will please fans of the errant secret
agents fight against faceless authority as the show
has been given a restoration job that makes the previous Carlton
discs look tired and grubby. Colours are vibrant, frames are
free from dust and scratches, and the 5.1 soundtrack has been
sympathetically created from the original triple track audio.
The Prisoner has never looked or sounded better.
of the set are some extras that will help explain the show
thanks to a range of interview with people associated with
the production. The key Making of documentary is fascinating
and helps to debunk much of the deep and meaningful
mythology that surrounds the show. Clearly, many of the people
working on The Prisoner - including writers - were
fumbling in the dark, hounded by a producer, who was also
the star of the show, as he quickly lost the plot... quite
literally. Patrick McGoohan, whose idea The Prisoner
was, clearly felt under pressure to succeed but seemed unable
to communicate his vision.
is part allegory [the individual vs faceless authority], part
spy thriller, and part patchwork of '60s iconography. It is
also a deeply flawed show which failed to maintain much in
the way of internal logic. This was partly the result of a
fractured production run that saw the episode count expand
and contract, and finally collapse at 17 shows.
in 1977 McGoohan said: "I thought the concept of the
thing would sustain for only seven [episodes], but then Lew
Grade wanted to make his sale to CBS, I believe and he said
he couldn't make a deal unless he had more, and he wanted
26, and I couldn't conceive of 26 stories, because it would
be spreading it very thin, but we did manage, over a weekend,
with my writers, to cook up ten more outlines, and eventually
we did 17, but it should be 7.
it was obviously initially seen as a seven episode run as
episode six in production was Once Upon a Time, which
was finally screened as episode 16. Just what McGoohan had
planned for episode seven isnt known, but it almost
certainly wasnt made up the shows final instalment,
Fall Out - 50 minutes of meaningful but
ultimately confusing court room scenes that owe more to Dali
or Francis Bacon paintings than familiar TV structures.
biggest problem with these DVDs is McGoohan presence - both
behind and in front of the screen. Behind the scenes he clearly
was unable to control or communicate his direction. This,
of course, helped give the show its unique flavour but a more
coherent narrative would have helped flush out some of the
screamingly self-indulgent and over the top elements including
the whole of The Girl Who Was Death.
McGoohans on screen presence is where things really
fall apart. Hes generally regarded as a good actor who
turns in a great performance in The Prisoner - perhaps
his best. Sadly, his emotional range stretches from silent
angst to subdued rage... and then back again. He exhibits
no warmth, humour or real humanity, which makes his nameless
hero very hard to like.
flawed, fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. And
thanks to these wonderful DVDs from Network its never
looked or sounded better. A great box set with great extras...