A Conversation for 'The Prisoner' - the TV show

You are Number One...

Post 21

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

smiley - erm
Your recent viewing has the better of my memory, I fear, which is not good at individual episodes. I once met a Trekkie who could recite every episode of seven series of Next Gen, and give plot synopses. It sort of put me off that sort of behaviour...smiley - yikes
Fom what I recall it makes sense to oder them the way you have said, and one wonders if the dvd's are ordered in original broadcast order or some other way? You'd think they might have taken the excuse to actually order them ina sensible manner.smiley - grr
smiley - shark

You are Number One...

Post 22

Researcher 196840

Be Seeing You!

You are Number One...

Post 23

Researcher 196840

Hey man, NEVER compare me to any Trekkie...I've just seem them recently and like to view each episode as an individual play that contributes to a bigger picture. In reference to the ordering...Channel 4 when they screened the series in the Eighties apparently screened "Many Happy Returns" straight after "Arrival" which makes little or no sense.
Kudos on digging "The Wicker Man" by the way...the DVD is truly wonderful and Chris Lee's Commentary is one of the best around.

You are Number One...

Post 24

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

Unabashed plug time here, then;

A small thing, but mine own, on that most strange movie. smiley - biggrin
And I wasn't comparing you to a trekkie, honest. That's an insult I reserve for my brother, who has been on national tv in his star fleet admiral's outfit. Oh the shame! Will the family ever live it down? smiley - devil
smiley - shark

You are Number One...

Post 25

There is only one thing worse than being Gosho, and that is not being Gosho

There will most likely be no end of debate about the order in which the episodes of The Prisoner should be shown, and I don't think even Patrick McGoohan is sure any more.

Here's what it says on the slip cover of the two DVD's which make up Set 1...

"Every episode has been re-mastered and, beginning here, is presented in the fan-preferred viewing order that follows events and dialogue within each story..."

On the case of the first DVD - 'Arrival'

"EPISODE ORDER DEBATE: Anyone arguing that ARRIVAL doesn't belong first when viewing the series is unmutual."

And on the second one - 'Free for All' and 'Dance of the Dead'

"EPISODE ORDER DEBATE: The second episode to filmed, and titled 'Episode Two' on the location shooting schedule, FREE FOR ALL is often broadcast fourth. This edition returns the episode to the second slot. Watch for a reference to Number Six as "A recent recruit."

And then...

"EPISODE ORDER DEBATE: Number Six says "I'm new here" to the maid, and responds that he arrived "...quite recently" to Dutton, making DANCE OF THE DEAD a very early episode. Filmed as episode four, this was shown eighth during the original UK screening. It slips in nicely as third."

I also have Set 2 at work which has four more episodes. Unfortunately I won't be going in to work until 4.30pm tomorrow.

You are Number One...

Post 26

the Mighty Frankfurter

It's been a couple of years since I last saw the program, but there was always the thought in my head after the final episode that was this. Forget the whole concept of him being trapped by either his old employer or the enemy,
what about the idea that he's dead.
Shocking, I know but in something THAT big and conspiratorial, wouldn't it be possible for them to just get rid of him. The start alone says it all, yes? It's an undertaker that comes for him...

The whole idea of him in a village is an afterlife, possibly a religious, philosophical point for the series as a whole? Who is No.1? Who is God? He is his own leader/god-type character as it turns out and that's a pretty powerful statement to make, especially at the time it was first shown.
He never did die from the Rovers even though they came after him a number of times.
There was alot of subtlety in the programmes that could be taken different ways and I haven't heard anyone else give this possibility any thought. Is it a possibility? Am I being a bit dumb and missing out a big point? I can't remember.

You are Number One...

Post 27

Blues Shark - For people who like this sort of thing, then this is just the sort of thing they'll like

I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand, certainly.
I need to watch the whole series again.
smiley - shark

You are Number One...

Post 28

Smij - Formerly Jimster

A mate of mine who is a huge fan worked out his own logical order for watching the episodes based on Number 6's reactions to situations, the exasperation of the different Number 2s and general plot-points. He recommended as follows (his comments in brackets):

Dance of the Dead (it's a couple of days later - he's still 'new' and 'has never seen a night' in the Village, and it's all about No 2 displaying her power)
Checkmate (he still thinks it's gonna be easy)
Free For All
The Chimes of Big Ben
Living in Harmony (they've used the Western set-up before so it's not last-ditch)
The Schizoid Man
The General
Many Happy Returns (from this point on he never thinks he can get away)
It's Your Funeral
The Girl Who Was Death
Hammer Into Anvil (he now knows enough to beat the system)
Do Not Forsake Me (a year in)
A Change Of Mind (after all we've seen, we can believe the village might finally open up his head)
A, B and C (the Village is desperate and running out of No 2s)
Once Upon A Time
Fall Out

(with thanks to Gareth)

You are Number One...

Post 29

There is only one thing worse than being Gosho, and that is not being Gosho

If he's dead, what does getting out of the village signify?

You are Number One...

Post 30

the Mighty Frankfurter

Possibly reincarnation, lots of religions accept the belief in it. Maybe even just the human need and desire to survive. It's a powerful thing the mind.
Heck, it could be something as simple and basic as what the catholic church preached, ie: Purgatory, a limbo place before getting to where no.6 REALLY wanted to go.

If we knew what he was shouting about in the opening credits then I'm pretty sure life would be a lot easier for us...

You are Number One...

Post 31


The brilliance of this show is that any argument, any theory cannot be proved or disproved...that is the genius of this weird little show, not even something as obtuse as the equally mighty Twin Peaks can sustain such a fanbase-The Prisoner never insults your intelligence which is both a blessing and a curse-a blessing because it is so rare that a T.V show doesn't patronise you and it is a curse because McGoohan is evidently more intelligent than any of us!!! Either that or it's all a load of baloney!!!

You are Number One...

Post 32

the Mighty Frankfurter

Well, I certainly wouldn't stoop to calling the show some type of meat...

You are Number One...

Post 33


I wasn't comparing it to a piece of meat you silly sausage...I was being candid. Of course it's not baloney, if it were a meat product it would probably be Sirloin Steak...

You are Number One...

Post 34

the Mighty Frankfurter

Mmm, juicy...
Certainly something to get your teeth into though!

You are Number One...

Post 35


Just to ressurect this ancient conversation... I heard a quote the other day about the Prisoner...

Aparently, Patrick McGoohan was asked to produce a second series, but he refused, saying something along the lines of he couldn't because he hadn't a clue what it was all about!.

If he didn't understand it, what hope is there for the rest of us?

You are Number One...

Post 36


I always thought the final denouement had something to do with Patrick McGoohan's Irish mother constantly telling him, "You're your own worst enemy, Patrick."

You are Number One...

Post 37


I hope some of what I know about the series will be useful (or, at least, interesting).

1. The basic concept was devised by George Markstein, who had heard about a "village", which existed, during the Second World War. It was somewhere in Scotland and housed those, who the British Government considered to "know too much".

2. "Ice Station Zebra" was filmed, during the making of "the Prisoner". Patrick McGoohan's absence from the set necessitated the substitution of another actor (and a ludicrous change to the plot, involving two people swapping minds and bodies).

3. The "clandestine location", to which No 6 was heading, was his London home, aka No 1 Buckingham Place. Next time you're in London, go and have a look: it's not too far from Victoria Station.

4. No 6's "self-built" Lotus Seven [Reg No: KAR 123 C] was pursued around London by a Vanden Plas Limousine Hearse. These were built on Austin chassis and had six-cylinder Rolls Royce engines. Production ended in 1968.

5. The car park, which he stormed through on his way to hand in his letter of resignation, was, as far as I can remember, the one, belonging to the Park Lane Hilton. [I could be wrong about that but it was one the posh London hotels.] The ramp was, of course, that leading to the House of Commons car park.

6. The opening shots of the title sequence were filmed at the Lotus test track, in Norfolk.

7. The whole project was ridiculously over-budget. The main reason why there wasn't a second series was that P McG had spent the money, allocated for two series, on making the first!

8. The other reason was that P McG was notoriously difficult to work with. Lew Grade said, when asked how he managed to get along with him, "It's simple: I just let him do what he likes." However, almost all the production staff resigned [Were they sent to another village?], towards the end of filming and there was a constant stream of directors, few of whom pleased the Executive Producer, a Mr, er, P McGoohan.

9. With no money left for a second series (and with the whole crew taking part in a mutiny), McGoohan completely re-arranged the order, in which the episodes were to be shown, further confusing the viewers.

10. The penultimate episode was to have been the last of the first series but it was decided, late in 1967, to shoot one grand finale, entitled "Fall Out" [There are lots of different meanings, in that phrase, from "an order on a parade ground" and "radiation from an A-bomb" to "an argument".]. This was, by far, the strangest episode and, as has been stated already, raised far more questions than it answered.

11. One disgruntled fan actually attacked McGoohan, near the actor's Mill Hill home! P McG left Britain for good, soon afterwards, and settled in Los Angeles, where he opted for the quiet life, occasionally appearing in films [e.g. Escape from Alcatraz, Braveheart] and TV shows [notably "Columbo"]. He rarely played a "goodie", after making "the Prisioner".

12. Over the years, many have become obsessed with the programme. Some have even written PhD theses, on the subject. However, as I have shown, the "weirdness" of the show had much more to do with the peculiar circumstances, under which it was filmed (and with McGoohan's eccentricities and- as some would see it- mismanagement of the project).

13. There are, of course, elements of allegory [e.g. the discovery that "No 1" is a corrupt version of No 6, hiding behind a monkey mask] and there are many examples of symbolism [e.g. the automatically-opening door, at No 6's London home shows that none of us can ever really be free, in the modern World], which might be overlooked.

13. Incidentally, the last series of "Dangerman" [known as "Secret Agent", in the USA] was shot in colour but the usual controls, which ITC [aka ATV] imposed meant that it was fairly run-of-the-mill. The main character in "Dangerman", John Drake, did, however, show that he was prepared to question the ethics of his superiors, from time to time. The Prisoner picks up on this theme and several hints are dropped that No 6 has resigned, on a matter of principle. Perhaps his bosses had broken promises they'd made to someone the agent had worked with.

14. The Prisoner was entirely McGoohan's "baby": Lew Grade meant what he said. Maybe he should have intervened and saved PMcG from himself. Ironically, McGoohan really WAS his own worst enemy!

15. "Rovers" were white, Met Office balloons, filled with crushed dressmaker's chalk and tied to the ankles of their "victims" with clear, nylon string. Many of the beach sequences were filmed on the Isle of Man.

(Revised) Preferred Viewing Order of The Prisoner

Post 38

Smij - Formerly Jimster

I've just finished watching The Prisoner in the order I listed a few posts back, and I'd like to revise that viewing order, in account of a few extra details I picked up on:

Arrival - his first day in the Village.

Dance of the Dead - he's still 'new' and 'has never seen a night' in the Village, plus Number 2 is showing off the extend of her powers.

Checkmate - he thinks it's going to be easy to escape with his secrets and mind intact.

Free For All - Number 2 feels it necessary to explain the Village society to him.

The Chimes of Big Ben - his first 'successful' escape attempt, which shows him he can't trust anyone.

Living in Harmony - the first time he meets 'the Kid' (who he later uses in The Girl Who Was Death and who escapes with him in Fall Out), and Number 2 appears to be relying on a set-up that has previously been successful with other prisoners.

Many Happy Returns - from this point on he stops thinking he can escape permanently: having spent weeks at sea, and at least two days back in London, he is brought back to the Village with ease.

The Schizoid Man

A, B and C - he says he doesn't know this Number 2 but has seen enough 'predecessors' to know what to expect. He's also been in the Village long enough to recognise that the young and beautiful Number 14 is a replacement for the old and wheelchair-bound one he had seen before. Once in control of the dreams, he deliberately places the Number 2 from Many Happy Returns into the party as a red herring.

The General - the 'General' is foreshadowed in Schizoid Man, and Number 2 from A, B & C is given another go.

It's Your Funeral - he's made enough ties to the village to recognise a 'good' Number 2 from a bad one.

The Girl Who Was Death - he's settled in enough to babysit for other Villagers, while Number 2 is running out of ideas.

Do Not Forsake Me - he's been in the village for a whole year.

A Change Of Mind - After all we've seen, we can believe the village might finally open up his head.

Hammer Into Anvil - having driven one Number 2 out, he now knows enough to beat the system; he's not just surviving, he's fighting back by breaking the next Number 2 - who just happens to be his former boss, who we see in Many Happy Returns. Number 2's ideas are becoming both more vicious and more desperate.

Once Upon A Time - The Village has run out of Number 2s and goes back to the beginning.

Fall Out - he finally leaves the village.

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