Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Prisoner is Coming!

Back in the late '60s, one of my favorite shows was The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan.

In case you're not familiar with it, it was a TV series from England. Patrick McGoohan had been in a series called Secret Agent (Danger Man in the UK), which had a theme song that's still one of my favorites. Here's a video with the song on it:

I chose the copy of the song that seemed to be from this time period, so the video portion of the recording isn't too good, but the song has all the vitality and appeal that I remember from the series.

Secret Agent was written by Brian Clemens, one of my all-time favorite writers. He wrote a lot of the best episodes of The Avengers, and The New Avengers, and some of the best stuff that's ever come over here from England. I have never seen anything he wrote performed that didn't stand out way above most other things. There was a made-for-TV movie that William Devane and Lauren Hutton were in that I loved, called Timestalkers. It's one of the best time travel stories I've ever seen. If you get a chance to see it, don't miss out!

I'm not sure if Secret Agent was ever shown in the US. I certainly didn't see it. But when it ended, Patrick McGoohan wondered what would have happened after the series. What if Drake quit? Would he be allowed to walk out with all the secrets he'd discovered as an agent?

And The Prisoner was born. The first episode of Secret Agent was filmed at Portmeirion, and they went back and filmed the whole Prisoner series there.

I don't know if the theme song inspired some of the plot or if it was the other way around, but one of the central themes of The Prisoner was the dehumanization of people. It was a time where corporations and computer were getting bigger, and, being the beginning of the hippie era, there was a lot of rebellion. People felt they were being squeezed into niches that they didn't want to be pushed in, and were feeling less like individual people and more like the numbers that were increasingly being assigned for everything from Social Security to driver's licenses.

The Prisoner took all this free-floating angst, and wrapped it up with a bow and shoved it down Drake's throat (although you never get to hear his name in the show, but it's an obvious continuation of the previous show). To the delight of the audience, Number 6 fights back with everything he's got, and has us all rooting for him!

American Movie Classics has remade The Prisoner, (or if you want to be more politically correct, reimagined it) and it will air as a six-part mini-series starting tonight at 8pm (here) It will rerun at the end of the two hour episode (at 10) and tomorrow at 6. Check your local schedules.

I do know that they've changed a lot of things about this version, but don't know if it'll be as good as the original, but it's defiantly worth finding out!

So, there's a really good chance that there will be some great TV on tonight!


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