Review THE PRISONER: ARRIVAL - Episode 01

Doctor Omega

Member: Rank 10
Have just started a re-watch of this show this morning and managed to get two episodes in. It has been many years since I have seen it - and the first thought during the opening credits was: "They can never successfully replicate this show". The sixties vibe just seems, to me, so much of the flavour of the show. Part of the magic. Strangely, to immediately veer off topic, the only film that I have ever seen that seemed to recapture this decade, Cult tv wise anyway, was the much maligned AVENGERS film with Ralph F. and Uma Thurman.Rubbish it may have been, but I felt it captured the sixties cult tv vibe somewhat, in places anyway.

At the back of my mind, over the years, part of me has often wondered, is this series actually a load of Emperor's New Clothes pretentious rubbish, made as though there is actually deeply thought out subtextual levels to it, when in fact it is just sheer, throw anything in and pretend it means something nonsense.

Based on the two episodes I watched today, that seems not to be the case. The storytelling sets up mysteries and, beyond the fantastical trimmings, such as Rover and the fact that a load of villagers will stop moving in unison when told to by number 2, it is hovering on the side of the plausible.

A great introductory episode. McGoohan's conviction in the role glows on the screen and he is surrounded by pure talent.

Another over-riding thought while watching was that, in my view, this kind of talent is more or less gone. What we have now are generations of not-as-talented-as-they-think-they-are non-actors who blandly manage to put zero conviction into their performances. These were theatre trained actors with real presence and it really shows on screen and is much missed.

In truth, there were only four episodes that I have clear memories of, story wise. And much of the actual dialogue in these four has been forgotten.


So it will be very interesting to revisit the show with much older eyes and ears and see and hear things that I simply was never aware the first time around.

So far, I am glad to have embarked on this journey.


Member: Rank 8
Next episode Checkmate
Intelligence Agent, unnamed but maybe John Drake from McGoohan's previous show Danger Man, resigns from his job in central London. Drives back to his house and is kidnapped. He awakes in The Village, architecturally Italianate, but could be anywhere. Everyone has a number there, no names, Number 2 runs the place from a futuristic control room along with other guardians.
The inhabitants are either prisoners or guardians, there's no real way of telling whom is whom. A large white balloon patrols the place and suffocates anyone stepping out of line. The Prisoner wants to find out who runs the Village, and the guardians want to know why he resigned.
And who is Number 1? An unseen boss, occasionally on the phone to Number 2 giving orders.
The Prisoner's residence in the Village is an exact copy of his London house internally, externally it's a cottage.
The Village seems to be surrounded on three sides by mountains and one by Sea. Maybe it's on a peninsula.
In the first episode The Prisoner meets an old friend also kidnapped like him, Cobb is also a spy or agent and has been a prisoner for months undergoing interrogation. Unfortunately Cobb cracks and jumps out of a window in the Village Hospital...dead.
The Prisoner meets a tearful woman,Number 9, who was planning to escape with Cobb.
She got ahold of an electronic pass, she actually is a guardian but a disaffected one, and the pass allows access to a helicopter.
After Cobb's death, she gives The Prisoner, known as Number 6, the pass.
He does get onboard the copter and flies away to freedom! It's a trick, Cobb is not dead or even a prisoner, it was all a set-up.
The Prisoner loses control of the helicopter which is remotely steered back to The Village. Number 9 wasn't party to the con, and the Village authorities will deal with her treachery, probably permanently.
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