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The Prisoner: What the hell was it all about?!

Discussion in 'TV Show Forum' started by PoochJD, Aug 7, 2004.

  1. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    Hi,

    Okay, so the latest rerun of the acclaimed sixties sci-fi/cult TV drama finished on BBC4 last night.

    Now, I knew from day one that this show wasn't going to be easy viewing. I've enjoyed the vast majority of episodes, but last night's final "Fall Out" just ruined the show for me.

    From day one, Number 6 resigned from his high-profile government job. The people in charge of the Village, have always demanded to know why he resigned, and the opening credits showed him appearing to leave his job, and going on holiday somewhere hot and sandy.

    Each week, Number 2 has tried to get Number 6 to reveal why he resigned, and Number 6 has always refused to tell.

    The problem I have with last night's episode, is that:

    1) No reason is given as to why Number 6 did resign, despite that being the sole reason he was trapped in the Village.

    2) After defeating Number 2, he is made the head of the Village, and basically told that he can now leave, without a single problem, because he's shown to be a good honest man, who doesn't buckle under pressure of stress.

    3) We discover that Number 1 is nothing more than a large computer, inside a damn space rocket! :mad:

    I feel gutted that after the previous 16 episodes, this was such an anti-climax! I was hoping for so much more! I can overlook all the weird musical moments; the return of Number 48 (the youthful man, with the top hat, who sang "The knee-bone's connected to the thigh-bone" song), and even Number 2 returning from the dead. However, I can't forgive Patrick McGoohan for copping-out by just letting Number 6 walk-free almost without any problems or protests, and never being told why he did resign.

    So, can anyone tell me:

    1) Why did Number 6 resign?
    2) What was Number 6's name, before he became Number 6?
    3) Why was his resignation so damned important to the people of the Village?
    4) If he had told them why he resigned, would they have let him go back to his normal, everyday life?

    Pooch
    (Slightly bemused and disappointed.)
     
  2. Garrett

    Garrett
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    1 Purely speculation, he was just fed up of his job.

    2 It is never revelled.
    There is a lot of speculation he was John Drake from Danger Man but from what I read in the numerous books and being a former member of 6 of 1.
    Patrick McGoohan denies the links. But as I said he did a sly wink at the series in The Girl Who Was Death with the bowler played by actor John Drake and the same actor Christopher Benjamin playing Potter in both series.
    He also has a sly wink in a Columbo episode called Identity Crisis back to The Prisoner by being an agent who on leaving says “Be Seeing You”. So some say it was episode 18 in The Prisoner, but the agent used such methods Drake or No6 would not use. (Peter Falk and Pat got on so well he appeared in 4 episodes of the series).

    3 He knew so much important secrets in his job before he resigned :
    (A) if an enemy power, they wanted that info.
    (B) if a allied power need to know why he was subverted. There is conflicting evidence which it was as in Chimes of Big Ben he thinks he is talking back home and seems to trust the people in charge but then you know what happens. On the other hand in when he makes a break again they seem to genuinely help him.

    4 ?????? as in 3 (A) if an enemy power, they wanted that info. Yet would not want us to know they had it if they got it. (B) if a allied power would they want that info floating round.
    In one episode of Danger Man his bosses conned him into setting someone up so if they, they were not to be trusted 100%

    Pooch when you got to the stories that you could not understand they are usually allegorical stories rather than straightforward stories and generally were wrote by Pat himself e.g. Free For All and Fall Out. I think what he was trying to say that man makes himself his own prisoner.

    Oh one last think for you to ponder: did he really escape, as the door to his house opened electronically like in the Village. :eek:
     
  3. STOWITBELOW

    STOWITBELOW
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    As far as I grasped, the whys of the resignation are unimportant to the viewer. He Knew too much to just let him walk out with a selection of 'national secrets' without confirming what he would do with the knowledge. I enjoy the retro feel of the program, & how his 'stiff upper lip' 'Bulldog breeding' confounded his captors. I didn't think it was ever certain which side they were on - or as Garrett says, what situation No6 was in at the end.
    The question I think it leaves you with, is whos' side are YOU on?

    Be seeing you!
     
  4. Rob20

    Rob20
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    I think I remember my father telling me that idea for his charecter had come from his own experiences with Dangerman. Apparantly he became utterly sick of playing the charecter dangerman and quit. In a similar manner people were desperate to find out why he was quitting. I think this idea was then part basis for The Prisoner. Therefore, the way I see it he just quits his job because he's had enough. As for why they want to knopw why he's quit they obviously feel the information he hads in his head is too valuable to lose to their enemies. Because they can't understand why he's quit they assume there must be a good reason for it.
     
  5. anephric

    anephric
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    The best thing about the Prisoner is its ambiguity (especially the bizarre last 2 episodes).

    You don't really need to know why he's resigning: just that he knows a lot of "secret stuff" (that's why most of the Villagers are there, after all).

    No 6 is essentially a prisoner of himself (as made visual by him ripping the mask off No1 and it being himself).
     
  6. Garrett

    Garrett
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    It may be of interest that the guy who the prisoner handed his notice into was George Markstein co-writer of Arrival and series script editor. He also wrote a number of spy books and also wrote one called The Cooler see here. Which is a place up in Scotland and was apparently based on fact and is very similar to The Village although placed during the WWII period where agents who knew too much were sent.
     
  7. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Imagine watching it when it was first shown, back then we were completely bemused if not disappointed as such.
    Danger Man was a straight forward, almost James Bond type series, which we loved, when The Prisoner started we certainly expected something similar. I can remember watching it every week and the usual comment at the end was " What was all that about ? ".
    The Prisoner would not have been so powerful if it had not followed Danger Man.
    Whether intended or not I'm sure at the time for most people No. 6 was Danger Man. The series captured the paranoia of cold war perfectly. Watching it several times since, so much of what it was saying rings frighteningly true, in particular - media manipulation.

    So my guess...
    1. Disenchantment, inner turmoil and conflict of interest.
    2. John Drake.
    3. Spy vs spy.
    4. No.
     
  8. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    HI Folks,

    Thanks for all the help! :)

    I can imagine people in the 60's just giving up on the show, when it was originally broadcast, but I guess, at least McGoohan got to make a show that is endlessly fascinating.

    I do love the show, but I felt a little cheated that he appeared to be allowed to simply walk out of the Village, a free man. It felt like a bit of a cop-out, bearing in mind everything he'd done before, in the previous episodes.

    However, I'm glad they brought back my favourite Number 2 - the wonderfully nutty (but brilliantly acted) part played by Leo McKern. I'll always remember the best quote from him, from Episode 2 (The Chimes Of Big Ben), when he quizzes Number 6 about his work of art. Number 6 says "It is what it is"! Number 2 repeats it back to him, in awe and amazement. Brilliant... ...and a much-missed actor!

    Thanks again! :)

    Pooch
     
  9. Garrett

    Garrett
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    I do not think they did, but when the last one was broadcast there were a flood of complaints and the ITV switchboard was jammed.

    I do not know if the still do it, but in the State they run university courses and in the curriculum they cover The Prisoner.


    As you may know Leo McKern was one of mine and cannot imagine anyone replacing him as Rumpole as they are planning.
     
  10. dfield2000

    dfield2000
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    We are told that Number 6 is Number 1 during the voice over at the start of every show. When he asks 'Who is Number 1 ?' the answer is 'You are, Number 6'.
     
  11. anephric

    anephric
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    nice interpretation: I never thought of that...
     
  12. the_pauley

    the_pauley
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    Don't forget the oft repeated maxim in the series:

    "Questions are a burden to others, answers a prison in themselves."

    I think McGoohan hammered that one home with "Fall Out", an episode that was probably the least literal and most metaphorical of the series.

    Personally I found this one a relative breeze to get through. The real toughie for me was "Dance of the Dead" - a riddle wrapped inside a conundrum within an enigma if ever there was one. Still watch this one every so often and come away convinced that I've not quite got all it has to offer.

    Be seeing you... ;)
     
  13. dsw182

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    When Patrick McGoohan was asked those same questions he reportedly said, "The answers, such as they are, are all in the episode - what you see is all there is." Which will either make you watch the episode again & again until madness sets in or make you realise he didn't really know the answers either.

    "If anybody admits to understanding it, then could you please pass the understanding on to me.", also said McGoohan.

    Most of the people involved in the making of "Fall Out" have all said they didn't really understand it and that McGoohan was simply trying to make it as expensive, complicated and obscure as possible to get back at the TV companys & execs who cancelled it.
     
  14. Garrett

    Garrett
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    There was if Fall Out with George Markstien and he left the series this was one on the reasons for it ending short.

    I also think Pat had other commitments and that is why Do Not Forsake Me came about which only required a minimum of his time.
     
  15. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Yes! I always thought his was the best bit of the entire series. They gave it away right at the start!
     
  16. suzywong

    suzywong
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    Yes, very much so. Rightly or wrongly at the time, we all took it for granted that The Prisoner was Danger Man 2, and that the main character "was" the same person. I used to watch it with my father, who had seen every episode...curious because I don't remember him watching Danger Man (which I did!).
     
  17. STOWITBELOW

    STOWITBELOW
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    As Anephric said the best thing about the show was the ambiguity.
    I am still unsure who's number 1.
    Was it 'who's No 1?' 'YOU ARE, No6'
    or 'YOU, are No6' Fall Out was bizzare. I've heard DSW182s explanation before. There are more questions than answers for the whole series. Isn't that its' beauty? 30 years on we can still watch it & discuss it ad-infinitum but still be no wiser than we were at the begining. I don't see this about The West wing, or The Sopranoes for example. Both excellent series, but there's no mystery, & they are of the time.
     
  18. suzywong

    suzywong
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    It must be more like 40 years....I remember as a kid being on a family holiday in Wales and walking across the sands to Portmerion with my father

    Edit: I wasn't far out, first shown in 1967-68.:D
    just shows what an old bu**er I am!:mad:
     
  19. Garrett

    Garrett
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    I remember being taken on holiday up to Anglesey and it was being repeated on TV at the time, so my parents took us down for a day out and I remember going on the beach looking for the cave, and the tide coming in b****y fast and it coming in like a horseshoe, with only one bolt hole and the sand was weird that you put you foot down and you sank 3-4 inches.

    I also had not realised the boat was totally stone/concrete.
    I also seem to remember that in the woods there was what looked to be stone pillars but where really hollow metal supports.

    I have been numerous times since the last 3 to conventions.
     
  20. captainH

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    I watched this series for the first time last year after visiting Portmeirion. I thoroughly enjoyed all episodes except the last 2 or 3 that become far too bizarre for my liking. He must have been taking more LSD than usual when he wrote those....Jesus.....

    Well worth a visit to see the village though - it hasn't changed much at all since the series was filmed.....except Rover doesn't seem to be around any more :)
     

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