Why do we persist in watching the 17 episode ordeal of the Prisoner? Why do we put ourselves through it repeatedly, over and over again? Perhaps through some perverse enjoyment, safe in the knowledge that once an episode is over, we can return to the relative safety of the real world.
Perverse enjoyment did I write? Well perhaps that's right. After all
there we sit, watching a man, a prisoner such as Number 6 being put through a
series of ordeals, waiting for him to attempt to escape, but knowing full well
that escape is not possible. Oh the anticipation we enjoy with ‘The Chimes of
Big Ben’ for example, as time draws ever closer to the hour of eight, when Big
Ben will strike the hour upon which Number 6 will realise that he has been
tricked. That he has not escaped the village at all. And again with ‘Many Happy
Returns,’ the viewer knows full well that despite his having escaped the
Village, having been allowed to escape The Village, that he will soon be
returned there. We watch with excited anticipation as Number 6, dangling at the
end of a parachute struggles to slow his descent to the beach below. And in
‘Fall Out,’ the Prisoner has finally escaped the Village, only to discover that
he's just as much a prisoner at the end as he was at the beginning!
Except in the Prisoner’s end is his beginning, and in that
knowledge we subliminally want Number 6 to remain incarcerated in the village.
The viewer actually enjoys watching his confinement, sharing with grim fascination,
the various ordeals of No.6's inquisition, and confinement in the village. In
short we don't want the Prisoner known as No.6 to escape. Should he do so, then
the perverse enjoyment which the viewer extracts from the Prisoner's
confinement, the experiments used against him, and the dangerous situations he
is both physically and mentally put in, are no longer open to us - the viewer’s
perverse pleasure cut short.
In the Prisoner’s escape, our pleasure is lost, and so are we, but
in the knowledge that soon, it will begin all over again.
Be seeing you