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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Seven Episodes of the Prisoner

    Initially, I proposed only seven episodes, not as a series, but as a serial....I only wanted to do seven....out of all the scripts there are seven that I would pick and in line, and I'd keep those and throw the rest away            P.McG

    The seven episodes which would have made the Prisoner serial would have been as follows;
Arrival
Free For All
Dance of the Dead
Checkmate
The Chimes of Big Ben
Once upon A Time
The Conclusion
    For myself, I think Patrick McGoohan was right, however it was Lew Grade who insisted on at least seventeen episodes, and a further figures of 26, or even 36 episodes were mentioned, this to make it esasier for Lew Grade to sell the Prisoner to American television networks. But as it was Patrick McGoohan struggled to make it to seventeen episodes, and even that might have been ten episodes too far! Radical thinking eh? But why? Well so much time and effort was put into the early episodes, that hardly anything was left for the latter episodes such as Hammer Into Anvil, It's Your Funeral, A Change of Mind, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, The Girl Who Was Death, which are considered to be 'filler episodes,' used to pan put the series, which is my opinion, and that of others. For myself, and for purely personal choice as I like them, I do not include either A B & C or The General amongst these so called 'filler espisodes' to pan out the series. Yet they should be considered so, as they are not included in P.McG's own list of seven episodes.
BCNU

14 comments:

  1. "We were talking about the seven episodes which form the true basis of The Prisoner. Well, they picked their seven, but they're not my seven. They claim they're mine, but they're not." - Patrick McGoohan - 1991

    Hello David

    To the best of my knowledge Mr. McGoohan never named the 7 episodes he thought should consist of the '7' that he would 'line up'. He did seem to agree in an interview that 'Living in Harmony' was one of the 'padding' episodes ( perhaps by extension Do Not Foresake Me and The Girl Who was Death could be included).

    The quote above by Mr. McGoohan seems to apply to the White/Ali book that first publishes any reference to the 'McGoohan 7' (listing them) to which he seems to disagree. In one interview Mr. McGoohan seemed ready to name the episodes but was interrupted by the interviewer and Mr. McGoohan did not return to the matter.

    Do you know a source in which Mr. McGoohan divulged his episode list?

    One logical list would seem to be the early episodes cited by Pixley, when Mr. McGoohan was quoted as telling Lew Grade that they had the essential 'stories' to tell the tale of The Prisoner, when it was thought of as a 7 episode 'serial', only to have Mr. Grade request 10 more making 17 ( for his sale to CBS).

    Here is that list:

    The Arrival,
    Free For All,
    Dance of the Dead,
    The Queen's Pawn (later Checkmate)
    The Chimes of Big Ben
    *Once Upon a Time
    *Fall Out

    As you can see by the * all you have to do, to total '7', is add the final conclusion that Mr. McGoohan had decided on.

    Another logical 'list' would be the episodes that Mr. McGoohan would have had the most control over through authorship and or direction or both:

    Free for All
    A Change of Mind
    Many Happy Returns
    Once Upon a Time
    Fall Out

    If you then add 'Arrival' (which Mr. McGoohan had extensive influence on) and 'Chimes of Big Ben' ( interdependent with Once Upon A Time) you then have a list that looks like this:

    Arrival
    Chimes of Big Ben
    Free for All
    A Change of Mind
    Many Happy Returns
    Once Upon a Time
    Fall Out

    I look forward to your comments.

    Sincerely

    Mr. Anonymous

    There is a third solution suggested by a comment in the Canadian press I will post soon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "We were talking about the seven episodes which form the true basis of The Prisoner. Well, they picked their seven, but they're not my seven. They claim they're mine, but they're not." - Patrick McGoohan - 1991

    Hello David

    To the best of my knowledge Mr. McGoohan never named the 7 episodes he thought should consist of the '7' that he would 'line up'. He did seem to agree in an interview that 'Living in Harmony' was one of the 'padding' episodes ( perhaps by extension Do Not Foresake Me and The Girl Who was Death could be included).

    The quote above by Mr. McGoohan seems to apply to the White/Ali book that first publishes any reference to the 'McGoohan 7' (listing them) to which he seems to disagree. In one interview Mr. McGoohan seemed ready to name the episodes but was interrupted by the interviewer and Mr. McGoohan did not return to the matter.

    Do you know a source in which Mr. McGoohan divulged his episode list?

    One logical list would seem to be the early episodes cited by Pixley, when Mr. McGoohan was quoted as telling Lew Grade that they had the essential 'stories' to tell the tale of The Prisoner, when it was thought of as a 7 episode 'serial', only to have Mr. Grade request 10 more making 17 ( for his sale to CBS).

    Here is that list:

    The Arrival,
    Free For All,
    Dance of the Dead,
    The Queen's Pawn (later Checkmate)
    The Chimes of Big Ben
    *Once Upon a Time
    *Fall Out

    As you can see by the * all you have to do, to total '7', is add the final conclusion that Mr. McGoohan had decided on.

    Another logical 'list' would be the episodes that Mr. McGoohan would have had the most control over through authorship and or direction or both:

    Free for All
    A Change of Mind
    Many Happy Returns
    Once Upon a Time
    Fall Out

    If you then add 'Arrival' (which Mr. McGoohan had extensive influence on) and 'Chimes of Big Ben' ( interdependent with Once Upon A Time) you then have a list that looks like this:

    Arrival
    Chimes of Big Ben
    Free for All
    A Change of Mind
    Many Happy Returns
    Once Upon a Time
    Fall Out

    I look forward to your comments.

    Sincerely

    Mr. Anonymous

    There is a third solution suggested by a comment in the Canadian press I will post soon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello Mister Anonymous,

    Well I can see you have been doing your homework on the 7 episodes of 'the Prisoner.' I should like to take my time and absorb your comment thoroughly before I add a comment of my own, so that I can do your comment justice.

    I suppose you are wondering why your comment didn't show up as published? Well I found it as being 'spammed' I have no idea why the machine did that. So I immediately un-spammed it, and both comments are now published.

    My reply coming soon.

    Best wishes
    David
    Be seeing you

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello Mister Anonymous,

    That is a very interesting comment indeed. And you are absolutely correct, although Patrick McGoohan did talk of a 7 episode series, he never once made comment as to which seven episodes he would have chosen to make up that episode list.
    This list:
    The Arrival
    Free For All
    Dance of the Dead
    The Queen's pawn {later Checkmate}
    The Chimes of Big Ben
    Once Upon A Time
    The Conclusion
    which you cited from Andrew Pixley's book, actually originated 22 years ago before Pixley's book. I mean where do you think he got it from? In fact that list first appeared for the first time in 1985 in a booklet 'the Prisoner of Portmeirion by Max Hora who originated the list.
    Okay, the list might not be from Patrick McGoohan, but over the years it has become accepted as being the list most probable to have been in the mind of McGoohan at the time. For me the list works because it is made up from the earliest episodes to be produced, which does make sense. Save for the fact that one episode could be added to that list, taking the place of 'Checkmate,' that being 'The Schizoid Man,' which was the sixth episode to be produced, and was inspired by the film 'The Prisoner of Zenda,' which was said to be Patrick McGoohan's favourite film at the time.
    For any other list, I would not include any of the later episodes, as they were all considered to be 'fill-in' episodes, and that includes 'A Change of Mind.' I think it would be good to watch the seven episodes as listed above, as an experiment to see how a seven episode 'Prisoner' series might have looked, which is something I have not done before, not in all my years as a fan. I did watch the series with 18 episodes, that's watching 'fall Out' as both the first and last episode, that seemed to work pretty well.

    Over the years fans have tried to come up with alternative seven episodes which McGoohan might have had in mind, but for me, the above list works the best. I don't see why McGoohan would have picked later episodes for his seven. Surely it makes sense that he would have picked from those ealiest episodes produced.

    Regards
    David
    BCNU

    ReplyDelete
  5. SATURDAY, JUNE 22. 1968
    THE HERALD-MAIL COMPANY, HAGERSTOWN, MARYLAND

    Patrick McGoohan has admitted that his series, The Prisoner, didn't turn out exactly as he planned. (The format is his and he is also listed as executive producer.) He only wanted to do 13 episodes and resolve the prisoner's dilemma in the last one. But ITV, which put up the money, insisted on more episodes. So they compromised on 17. McGoohan now thinks he would have been better off making a movie of the idea.

    Hello David

    The above statement by Patrick McGoohan can be found in several forms in the American and Canadian press. It seems to suggest that Mr. McGoohan may have had a 'film' concept for The Prisoner and perhaps a way in which the original 13 episodes may still have reflected his concept of a serial of '7' 'films.

    Here is another way to look at the McGoohan 7. In a magazine called Timeline Andrew Pixley suggested that the original broadcast time of The Prisoner was at one point considered to have been 90 minutes ( approximately). Pixley then comments that Arrival may have been put together from two separate stories by the Tomblin/Markstein writing team ( then re-written by Mr. McGoohan). The author of The Girl Who Was Death originally wrote it as a two episode 'film' ( like Koroshi). Finally, Once Upon A Time and Fall Out are used 'back to back' to create the finale.

    All of the above suggest that The Prisoner might have been conceived as a series of 90 minute films. When you remove the clearly noted 'padding' episode 'Living in Harmony' ( and by extension The Girl Who was Death and Do Not Foresake Me..) the original episodes can be arranged into 7 such 'films'. The episodes "A. B. & C." and "The General" make the most obvious pairing ( the same No.2).

    Below you will find a suggested ordering and the subject each 'film' would cover as one way this would have looked..


    Arrival/ DOTD Death: The only way to enter or leave The Village (triumph of The Machine)

    COBB/ Checkmate: There is no escape

    A.B.& C./The General: Manipulation of technology and science

    FFA/ IYF: Politics of The Village

    The Schizoid Man/ COM; Manipulation of medicine and psychology

    MHR/ HIA: Where the No.2's come from ( our own society)

    OUAT/Fall Out: Who is No.1

    Here are the episodes paired but with their episode order number, for comparison..... the order used is the American broadcast order ( in which Living in Harmony was #12).


    'Prisoner' Episodes:

    1. "Arrival" / 8. "Dance of the Dead" 2. "The Chimes of Big Ben"/ 11. "Checkmate" 3. "A. B. & C." / 6. "The General" 4. "Free for All" / 10."It's Your Funeral" 5. "Schizoid Man"/13. "A Change of M ind" 7. "Many Happy Returns"/14. "Hammer into Anvil" 16. "Once upon a Time" 17."Fall Out"

    Here are the 'padding' episodes ( in this version of '7' films)..

    9. "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling" 12. "Living in Harmony" 14. 15. "The Girl Who Was Death"

    I hope you enjoy this novel suggestion.

    Sincerely

    Mr. Anonymous

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello Mister Anonymous,

    It has to be said that I thoroughly enjoyed your recent comment, and found your novel idea of 'the Prisoner' series to be made up of 90 minute films, to be radical thinking, I like radical thinking because it goes against the norm.
    Indeed 'Arrival' was intended as a 90 minute episode, as was 'The Girl Who Was Death' or as you say, a two part episode. And that figure of 13 was banded about by McGoohan, as 26 or even 36 episodes were by Lew Grade. With hindsight 'the Prisoner' would not have reached 20 episodes, let alone 26!
    What's more your pairing up of the eopisodes is very clever, and they work when you consider the content of the paired episodes, and now you've got me thinking about something else.....which I will write about in a blog, and so will not bother you with it here.
    Regarding the 'Arrival' as a 90 minute film, my wife reminds me that that a 90 minute film may have been made, and screened in Canada. I am reminded that Max Hora, who used to run the Prisoner shop at Portmeirion back in the 1980's and 90's, told us that he had an audio recording of the 90 minute film of 'Arrival' which was made for him when it was screened in Canada. At the time we were very intersted in this, and Max tried to find the audio tape for us to listen to when my wife and I we staying at Portmeirion one year. But sadly he could not find the tape.

    Yes, you are to be congratulated my dear fellow. We may not always agree on all matters regarding 'the Prisoner,' but you have to admit there is still much to think about the series. Indeed, I have never before met anyone who has come up with your novel suggestion before.

    Best Wishes
    David
    BCNU

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello David

    I am glad you enjoyed our exchange, I have.

    Here is a link to a 40th anniversary edition of The Prisoner that claims some version of a 'restored' 'alternative Arrival'.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Prisoner-40th-Anniversary-Special-Complete/dp/B000RJEIPW

    Sincerely

    Mr. Anonymous

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello Mister Anonymous,

    I have indeed enjoyed our recent exchange, so much so, that I was compelled to write a piece of blog this morning entitled 'The Prisoner In A series of 90 minute films,' in which I cited your list of 7 films, for which you receive credit. Also with your permission, I should like to use your list in my manuscript about 'the Prisoner' called 'The Butler speaks,' again giving you full credit of course. Should you decline permission, then I understand.

    As for 'the 40th anniversary Prisoner' box-set, I do have that particular item, and it does contain a 'restored' first cut of 'Arrival.'

    Have a good weekend

    Regards
    David
    BCNU

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello David

    Permission granted. Again I am glad you enjoyed.

    Sincerely

    Mr. Anonymous

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello Mister Anonymous,

    Thank you, much appreciated.
    How do you choose to be credited? Perhaps you would like to let me know in a private email?

    Best Wishes
    David
    Be seeing you

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hello David

    You may simply use 'Mr. Anonymous' for any credit.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely

    Mr. Anonymous

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hello Mister Anonymous,

    As you wish my dear fellow, and I respect your right to anonimity.

    Regards
    David
    BCNU

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hammer into Anvil is a great episode, that reaally fit in the cannon in term of quality, both narrative and visuals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy ‘Hammer Into Anvil,’ I cannot help but feel sorry for Number 2 at the end, Number 6 deals out some rough justice in this episode in avenging 73’s death. And I cannot help but think Number 1 allows Number 6 to get away with it! There is some very good dialogue, and I always enjoy Number 6’s activities in the General Store.

      David
      Be seeing you

      Delete