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Sunday 29 January 2012

The Prisoner In Modern Times

    There have been many articles written on the subject of the Prisoner, and here is another one I here you remark. But don't worry, as I'm sure it will not be the last.
2020 sees the 50th anniversary of the 1960's television series "the Prisoner" starring Patrick McGoohan. A series which possibly remains the most enigmatic television series of modern times. A series which was seen to be ahead of it's time, the village with cordless telephones, a credit card system, surveillance cameras, complete with a public address system and hidden microphones, that has now been equalled no more than here in Great Britain. Great Britain, the most observed nation on the face of the world, and now through loudspeakers observers can now tell us when we are doing something anti-social and then ask us politely to stop that which we are doing. They'll be telling us the ice-cream flavour of the day next!
In the Prisoner episode The Chimes of Bog Ben No.2 tells No.6 that the village is a blueprint for world order, an International community. "The whole earth as the village," as No.2 puts it. Well Europe at the very least, is the International community of today as I believe to have been predicted by "the Prisoner" or should that be Patrick McGoohan? That which Europe has become today.
It has also been said of "the Prisoner" that certain pieces of literature and films have influenced the production of the series. Literature such as Kafka's "The Trial" and Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death Films such as The Prisoner of Zenda The Manchurian Candidate.  But in recent years the Prisoner has been on the other foot, having influenced to some little degree films as Cube, and The Trueman Show. Television series as "Twin peaks" and more recently "Jekyll" and "Cape Wrath." Although really with Jekyll it is not so much as "the Prisoner" having played an influential part, that Jeyyll having Prisoneresque touches about it. For example, in one episode of Jekyll we see Hyde coming for the first time, Hyde has different fingerprints to that of Doctor Jackman. And this is demonstrated on a screen in much the same way as the fingerprints of No.6 and No.12 during the Prisoner episode of The Schizoid Man.
Also there is something which Mr. Hyde says about "Not being able to put Humpty together again." Doctor Jackman having gone forever, to leave only Mr. Hyde. And that is something No.6 said during Once Upon A Time "All the Kings horses and all the Kings men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again." And there is a physical confrontation between Doctor Jackman and Mr. Hyde, "Who are you? What are you?" Just as there is the physical confrontation between No.6 and his alter ego of No.1 during the final episode of Fall Out No.1 being the evil side of No.6' character who he was trying to beat. Just as Hyde is the evil side of Jekyll’s character, or in the case of this new series, Doctor Jackman. The fact that in both cases, Jekyll {Jackman} and Hyde, No.6 and No.1, that there is a "physical" confrontation" between them, no longer being alter egos, but physical, and the use of "Being unable to put Humpty together again," all goes to demonstrate a "physical" parting of those alter egos, the good and evil that resides in all of us, in both cases.
So the Prisoner has played an influence on Jeykll not an in your face influence, but something rather subtle and delightful, hardly noticable to the majority of people watching. And Jekyll isn't the only recent series to enjoy a touch of the Prisoneresque, there's Cape Wrath.
    Cape Wrath enjoys a rather less subtle "Prisoneresque" influence, in the fact that instead of the village, there is Meadowlands, where the Brogan family are taken blindfold under the "Witness protection Program." Meadowlands, a curious community where everyone has a secret. People having been given new names, fresh identities, but still remain the people they were. Because you can change your names, change your identity, but you still carry who you are inside your head!
Meadowlands is a cross between "the prisoner" and "Twin peaks." Meadowlands looks a typical New England town, but there is no leaving, no way out, you are there for life! Once Mrs. Brogan and her daughter decided to go shopping in the next town. I watched and wondered just what was going to stop Mrs. Brogan and her daughter from leaving Meadowlands? The white membranic village guardian Rover was obviously out of the question. Then something else from "the Prisoner popped into my mind, the words of the Supervisor "Attention post 14, attention post14. Now approaching Outer Zone in out vehicle. Number 6, I repeat Number 6." And that is just what happened to Mrs, Brogan and her daughter, well of a kind. At a petrol station, as Mrs. Brogan was paying for her petrol, a young girl approached her daughter pretending to be a friend of hers. She upset Mrs. Brogan's daughter so much, that Mrs. Brogan turned the car around and drove her home! Later I observed the very same young girl leaving what I think as being the Supervisors office in an administration building of the Motel. A female Supervisor with a large wall screen in her office, as the Supervisor and wall screen in the control room of the village in "the Prisoner!" There was also what I can only described as an in-joke during the " football match" of the first episode, when Mr. Brogan was given the yellow tabbard of No.6!
Just as the citizens of the village have been abducted to the village for the information inside their heads, being of value to one side or the other. Those taken to Meadowlands having been taken there for their own protection, don't know where they are, just as those citizens in the village don't know where they are, and there is no escape for any of them. And each have secrets of their own. Secrets that they would prefer no one else to know.
    The Prisoner is still as relevant to day, if not more so, than ever it was back in the 1960's. And is enjoying subtle influences upon other films and television series. Or am I reading too much into it. Seeing things that are never there, nor ever were intended to be? The cause perhaps in hankering, as I am, after a modern-day Prisoner series, which of course I can now enjoy with THEPRIS6NER09 which is of it’s time.

I'll be seeing you.

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