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Sunday, 20 September 2015

It’s Been Asked Before - Why?

   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.


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