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Sunday 30 July 2017

7 of The Best!

   Why 7, and not 6? That’s simple, in order to compliment Patrick McGoohan’s original idea to have just 7 episodes to ‘the Prisoner.’ What follows are my 7 best episodes of ‘the Prisoner.’
1, ‘Arrival,’ first because it sets up the series perfectly. A man resigns his job, is abducted to The Village. He is pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed, and numbered! And along with the Prisoner the television viewer begins to learn about The Village! It is brilliantly filmed, and takes in the all pictorial value of Pormeirion.
    Originally there was to have been a fight between two men in a fish pond located outside Lower and Upper Trinity cottages. However the scene having been shot, was cut from the finished episode. And yet there is a similar action, if you watch carefully as the Prisoner mounts the steps leading up to the Piazza. There are two men fighting, they grapple with each other and fall into the pool of water. As the scene plays out the two men continue to fight in the water, they appear to be squabbling over something yellow in the water. But then a few moments later when Number 2 gives the order to “Wait, wait” the two men in the water are suddenly no longer there! But what about that chap wearing a dark piped blazer, straw boater messing about in a little dinghy in the pool? The dinghy is pulled along by the chap who goes running about to eventually be smothered by the membranic Guardian. The dinghy probably manhandled instead of being rowed because the water isn’t deep enough for him to use a pair of oars! There is a quirkiness about The Village which runs throughout the series, and at times that which takes place is strange and surreal. And sometimes it bends the rules, “Walk on the grass”.
   And the questions begin, where is The Village? Why did the Prisoner resign? Who is Number 1? Who is Number 2? What is that white balloon supposed to be? Will the Prisoner escape?

2, ‘Checkmate,’ simply because of its simplicity. There is no over elaboration, just a plan which has been well calculated. However there is one mistake, and the Rook made it. Again being one of the four episodes to be filmed at Portmeirion, which could be chosen simply for Portmeirion’s picturesque value alone.
3, ‘The Chimes of Big Ben,’ chosen because of the rapport between Number 6 and Number 2 when it should be impossible for a relationship to be struck up between Number 6 and Number 2. For its sense of humour, and for the first time it reveals a chink in Number 6’s armour, he can never resist a damsel in distress! The episode also demonstrates how Number 6 is as easily fooled as any of us. He believed Nadia’s story of knowing the location of The Village because he was desperate to escape.
4, ‘Free For All,’ possibly a perfect episode is one way to describe it. The one flaw it does have is how many times the taxi is driven down the same street, passing the same buildings, during the interview with Number 113! Number 2 is always in control and is able to manipulate Number 6 because of his predictability. They knew that given the opportunity to stand for election Number 6 would not be able to resist, hence the prefabricated placards. Demonstrating that everything in The Village is arranged, and pre-arranged well in advance!
5, ‘Dance Of The Dead,’ this is the perfect episode, there are no mistakes as I can see. The action is defined, the storyline simple, and it is the last time Number 6 will have his breakfast brought to him on a tray! It is an episode which Patrick McGoohan took against, and for some time left on the shelf in the editing suite, which makes me instantly for this episode. What is gained by the end of this episode, I’ve never been clear about. Perhaps it’s simply that Number 6 can never win, no matter what he does.
  There is the moment of suspense and anticipation as Number 6 is about to whip aside the screen to reveal, to reveal not who, but what….the teleprinter! Who did Number 6 expect to see, who did you expect to see? At the time in 1967 I did think it might be Number 1, but that would have been too far too easy.
   Number 6 put on trial and sentenced to death. We the television viewer are aware that it is a sentence that will not be carried out, because Number 2 tells us that Number 6 has a future with The Village, but Number 6 doesn’t know that!

6, ‘Hammer Into Anvil,’ is chosen for the one-to-one value of this episode, the plots and machinations of Number 6 against Number 2, his “jamming” activities if you prefer. Yes I know Number 2 has an assistant in Number 14, but he doesn’t really get that involved, and when he does he always gets the worst of it, from both Number 2 and Number 6. Number 2 may be a weak link in the chain of command, but he’s no murderer. A fool because he’s not prepared to listen to anyone. Mentally he’s unstable seeing enemies and conspirators everywhere, where there are none. At the time, in 1967, I thought this Number 2 had got it right, that Number 6 was a plant sent to The Village. But I soon learned differently. Although I think a plant was sent to The Village, Number 34 who died in ‘Dance of The Dead!’
7, ‘The General,’ because I like actor Colin Gordon, and its a lesson in education! An overconfident Number 2, his confidence is in the General and Speedlearn {no more tedious learning by rote} which eventually leads to his downfall. WHY? Here Number 2 is given a second bite of the cherry, yes he messed up when attempting to extract the reason behind the Prisoner’s resignation in ‘A B and C,’ but this time his administrative details do not concern Number 6, so nothing can go wrong. Well not until Number 6 involved himself, having got the message that Speedlearn is an abomination, it is slavery, and that the General must be destroyed!
   Whereas ‘Dance of The Dead’ had a period of Carnival, ‘The General’ has a period of Mardi Gras, students wearing very elaborate Mardi Gras masks and waving placards about with such slogans as “No Home work with Speedlearn” “Speedlearn Its More Than Possible It Works” “University For All In 3 Minutes” “No More School ❤
General” as they celebrate the fruits of Speedlearn.
    That’s my choice of 7 episodes of which 1 to 5 was an easy choice to make. All I had to do then was select the final two which was not quite so simple, and then to put them in no particular order, save for ‘Arrival.’ However I’m sure that readers would be able to make their own choices which would no doubt differ greatly from mine.
Be seeing you


  1. I always wondered who was Number Six before the current Number Six (let's call him John) arrived in the village. An episode showing ingenious attempts to discover the identity of the previous Number Six could have provided John with a potentially crushing discovery about how he might himself become un-numbered.

    1. Hello 42,
      I have also wondered about the former Number Six and what happened to him or her. That would have the current Number 6 the NEW Number 6 in 'Arrival.'
      I enjoyed reading your comment, itself I find ingenious perticulalry the idea of how John himself might become un-numbered!

      Best regards
      Be seeing you