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Friday 6 October 2017

The Pri50ner - A 50th Anniversary Screening

    September 29th may have been the 50th anniversary of the British screening of ‘the Prisoner,’ but not everyone in Britain watched ‘Arrival’ on that day 50 years ago. Only two regions of ITV’s television network screened the episode, those of ATV Midlands and Grampian. After that day the screening of ‘Arrival’ was staggered {as indeed was the screening of the whole series} by the rest of ITV’s regional network between October 1st and October 27th, by which time ATV Midlands and Grampian were already up to ‘The Schizoid Man’ in the series. I didn’t actually get to see ‘Arrival’ until October 6th. In order to celebrate the anniversary, myself and my wife will begin to watch the series this evening in black and white, thanks to a good old fashioned video player which is capable of turning colour film into black and white. With the removal of the colour aspect, viewing the episode in black and white concentrates the mind on the action, rather than the eye being distracted by the colourful display of The Village. And any idea of resolving unanswered questions put right out of our minds, ‘the Prisoner’ on this occasion now pure escapism, action, and adventure. Cue dark clouds, thunder {suggesting a storm is brewing} over a long deserted road {runway} and a green, yellow nosed Lotus 7 looming large out of the distance.
   After paying a call on the Colonel at his country residence ZM73 is going to pay a call in town and hand in his letter of resignation. Having collected his parking ticket I like the way he drives his Lotus under the red and white striped barrier before it begins to lift. Now there’s another storm brewing as ZM73 storms into an office, shouting the odds at a seated bureaucrat. Slamming down his letter of resignation punctuating it with his fist and upsetting a cup in its saucer, and breaking a tea plate in the process, that must have taken some force.
   After his abduction and subsequently waking up in what he thinks is his home, the Prisoner and the television viewer begin to explore The Village. At the café he doesn’t want breakfast, or coffee, all he wants to know is what the name of the place is, The Village, and asks where is the police station? There isn’t one, and there’s no telephone at the café, but there’s a phone box around the corner, little good that does him! I wonder who the Prisoner was trying to telephone? No doubt he would have telephoned the Colonel had he been able to.
   Not only is the Prisoner treated to a ride around The Village, but later he’s treated to an aerial tour by Number 2, with the
Butler piloting the helicopter. The Village, quite a beautiful place, almost like a world on its own, isolated on the mouth of an estuary, in a nameless country. The Prisoner tells Number 2 that he’ll miss it when he’s gone, but he’ll learn given time, however I doubt The Village will grow on him. Number 2 goes on to explain that they have everything, water, electricity, a gas supply. And what about sewage, is The Village on the mains, or is it covered by a series of cesspits? Oh look, there’s the Council building, or the Town Hall if you prefer. Apparently they also use the Council building for public meetings, amateur theatricals,
well that’s true of most Town Hall buildings. It all sounds fascinating doesn’t it? There’s the restaurant, although the sign said the café, but either way we’ve already been there. Ah there’s the Citizens’ Advice Bureau for those who have any problems, if the Prisoner takes advantage of that service they’re going to be busy! As for the social club, members only, I don’t really think the Prisoner is one for joining things, even though everybody is very nice!
   There is talk of it being a beautiful day, that ice cream is on sale for the citizens’ enjoyment. “Here is a warning!” That grabbed the Prisoner’s attention alright, but it was only about the possibility of light intermittent showers later in the day. Eventually the Prisoner finds himself in the manager’s office of the Labour Exchange. Now what kind of employment can they find for an ex-secret agent? Looking after the secret files perhaps, or in charge of Village security! I know, seeing as he built his Lotus 7 kit car with his own hands, announcing that he knows every nut, bolt and cog, he can work as a mechanic maintaining the fleet of Mini-Moke taxis! That way he’ll have less time for trying to escape, poking his nose into business that does not concern him, and general troublemaking!
   It’s hardly surprising that the Prisoner makes an attempt to escape. He manages to over power two guardians in a Mini-Moke and goes driving off along the beach. The Supervisor-Number 26 has been observing proceedings on a large wall screen, he orders an Orange Alert and the white membranic mass of the Guardian appears in the distance. As the balloon-like thing gets nearer and nearer it mesmerizes the Prisoner, so much so that instead of swerving the vehicle around the Guardian, it collides with something in the sand, and the Prisoner is ejected from the Mini-Moke and is left sprawling on the sand. In a few minutes he’s left lying unconscious on the sand! Eventually he wakes up in hospital with granny keeping an eye on him, “How you feeling son? You’ve had a nasty experience.” Yes and if he’s not very careful he’ll have another one soon! What was it Number 2 told him? He might even meet people he knows…ah Cobb! Poor old Cobb’s in a worst state than the Prisoner! Mind you this is but the first episode so it’s bound to get worse for Number 6 as Number 2 attempts to extract information from him next week during ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ when after a daring escape Number 6 finds himself in an office he knows very well…….

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