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Friday 1 December 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, with the rest of the country playing catch up! In order to celebrate the anniversary, myself and my wife have set about watching the series in black and white, thanks to a good old fashioned video player which is capable of turning colour film into black and white. So it all began with ‘Arrival’ on October 6th.With the removal of the colour aspect, viewing the episode in black and white does really concentrate the mind on the action, rather then the eye being distracted by the colourful display of The Village.
  The idea of resolving unanswered questions put right out of our minds, ‘the Prisoner’ on this occasion now pure escapism, action, and adventure.

We’ll be open in a minute
What’s the name of this place?
Your new here aren’t you?
Do you want breakfast?
Where is this?
The Village?
I’ll see if coffee’s ready

    As the Prisoner explores The Village so we do with him. We may not be debriefed, but we are briefed about The Village as the Prisoner is treated to an aerial tour. 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. They have their own council democratically elected, you remember them, those brainwashed imbeciles Number 6 encounters in ‘Free For All.’ Apparently they also use the Council building for public meetings, amateur theatricals, well that’s true of most Town Hall buildings. So what about the Palace of Fun marked on The Village Map, that’s never made use of. Later during ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ there’s the Recreation Hall,’ is that in place of the Palace of Fun? It all sounds fascinating doesn’t it? There’s the restaurant, but 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. However the two citizenesses who are just passing by, seem to have taken the public announcer at her word already, see them sharing an umbrella. But no it’s alright, as it’s not an umbrella, it’s a parasol shading them from the sun! The Prisoner is then invited to walk on the grass, a strange sign offering such freedom in a suppressive environment! 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! So Number 6 we come to the questionnaire, just fill in your race, religion, hobbies, what you like to read, what you like to eat, what you were, what you want to be, any family illnesses, any politics? Answers came there none! But I wonder, hobbies that would be mechanics as I said before about his Lotus 7, what he likes to eat would be his favourite dish of jugged hare. Any family illnesses, might that be a question towards diabetes seeing that Number 6 gave up sugar 4 years and 3 months ago on medical advice. Never mind being afraid of putting on weight, nor of being reduced, perhaps he was borderline diabetic at the time!
 So the screening of ‘the Prisoner’ has progressed over the weeks reaching the episode ‘Checkmate’ this evening at 8pm, which happens to be my second favourite episode. In ‘Free for All’ Number 6 told the electorate that he intended to discover who the prisoners and who the warders, in ‘Checkmate’ he finally makes that discovery…….little good it does him!

Be seeing you

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