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Monday, 5 October 2020

Watching The Prisoner - Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling


    Time to watch another episode of the Prisoner, as though in real time. The original script called ‘Face Unknown’ has ZM73 waking up on the morning he was supposed to hand in his letter of resignation. He wrote the letter the night before. But ZM73 thinks there is something different, out there, but there’s nothing different, nothing has changed, outside it’s just the same as it has always been. The London street, his Lotus parked outside. As he pockets the letter he heads for the door, and leaving the house rushed to his parked Lotus, climbs in, starts the engine, revs the engine. Of course its different, of course things are different. Because I am resigning…!”
This episode is easy to date to October 5th 1967 for the simple reason that ZM73 disappeared a year ago, having been abducted to the village. The last time Janet Portland saw her fiancé was at the final fitting of her dress, yellow silk, she hasn’t seen him since!
It is lucky for the village administration, and perhaps for Sir Charles, that No.6 was in the village seeing as he was the last to have contact with Doctor Saltzman, otherwise they would be in the impossible position, as they wouldn’t know where Saltzman was!

    One might imagine if No.6 wasn’t in the village, those “masters” who wanted to know where Saltzman {I use Salzman because that’s the original spelling in the script} is, they would have had ZM73 either seconded to the village, or abducted there in order to carry out their plan behind ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling.’
It was about a year ago when ZM73 wrote to Saltzman in Scotland, and in keeping that location to himself, not divesting it to anyone, was ZM73 protecting Doctor Seltzman from even his own people? Was Seltzman part of the reason why ZM73 resigned? Perhaps it’s simply coincidence.

When the Colonel/ZM73 had selected the correct numbered slides according the name SALTZMEN 19-1-12-20-26-13-5-14 {that’s why they had to change the spelling of the name they couldn’t have two ‘a’s’ in Saltzman} he placed them all together in the projector. Then he takes a pair of spectacles from the breast pocket of his blazer adding two different coloured lenses. They are in fact sunglass shades used by people who have to wear spectacles. But that’s not important, what is important is, why is No.6 wearing spectacles when he’s never worn spectacles before! Yes they are the Colonel’s spectacles, but the prescription for the lenses wouldn’t be the right for No.6. Especially as he doesn’t wear spectacles for either distance or reading! As an added note, judging by the pink tinge to the Colonel’s spectacle frames, they look like National Health spectacles. And yet, seeing as ZM73’s handwriting is still the same, would he really need spectacles?

I mentioned imponderables before in a previous write-up for “Watching The Prisoner,” well this episode outstrips any other episode on those grounds, and indeed ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ is notorious for having so many unanswered questions.

Did Sir Charles Portland know of the village’s existence, was he one of those so called “masters?”

Was it Sir Charles who took the decision to have his future son-in-law taken to the village? If so it’s no wonder he didn’t tell his daughter where her fiancé was!

How did those behind the village acquire the Saltzman machine?

Why was it so important that Professor Saltzman had perfected the reversal process, when all that had to be done was put the same two subjects through the exact same process!

Was it really wise to have left that receipt for the roll of film with Janet Portland? That made it easy for her father Sir Charles to get his hands on it!

Where is Saltzman, and who wanted to know? We started off with Sir Charles and some of his colleagues looking at slides in his office. It is clear they want to know where Professor Saltzman is. Also there is a Saltzman machine in a laboratory in the village. So are we dealing with two separate entities, or just the one? If the British are behind the village then it’s British Intelligence, if not then there are two sides in the race to get their hands on Professor Saltzman!

In having acquired the Professor’s location ZM73 went on his merry way to Kandersfeld in Austria, followed by Potter, followed by an undertaker, an agent working for the village disguised as a chauffeur. Or as my wife likes to think, a tour coach driver! In the basement of the barber’s shop the Colonel/ZM73 is discovered by Potter. A fight ensues, however they are both subdued by the tour coach driver {undertaker}. The said undertaker eventually takes both Saltzman and the Colonel/ZM73 back to the village, would that be in a coach, or two coffins in the back of his hearse? If that wouldn’t have been difficult enough for one man alone, what of Potter? Was he left in the basement still unconscious from the affects of the nerve gas, was he also to one day wake up in the village having been taken back there along with the Professor and the Colonel/ZM73? What a task that would have been for the undertaker all on his own!

If Potter had been left behind still unconscious in the basement of the barber's shop, he’d certainly have some explaining to do to Sir Charles at having lost Professor Saltzman to the other side. But then if Sir Charles is behind the village………well its all very complicated, and as the original scriptwriter for of ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ Vincent Tilsley once said “they turned a bad script into an incomprehensible one.” That’s because messers McGoohan and Tomblin messed it about, making amendments to the script. If only they had left it alone!
    One final question, in the final mind transference when Professor Saltzman managed to change the minds of three people at the same time, how did the Colonel know when to pull the four jack plugs out of the EKG Simulator box?
The one thing we can be sure of regarding ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ we can be sure of nothing. Although this episode is unique in its quality of music, that music for me is the best in ‘the Prisoner’ series of any of the episodes.

Also this episode sees a change in the Prisoner, or perhaps a beginning if you prefer, in that ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ is the first episode of a second series which takes place more out of the village and more in the outside world a category ‘Many Happy Returns’ dovetails with very nicely.

Next time our friend No.6 tries living in Harmony, and finds both the judge and the town, not to his suiting.

Be seeing you

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