After resigning, a secret agent is abducted and taken to what looks like an idyllic village, but is really a bizarre prison. His warders demand information. He gives them nothing, but only tries to escape.
John Drake (Patrick McGoohan) is a special operative for N.A.T.O., specializing in security assignments against any subversive element which threatened world peace. The series featured ... See full summary »
"The Prisoner" is a unique piece of television. It addresses issues such as personal identity and freedom, democracy, education, scientific progress, art and technology, while still remaining an entertaining drama series. Over seventeen episodes we witness a war of attrition between the faceless forces behind 'The Village' (a Kafkaesque community somewhere between Butlins and Alcatraz) and its most strong willed inmate, No. 6. who struggles ceaselessly to assert his individuality while plotting to escape from his captors.Written by
Stuart Berwick <email@example.com>
It has been speculated that Number Six is in fact John Drake from Patrick McGoohan's earlier series, Danger Man (1960) and Secret Agent (1964). Several references to the earlier series appear, many bit players are common between them, and some believe he is referred to by name in one episode (though others interpret the dialogue differently). Although McGoohan vehemently denied that #6 is Drake, he seems to have been out-voted, as co-writer George Markstein) said yes, and officially sanctioned novels based on the series refer to Number Six as John Drake. See more »
During the intro sequence, when No 6 is getting out of his car, a trapped hair can be seen in the bottom left of the shot. See more »
Patrick McGoohan does not receive on-screen acting credit on the final episode "Fall Out." His on-screen credit simply reads "Prisoner." See more »
When it first aired in French, the episode title "The General" and all references in the dialogue were changed to "Le cerveau" (The Brain), presumably to avoid any reference to General De Gaulle (then the country's leader) See more »
I find more in it, and it in more, every time I see it....
This has become by far my favorite series of all time, so much so I have given up watching television altogether and turned to DVD's instead. That's not to say it's the best show ever, but it's one of those things you can watch as fluff action-adventure entertainment one day, or chew down to its bones, if you like, the next. That is, it doesn't require intelligence and concentration or an easy day at the office to enjoy, but if you've read a few books or have philosophical leanings you can amuse yourself by wringing quite a bit out of it.
On that note, it's especially fun to watch this series in conjunction with Danger Man/ Secret Agent. Although it isn't uncommon to have the same actors work together on different series, there is a town full of spies in DM/SA
referred to as the Village in the episode "Colony Three" which is the center of a debate on whether Number 6 and John Drake are the same. (McGoohan categorically denies this, but Markstein says it's true. Perhaps there is a legal hurdle involved? We will probably never get that information.)
I recommend watching them in order, so you can see Number 6 gradually abandon his open desperation and anger ("Arrival" to "The Chimes of Big Ben") for a cool and calculated needling of the system from within ("A, B and C" to "Hammer Into Anvil"). They try drugs, brainwashing, torture, virtual reality, letting him escape, and even babysitting to get him to talk. Each episode will appeal to someone different, some funny, some aggravating, but they all fit together by "Fall Out"; I have never met anyone who was not surprised at the final episode. It's truly extraordinary!
You will find references to the Prisoner are made constantly in other shows and movies, especially Sci Fi. The character Bester uses the Village greeting on Babylon 5; I have seen Village interrogation methods on the Pretender, John Doe and Farscape (whose leading man has an acting style similar to McGoohan's and a character similar to Number 6, IMHO, especially if you watch "A, B and C"); Number 2's trademark sphere chair is used on everything from Austin Powers to ads for American Idol.
The Village itself has appeared in tribute episodes of the Invisible Man and, of all things, the Simpsons ("The Computer Wore Menace Shoes"). Rover has actually appeared on the Simpsons twice!
I believe it's a classic that shouldn't be missed for anyone who ever feels trapped by rules that make little sense. If you like quoting Brazil and Office Space you'll find plenty of quotes to add to your collection here. My friends and I have even started referring to each other by number at work!
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