The Prisoner (TV Series 1967–1968) Poster


Alternate Versions

An alternative version of "Chimes of Big Ben", the second episode to be broadcast, is available on video. Besides different closing credits, the opening credit sequence features different music as well. In addition, several scenes that were never aired appear in this version, including one that indicates No. 6 has already located the Village, not only rendering the rest of the episode moot, but also much of the series!
British video releases of the series in the early 1980s edited episodes together into several 2-hour "movies." Some of these have been televised.
CBS Television Network in the United States refused to carry the episode "Living in Harmony", supposedly due to its anti-war message (the hero refuses to carry a gun). At the time CBS claimed their rejection was due to the use of hallucinogenic drugs in the plot. While many prefer the anti-Vietnam scenario over the drug theory, several facts support CBS' version. First, they had already broadcast two episodes of entertainment series that were clearly against U.S. involvement in southeast Asia ("Route 66", March 22, 1963; "Twilight Zone", Sept. 27, 1963). Secondly, the drugs in "Harmony" are quite different from those used in other "Prisoner" episodes. On most occasions, they have no more in common with recreational "junk" than truth serum as seen in more realistic spy dramas, while the plan here was to take our hero and "fill him with hallucinotory drugs....dis-orient him" according to the episode's dialogue. There is actually a third theory that is more likely than either of those. "Living In Harmony" is not identified as a segment of "The Prisoner" until the end, unless you recognize star Patrick McGoohan, the parallels to "Arrival", and the typeface used in what credits there are (the episode title appears to be the series title). When the program was first broadcast in the U.K., in some regions (it wasn't shown simultaneously across the country as in the U.S.) superimposed the words "The Prisoner" over the image at the beginning. Star/Executive Producer/Creative driving force Patrick McGoohan reportedly didn't like this at all, but it would have forewarned him to contractually prohibit CBS from doing the same thing. According to this theory, CBS declined to air the episode rather than gamble on the intelligence of their audience.
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)
Alternate versions of the opening credit sequence were created for non-English speaking countries. The file-cabinet drawer ahows the word "RESIGNED" in the applicable language. Examples of this "foreign file drawer" footage were released as bonuses in the A&E DVD release.
A preliminary edit of the first episode, "Arrival", was broadcast by accident on one PBS station in the 1970s. Although the original negative of this edit has been lost, a videotape copy was discovered and released on DVD in 2002. Among the major differences from the officially broadcast version:
  • Different theme music and differently edited opening credits (same as the alternate version of "Chimes of Big Ben.")
  • Slight differences in the sequence where No. 6 wakes up in the Village for the first time.
  • A longer version of the sequence where No. 6 tours The Village by taxi.
  • When Rover is introduced, it does not kill a villager as it does in the televised version.
  • Longer version of the sequence where No. 6's radio-controlled helicopter returns to the Village.
  • Different closing credits, ending with an image of Earth and the universe turning into the pennyfarthing bicycle logo. Also, Wilfred Josephs is credited as musical director.

See also

Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Connections | Soundtracks

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