You are hereEpisode 6 of Hitchhiker's Guide to British Sci-Fi

Episode 6 of Hitchhiker's Guide to British Sci-Fi

By Louis Trapani - Posted on 03 September 2009

Hitchhiker's Guide to British Sci-Fi - Episode 6
Running Time: 1:03:09

Previewing The Prisoner Remake, Blake's 7 - Where to Begin, Life on Mars Feedback, and more.

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I really appreciated the discussion of The Prisoner, but I felt much had been left out.

I originally watched The Prisoner on CBS when it aired in the late 60s. I had been a fan of Secret Agent (originally known in the UK as Danger Man) when it was rebroadcast on CBS. Patrick McGoohan's series had ridden on the coattails of Bond and portrayed a grittier version of spycraft than anything Fleming had invented.

When Danger Man/Secret Agent finally ran its course, McGoohan followed with The Prisoner and "everything changed."

The Prisoner was very much a creature of the late 60s. The Beatles and Stones ruled Rock. 1968 saw revolution in the streets of Paris and Chicago. "Who killed the Kennedy's? -Well, after all, it was you and me." Questions, questions, questions.

McGoohan decided to question the whole idea of the indivdual versus the state/the group/the world and used his "John Drake" image to accomplish it. He never explicitly stated the Number 6 was John Drake, but the implication was there. The ordered world of the cold warrior became the convoluted interior landscape of the Village. This was the path from reality to "reality".

The messages of man versus society played out across seventeen episodes of the most daring and personal television series ever created.

Number 6 was doomed by his very existence. He couldn't exist within or without the society, as was driven home by Number 2, repeatedly. Number 2 never won and never lost. It was clear from the first who Number 1 was, and the final episode only confirmed it.

In a time of upheaval and revolution, McGoohan explored what it meant to be human in a very profound way. Looking back, it is stunning to think that CBS actually aired the series. it sure wasn't like anything they had aired before, and they would never come close again. Nor would anyone else.

The Prisoner could only have been made in those chaotic closing years of the 60s. The remake is nostalgia for all of us aging baby-boomers. It can never capture the feel of the era in which the original was created. We can but hope it can create something new from its own context.



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