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.
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Marvin LaRoy Sanders
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"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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Excellent until the last episode. Still one of televisions greatest moments.
"The Prisoner" was an excellent series until the last episode, "Fall Out". It wasn't perfect -- some episodes were better than others, and those that were intended to be part of the abortive "second season" were generally not as good as the first 13 episodes produced (note that these aren't necessarily the first 13 episodes aired...). However, the program was consistently entertaining, interesting, thought provoking, and unquestionably unique. I had watched various episodes of "The Prisoner" over the years (It ran a fair amount on educational television in the 1970s) and was very impressed with what I saw, but I didn't get a chance to see the concluding episode until many years later. To say that I was disappointed is a significant understatement.
The problem of setting up any "mythology" in a show, as Chris Carter found out with the "X Files", is that sooner or later you have to answer the questions that you've raised. That's where the last episode loses it -- it answers nothing about the previous 16 episodes, but rather asks a number of new questions, and then doesn't answer them either!
It would appear that the reason for the odd number of episodes of the Prisoner was that it was cancelled with 16 episodes either in the can, or still in production, and "Fall Out" was written in a great rush at the last minute to close out the series. Although in earlier interviews, MacGoohan said that all the answers were in the final episode, in a more recent interview, he has stated (regarding "Fall Out") -- "If anybody admits to understanding it, then please pass the understanding on to me."
I don't know if there would have been a more coherent ending if the premature cancellation had not occurred, or if original producer George Markstein (who left after the first 13 episodes due to differences with Patrick MacGoohan) had stayed. Overall, it is a pathetic end to an otherwise superb series. Mind you, the fact that there wasn't a coherent ending (plus the presence of lots of symbolism to encourage endless debate on what it all *really* means) is probably the main reason for the cult attraction of the series. Even with the inadequate ending, this series is a highlight of how thought provoking television can be if it's done properly.
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