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Reviews & Ratings for
"Prisoner" More at IMDbPro »

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23 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

"Fine to watch after the pubs closed!",

Author: Graham Watson from Gibraltar
6 July 2006

By the time prisoner graced our screens in 1988 it had already been canceled in its native Australia after a seven-year run (ending in 1986). In the UK it was not aired on prime time but found itself relegated to the post 11.00pm watershed probably because of it's risky and controversial story lines. Depending on what region you lived in, could be found any time after midnight.(In fact quite often Thames would screen it from 11.00 -12-00 and if you could pick up Anglia TV they would show it from 12.00 - 01.00 but a couple of seasons ahead.) Fortunately for prisoner by 1986 the four terrestrial channels had finally entered the 20thC and began broadcasting all through the night, therefore, shows such as prisoner became the ideal type of television to fill these new slots.

Needless to say this Aussie import like all the others soon developed it's own cult following. Unlike most of the other goody-goody Auzzie soaps that were located in middle class locations with spoiled teenagers and dopey grown ups working in coffee shops, prisoner by contrast was mostly broadcast in a windowless claustrophobic environment of a correctional facility.

Wentworth prison as with most prison TV shows had all the stereotypes. Those included were the heartless senior members of the staff who were totally committed to punishment and discipline who were of course held in check by the jelly-spined social workers and the well intentioned Governess who not surprising clung to the hope that these women could be rehabilitated. The inmates too had there's, the 'Top Dog', 'the dike', the gang leaders with their 'wenchmen', the hard cases, the old timer the whiner, the non conformist and last but not least the 'nark' or 'snitch'.

The main theme of the prisoner story lines broadly focused on the inmates standing up to the seemingly petty and inflexible rules of the prison system, (i.e. don't let the bastards grind you down scenarios). Yet prisoner also grappled with some of the every day problems that many of the women were forced to come to terms with, lesbianism, bullying, sadistic guards, prison gangs, and drugs.

For some viewers this no doubt provided a refreshing alternative to the bland political news shows that were broadcast after the pubs closed. Having said that, a few pints of lager was probably the order of the day as the Wentworth inmates at best were not easy on the eye and at worst just plain scary! As any warm-blooded male with tell you after alcohol consumption a lot of homely women begin to look respectable. In all fairness without a decent hairdresser or make up, denim overalls and dungarees are never going bring the best out of any woman, so perhaps that's what made many of the actors believable, no Charlie's angels here.

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

So dramatic, so intense

Author: stekflott from sweden
22 July 2003

If you live in Sweden and were to say "I watch 'Prisoner'" to one of your friends, you would get a big laugh. You would probably be mocked for eternity. I too was one of the mockers, one of the bullies. My brother once told me he watched Prisoner, I laughed hard and long but then realised that he didn't have much choice since he didn't have cable and hence nothing to watch late at night. The summer of 2003 things changed. I shared an apartment with him during this summer and he forced me to watch it. O boy, it didn't take long to understand what I had missed during these long years.

The show is really dramatic and even though some of the actors/actresses aren't the best (and damn right ugly!) or the visual dramatic effects are pretty poor. The storyline and the plot are really well thought of and every episode is really packed with action and drama. If you were to compare it to another long running show like Days of Our Lives, DoOL wouldn't stand a chance. If you miss a week of episodes of Prisoner you miss A LOT, and when you come back to watch you wouldn't know what's going on. However if you miss a month of DoOL and come back to watch, you're still in the game and know exactly what's going on since one single small event can last for a week of episodes. They story advances really fast in Prisoner and that's what makes it so different from all the modern soap operas which are advancing DoOL style; slow as hell.

The only thing I fear now is whether I'll be able to find the time to watch all the upcoming episodes of Prisoner - I really don't want to miss one single episode!

My name is stekflott and I am a Prisoner addict.

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Best TV-series ever!

Author: Steffe from Motala, Sweden
17 April 2000

This is the best series ever shown on television. It has it all! Laughs, nerves, drama and heart. It´s not at all like any other soap-opera. One thing I like about the show is that it´s about the weak in society. Women in prison, what group can possibly be lower on the scale? And this series is totally on their side! Everything about this series is great! See it!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Psychologists: Take note, This is the Zenith of Television

Author: Israfel31 from California
7 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to say that I have rather varied tastes. But one thing that is a hallmark of my experience is quality. That coupled with heart and soul ~ compassion, if you will. Prisoner Cell Block H is an OUTSTANDING program, that still all these years after it's initial airing, maintains it's merit and worth as a statement on the human condition. Timeless are the topics central to many in our society who fall victim to the pitfalls of survival. Drug abuse, alcoholism, molestation, crime recidivism: all dealt with in astonishing wisdom. Discrimination due to sexual orientation is delved into here and shows quite eloquently not only the intrinsic nature of homosexuality, but how a supposed civilized society continually marginalizes and maligns them. Many labels of judgment harshly placed, or, status attitudes of negative light are observed here too. Those who've made mistakes who now have a prison record are explored here with depth and empathy. Similar to homosexuality, those with prison records (not brushes with the law, but an arrest be it only for a parking ticket or minor drug possession: 420) are still allowed to be barred from housing and/or job opportunities simply because other people don't "approve" of them.

Psychologists, or those wanting to enter the field should have this program as required viewing. What makes people tick? Why would a "sadistic" guard actually enjoy hurting, traumatizing and tormenting other people ~ even if they only consider them nothing more than animals? This program shows the inherent flaw of the Bible's an eye for an eye ~ and how all that does is lead the world to blindness. Time and again we are shown that revenge doesn't lead us to any higher plane, but instead leads us down ever darker paths of sadness and destruction.

This series was the first and still is, as of this writing, the only to explore the abuses people do to each other In such realistic and imaginative tones. The damage that labels have in our civilization have a lasting and lifetime tidal wave affect. Many who are tormented when young often bring that into adulthood and somewhere it's passed down the line. To me what this show brings home is that we are all one~ one in humanity. It is our choice then how to proceed in life when there are circumstances that lead us to stumble and fall. We can choose to remain prisoners to others or we can work to transform our situations and experience the windfall of life where the roses grow.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Prisoner scared me as a kid, but now I'm addicted to it..

Author: Ashley Wincer from Australia
21 August 2008

I must admit, Prisoner scared me as a kid when it was on Channel 10 at 8:30pm. I watch it now, and it's quite funny to watch.

I am very thankful that ALL 692 episodes have been put on DVD. So far I am up to episode 320 and I'm loving it. Sets that shake when a character gets roughed up against the brick walls of Wentworth. It is just classic. Locks on security doors that probably don't work, but characters spend time making noise with the keys.

Lovable characters, such as Bea Smith, Old Lizzie, Sandy Edwards, Meg Jackson/Morrison, Vera Bennett, Steve Falkner, Smart, Jim Fletcher, and many many others.

Based on what I have seen so far, Vera Bennett and The Freak Furgesson would not have played well together. They really are two very different types of characters who would have clashed at all levels. Vera may have been hard towards the prisoners, but she was brutally honest. As for the Freak, as the most bent officer so far, she causes a lot of the problems faced by Wentworth. Vera would not have stood for it.

It is good to see the camera work and lighting has improved over the years, in some scenes the lighting is actually quite bad. Sometimes it is actually hard to see what is going on in the dark scenes.

From time to time some of the same actors re-appear as different characters, but thats a soap opera for you.

If you have not had a chance to watch Prisoner yet, give it a shot. As badly made as it is, it is also addictive to watch. I plan on watching all episodes of Prisoner. I recommend you give it a shot too.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Better Than "Oz"

Author: fredneitzsche from Heaven
19 May 2000

This is certainly the best prison show ever, and probably the best soap opera/melodrama ever, too. It's humor and lack of pretension make it 100 times better than "Oz" will ever be. Of course, setting it in a women's prison gave the creators a lot more freedom in dealing with characters. We have fewer preconceptions so they couldn't rely on stereotypes like they do on "Oz". It would be neat, in a way, if they could have Vera (aka Vinegar Tits) guest star as a guard on Oz. She'd straighten that place up in short order! Somebody please bring this back to American TV!!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Daring for its time

Author: Wayne Malin ( from United States
28 August 2007

This ran over here in America at 11:30 at night on a local station. There was a lot of controversy about it at first. The plots dealing with lesbians, beatings, murder, rape etc. etc. were pretty strong for TV back then. But it never really caught in Boston at least. It ran for a few months almost uncut (some words were bleeped out) and then was cancelled due to low ratings.

I was in college when it played here and it was great! After a long night of studying it was kind of fun to relax and watch this somewhat campy prison soap. The acting was pretty bad and the story lines were more than a little unbelievable but it was a lot of fun to watch. Also it moved much quicker than your typical afternoon soap. So it was a fun and daring soap for its time. I'm not sure if it would hold up today. Shows like "Oz" have gone a lot farther than this could.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Ahhhhh Nostalgia, Prisoner was great fun!!!!

Author: cool_cool_1 from United Kingdom
3 August 2006

Prisoner Cell Block H was a mainstay on T.V here in the U.K, back in the 80's/early 90's it was shown every week, it was great fun, it had everything, great characters (good and bad), brilliant story lines and it was very addictive, it was truly great, lots of the actors have since appeared in programmes like Home and Away and Neighbours.

In this day and age we have a prison drama series called "Bad girls", it try's to be like Prisoner in many ways, but there will only ever be one "Prisoner Cell Block H", this was a classic and i will never forget it.

If you're a younger person and are a fan of prison drama's or generally great T.V programmes then i urge you to seek out the awesome Prisoner Cell Block H, you will soon become addicted.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Through the looking glass

Author: emuir-1 from United States
9 September 2013

It is ironic that a country which was founded as a penal colony to relieve Britain's overcrowded jails should have scored a world wide hit with a drama series about women in prison.

The characters in the series are a varied selection of women, from the rougher classes to the more refined, and all are serving sentences, some deserved, and others not so. There is the unrepentant assertive Bea who murdered her philandering husband the day after she got out of jail for another offense. Her comical sidekick, Birdy, an alcoholic old lag doing time for putting rat poison in the food she served as a cook on a sheep station to teach the shearers a lesson. A refined elderly woman who has served 12 to 16 years (it seems to vary) for the mercy killing of the husband she loved. A deeply religious teacher whose abusive husband had forced her to abort her child, only to find him in bed with his best friend's wife when she got home, whereupon she stabbed him to death. The porn actress/prostitute finding ways to be alone with the male electrician, drug dealers and a girl wrongfully accused of kidnapping a child.

There is humour, and also pathos. Some of the women know of no other life and have nowhere to go when they are released, and quickly get themselves arrested to return to jail. The old lag Birdy is one of them. After years of looking forward to her first drink (not counting the surgical spirit she has been stealing from the clinic) she cannot cope with the outside and feels that the prison was her home, and where all her friends are. Some of them are released only to find they are an embarrassment to their families and not wanted. While the stories of the women are grim and sad, many having been abused as children by drunken fathers or as wives by abusive husbands, the humorous banter never stops. The women get up to all kinds of capers to break the rules without being caught.

Anyone who is not familiar with Australia and the more British way of life and customs, may feel that there is something a little off at first and at times downright odd. They speak English differently, using colloquial expressions unique to Australia, and they swear a lot. They drive on the other side of the road. There is a portrait of the Queen on the office walls. Women tend to dress more smartly. The abused wives would rather go to jail than let their friends know they were abused. Everyone has a home bar and drinks liquor at any time of day and even the prison governor has a few bottles on the sideboard in her office. The interiors of the Melbourne homes is atrocious - loud patterns violently clashing. Drapes, wall paper, carpets and furniture are all patterned in lurid colors and none of them coordinate. As the series was made in the late 70's, no one yet has a computer or cell phone, there are many missed connections. If you haven't got the money for the phone box, you can't make the call. A prisoner is arrested for murder and her trial is in five days!!! They sure know how to speed up the system down under.

The wardens vary from kind and understanding to harsh and bitchy. The governor is the most incompetent dogooder and makes you wonder how she ever got the job, let alone keeps it. She reads the riot act at least twice per episode.

The overall standard of production and acting is surprisingly good considering that Australia did not have much of a film industry or TV production at the time and the budget was miniscule. The actors would have been mostly stage actors and there would not have been too many as some actors appear in different parts throughout the series, which makes for a fun guessing game. If you can ignore the rather low budget look, the terrible interior decoration, the sometimes amateur acting, and just enjoy the sparkling script and the fast pace of the series, it can be a very enjoyable and very addictive experience. I wish American soap operas were like this.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, Absolutely Brilliant!!

Author: riley453 from United Kingdom
22 January 2005

Excellent, gripping, funny and over the top. Inside the gates of Wentworth Detention Centre are housed the most dangerous criminals in H Block. From the camp style of true English upper class snobbery of Erica Davidson, who is Govenor, to the evil, sadistic, cruel ways of the "Freak" Joan Ferguson.

From episode one the main story line has you gripped, and through out all 692 episodes you will be a fanatic. Riots, fires, murders, LSD trips, bashings - everything you could ask for in a prison drama and more.

Well worth renting or buying, you will NOT be sorry! 12 out of 10! A+++

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