The Prisoner (1967–1968)
8.1/10
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4 user 2 critic

Once Upon a Time 

Because all other attempts to break Number 6 have failed, Number 2 decides to engage him in a game where one of them will end up dead.

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
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Angelo Muscat ...
Peter Swanwick ...
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Umbrella Man
John Maxim ...
Number Eighty Six (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

Number Two conducts tests on Number Six to force him to reveal why he resigned but Number Six's iron will resists and he uses psychology to turn the tables so that his interrogator ends up grovelling to him. Still refusing to answer Number Six watches as Number Two is locked in a cage after which he requests that he sees Number One. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi

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Release Date:

28 January 1968 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The characterization of Number Six in this episode is significantly different from previous episodes. During the series, Number Six's initial fury and apprehension towards the Village eventually transitioned into the manner of a suave, obstinate rebel who now carried himself with assurance and certainty in resisting the Village. However, in this episode, Number Six is edgy and tense, pacing back and forth in his kitchen without the casual ease of previous episodes, and his interactions with the Villagers have become bizarre, with his accosting the Umbrella Man who seems eager to avoid him. As "Once upon a Time" was shot sixth and held back as a potential end-season cliffhanger, it may be that plans to develop Six's characterization to this state were curtailed by the sudden cancellation. See more »

Goofs

When they are bantering back and forth in the last minute countdown the speed of the second hand on the clock slows down. At first it is spinning at a rate of about 6 seconds per revolution but slows down considerably in following scenes. This could be deliberate considering the nature of the episode See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Number Two: [shouting at the butler] Wait! Remove it! I told you to remove it!
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Soundtracks

Almeria
(uncredited)
Written by Paul Bonneau
Chappell Recorded Music Library
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User Reviews

 
A Standalone Episode Worthy of Accolade
1 September 2009 | by (internal exile) – See all my reviews

I remember when the series first played in the US. We had just gone through the "Battle of Chicago" and were about to begin the slow slide into mediocrity with the election of Richard Nixon. We were a year after the "summer of love" and a year before "Woodstock Nation". Drugs were still a new phenomenon in the American middle class, and enough of us believed that there was still hope to galvanize a huge portion of the population. And then, in the middle of it all, came the face of a smiling No. 2....

The Prisoner is truly an archetypal series. It so accurately reflects its time in both its excellences and its deficiencies. There's no question that the majority of the episodes play better to a cannabinolized audience; and I won't argue with someone seeing the series in the 21st century for the first time who complains that there are so many plot holes and bad acting in so many of the episodes that they can't understand why anyone would consider this worthwhile.

But then, there's "Once upon a Time".

This is more than an episode. It's more than a TV show. It is high drama and classic stagecraft. When seen without commercials, it has the impact of a Beckett or Pinter one-act. It is unquestionably McGoohan's magnum opus. I expect that someday, perhaps in the not too distant future, someone will get the idea of putting it onstage, along with "The Dumb Waiter" or "Play", so that the author will get the recognition he deserves as a playwright. But in the meantime, if you have any affection for "theatre of the absurd" or "comedy of menace", you should make this episode a must see. And if you've started the series but have lost your enthusiasm after an episode or two, skip right to this. Once you understand the premise, you don't need all of the prior 15 episodes to fully immerse yourself in what cannot be denied is an exemplar of 20th century dramaturgy.


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