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Intended as the finale to troubled-plagued season 17, this was the only
story that was canceled over mid-way through production due to a most
unfortunate strike at the BBC. Tom Baker stars as the fourth and most
popular Doctor, with beautiful Lalla Ward as his companion Romana (II),
and of course K-9(voiced by David Brierly for this season only) that
finds them visiting 1979 Earth to see old friend(and fellow Time Lord)
Professor Chronotis(played by Denis Carey) at his University, where
they learn that an ancient book from their home planet Gallifrey has
been stolen by evil scientist Skagra(played by Christopher Neame) in
his plan for universal domination.
Uneven story(typical of this season) has fine acting and nice location filming, but some silly elements as well that detract. What the final finished story would have looked like is speculative, and a great pity that it wasn't. Tom Baker introduces this story first released on VHS in 1992, then 20 years later on DVD, where at least fans can have the opportunity to judge for themselves on what would have been a six-part story, though counted here on IMDb as one story.
Still should be considered as canon, since it was (visually)referred to later in anniversary story 'The Five Doctors'.
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) has survived degree absolute, and is now
brought behind the scenes of power to meet number one, but first must
witness the trials of a resurrected number two(Leo McKern) and a number
48(Alexis Kanner) overseen by the president(played by Kenneth Griffith)
who lays out their crimes, though both men are defiant, and the
president promises allegiance to six, who is satisfied by his victory,
but wary of the tribunal and president, but accepts the invitation to
confront the elusive number one, so that all will be revealed, but
identity and power are not so easy to accept or fully explain, leading
to an astonishing unmasking, violent escape, and bizarre happenings
leading back to the beginning...
Legendary final episode is a shocking, surprising, audacious, courageous, infuriating and overall brilliant (and yes), satisfying conclusion, though much misunderstood by some not used to the bold and original approach taken by star, writer, and director Patrick McGoohan, who didn't end the series in a familiar "James Bond" style villain and approach, but instead created an inspired masterwork that challenges the expectations and provokes the intelligence of the audience to not be a passive viewer, but actually think about what they are seeing. Describing the on-screen doings is not enough; this demands to be seen as the most unpredictable, innovative episode of television ever aired, though of course some don't understand it, so instinctively dismiss it, yet to do so is an injustice.
Intensely fascinating and ultimately liberating, both incredibly serious yet defiantly inexplicable and comedic("All You Need Is Love" is most ironically used here.) Nothing like it has ever aired again, and it will never be forgotten, even if appreciation of it varies throughout the years. A breathtaking achievement that deeply moved and surprised me like nothing else ever broadcast. It is a sublime masterpiece, and I love it to pieces!
The new(and returning) number two(played by Leo McKern) is determined to once-and-for-all break the supremely resilient will of number six(Patrick McGoohan) and learn the reasons for his resignation from service, and agrees to "degree absolute", a technique which will only see one of them emerge alive. Six is again drugged and reverted to a child-like state in a sealed room with two, who acts as a father/ teacher figure to try and learn what makes him tick by exploring his past, but finds that the same iron-willed determination persists, eventually re-emerging to successfully challenge them both in and out of a most literal prison. Brilliant episode is supremely well acted by its two stars, aided by the silent butler(Angelo Muscat). Unforgettable imagery, plot, and ideas in a most fascinating journey into the bizarre, the truth about the village, and in particular the identity of number one...
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) is reading a children's story as this episode begins, which casts him in the familiar role of a secret agent sent to stop the evil plans of a mad scientist called Doctor Schnipps(played by Kenneth Griffith) who plots to fire a rocket at London, aided by his beautiful but deadly daughter called death(played by Justine Lord) who has laid many bombs, poisons, and booby-traps for him, which he successfully evades, as he closes in on them both in order to complete his mission. Enjoyable spoof episode with a neat ending is pretty lightweight stuff overall, but an amusing breather before the serious minded two-part series finale.
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) now finds himself a wandering gunfighter who arrives in the town of Harmony under the thumb of a corrupt judge who uses his wild-eyed assistant called the Kid(played by Alexis Kanner) to enforce his will, which calls for forcing the gunfighter to strap on his guns and work for him, something he refuses to do, and is bullied and beaten as a result, but ends up using his guns again to come to the aid of a saloon girl called Kathy(played by Valerie French) when she is threatened by the Kid, but of course things are not really as they seem...in some ways. Surprisingly fine episode makes excellent use of its western setting using it as an effective parable against the village, even if the outcome is about what you expect, though with a melancholy twist.
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) is stunned to find out one day that his body is no longer his own, as he has been used in a new device that has swapped his mind in another man's body, in this case called the colonel(played by Nigel Stock) and now he must find the inventor whom he once knew in order to reverse the process, which is exactly what the village wants, and why it has released him from his prison - sort of- since he most certainly wants his old body back! Easily the least in the canon doesn't look or feel at all like a part of the series, and is even absurd really(with an unconvincing fiancée!), but a neat twist ending compensates.
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) is attempting to exercise in private in the woods when he is attacked by a group of thugs who want to know why he doesn't use the gym and is anti-social. "Six" fights them off, but is later brought before a tribunal for being anti-social, or "unmutual" as they claim, and order him to be given a new social conversion treatment(a form of lobotomy) but this is really a ruse to fool him into believing that he has, in order to break him down and confess his reasons for resignation. Fascinating episode examines how even a strong-willed loner like him can still find public shunning uncomfortable, but his iron-will remains firm, as the misguided number two will find out.
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) learns of a plot to assassinate the retiring number two at the handover ceremony(with the new number two) using a bomb created by a watchmaker whose daughter tries to stop him, but "six" becomes concerned that if the plot is carried out, their will be terrible reprisals against the villagers that he feels compelled to stop, and uses the help of rebels, called "jammers" to aid him in this, but the real culprit is literally waiting in the wings for his own nefarious reasons... Confusing episode is among the least in the series because of it, as it feels too different from the norm, but still remains reasonably entertaining.
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) becomes enraged when he witnesses the suicide of a young woman that the new number two(played by Patrick Cargill) has provoked by his relentless and unmerciful questioning. "Six" informs him that he will stop at nothing to enact retribution against him, a challenge which an initially defiant number two gladly accepts, but six's plan is a most clever one, using this two's arrogance and ultimate paranoia against him, driving away the village supervisor(Peter Swanwick) and ever-present butler(Angelo Muscat) and leaving him to answer to number one... Brilliantly effective episode is immensely satisfying and ironic, with our hero triumphant like never before(though still a prisoner). One of the best.
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) discovers a new game literally being played in the village in the form of a human chess game being enacted on the village green, with select villagers being used as pawns by the players, who sit high-up in chairs shouting out the next move via megaphones. "Six" decides to join in, but the rebellion of a rook gets his attention, and he becomes involved in another plot of escape using fellow villagers in his aid against the new number two(played by Peter Wyngarde), though "six" will discover too late that mistrust and paranoia can also be used against himself...Memorable episode with iconic imagery and a most effective and ironic twist ending.
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