Reviews written by registered user
janemerrow

3 reviews in total 
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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Showcases Patrick McGoohan's dedication and versatility., 10 August 2003
8/10

People who only know Patrick McGoohan as a 60's action star or William Wallace's nemesis in Braveheart should see this if they get the chance. This award-winning performance is his most demanding dramatic role; not many actors could make an audience pity a man who was so unlikeable or pull off the balancing act on the edge of sanity this role requires.

Brand is a priest tormented by his calling. He believes man can only achieve salvation if he is willing to give all to God; if a person doesn't give all then he might as well be giving nothing. He also believes man's own worst enemy is inside himself; it's man's own wish for comfort and status which saps his will to give all to God.

Because of this philosophy, he impresses his childhood village with an act of heroism (insanity?) in the name of faith and they invite him to stay on as their priest, but he also refuses last rights to his mother, loses his child (whom he later refers to as an "idol") and then his wife, and attempts to lead his congregation on a march to the death for their own salvation.

The congregation stone him and leave him for dead in the mountains. In his delerium a vision of his wife appears, which he dismisses as an act of the Devil. But suddenly, momentarily lucid at the point of death, he feels the full weight of all he has lost and begs God to tell him what secret he has missed if the will to give "All or Nothing" is not enough to enter heaven.

This is a truly breathtaking performance that is not for the timid. But it's a thinking movie which requires concentration and suspension of disbelief, so you should wait until you're in the mood to think before watching it.

29 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
Don't let B/W scare you, this series is better than Bond!, 4 May 2003

Patrick McGoohan (The Prisoner, Scanners, Braveheart) stars as Secret Agent John Drake in this highly entertaining series full of quick dialogue, twist endings, and inventive storylines that would be right at home on Primetime TV now. McGoohan's subtle yet intense acting and well-choreographed fight scenes, as well as minorities and women in the roles of intelligent, important people are far ahead of their time and worth watching again and again. The characters have a fair amount of depth for a show that's primarily "us-against-them"; the bad guys are sympathetic and the good guys aren't squeaky-clean.

The fact that John Drake occasionally makes mistakes and has to improvise with his wits, luck and humor rather than a series of well-placed gadgets sets this series above the Bond films. It's fast-paced and tightly written...exceedingly clever overall.

McGoohan's acting style reminds me of both Mel Gibson and Ben Browder; he's capable of saying loads of things with no dialogue, is equally adept at humor, action and anger, and can flip emotions quickly. Today's audience may find some of the styles of the other actors a little dated, and the contrast is more pronounced because McGoohan is so much better than most of them.

FIGHTING: The fight scenes are inventive and action-packed. McGoohan's boxing experience shows, but he isn't limited to one fighting style, fights dirty when necessary and isn't above unexpectedly throwing furniture across a room or tossing an adversary down the stairs. There are several back-breaking stunts in the fight scenes which are probably not allowed any more, so if you're a fight buff as I am, they're worth rewinding.

GADGETS: The spy gadgets are for the most part items which could actually exist, and they are brought in as part of a plan rather than the Gothic Trick style gadgets of 007; Drake never has to hope that someone borrows his exploding pen at just the right time. I love Q's inventions, they add humor and flavor to the Bond films, but I find that I don't really miss them since it's clear Drake could beat Bond on an IQ test.

BONUS FOR THE LADIES: If you like James Bond (McGoohan actually turned down the role of James Bond -- twice), but prefer someone who's less of a rake with a bigger sense of humor, this is the guy for you. Not quite funny enough to beat Austin Powers, mind you, but he has better teeth. He's cute, clever and charming and I became a "Drake Drooler" upon my first viewing.

LOVE SCENES: While other characters kiss and have affairs and trade sex for secrets on the show, and Drake clearly enjoys the parties he attends and gambling with the Agency's money, the main character had not one kissing scene throughout the entire series, (which may have something to do with the fact Drake smokes constantly-- his lighter is a camera). I had thought this would make it seem dated, but actually it became an important detail of a well-crafted character, and is part of why I grew to like him better than Bond after only the first disk. I am speaking as a lifetime Bond fan, too, so it wasn't easy for me to admit.

BONUS FOR PRISONER FANS: Fans of McGoohan's cult hit The Prisoner will love to join the scavenger hunt and pick out the characters and clues that have led many to conclude that John Drake and Number 6 are one in the same, or at least that the Everyman in the Prisoner is represented by John Drake. (McGoohan categorically denies this, but it's more fun to play with it.)

Those who have watched The Prisoner may wish to start with set 2, which contains the episode Colony Three, the first appearance of a town full of spies referred to as "The Village". Villagers will also feel quite at home in "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove", a surreal look into Drake's mind in which he sees Death at every turn. The symbolic use of midnight, mirrors and reflection will satisfy your urge to dissect if you're one of the more fervent Prisoner fans.

Be Seeing You!

44 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
I find more in it, and it in more, every time I see it...., 29 April 2003
10/10

This has become by far my favorite series of all time, so much so I have given up watching television altogether and turned to DVD's instead. That's not to say it's the best show ever, but it's one of those things you can watch as fluff action-adventure entertainment one day, or chew down to its bones, if you like, the next. That is, it doesn't require intelligence and concentration or an easy day at the office to enjoy, but if you've read a few books or have philosophical leanings you can amuse yourself by wringing quite a bit out of it.

On that note, it's especially fun to watch this series in conjunction with Danger Man/ Secret Agent. Although it isn't uncommon to have the same actors work together on different series, there is a town full of spies in DM/SA

referred to as the Village in the episode "Colony Three" which is the center of a debate on whether Number 6 and John Drake are the same. (McGoohan categorically denies this, but Markstein says it's true. Perhaps there is a legal hurdle involved? We will probably never get that information.)

I recommend watching them in order, so you can see Number 6 gradually abandon his open desperation and anger ("Arrival" to "The Chimes of Big Ben") for a cool and calculated needling of the system from within ("A, B and C" to "Hammer Into Anvil"). They try drugs, brainwashing, torture, virtual reality, letting him escape, and even babysitting to get him to talk. Each episode will appeal to someone different, some funny, some aggravating, but they all fit together by "Fall Out"; I have never met anyone who was not surprised at the final episode. It's truly extraordinary!

You will find references to the Prisoner are made constantly in other shows and movies, especially Sci Fi. The character Bester uses the Village greeting on Babylon 5; I have seen Village interrogation methods on the Pretender, John Doe and Farscape (whose leading man has an acting style similar to McGoohan's and a character similar to Number 6, IMHO, especially if you watch "A, B and C"); Number 2's trademark sphere chair is used on everything from Austin Powers to ads for American Idol.

The Village itself has appeared in tribute episodes of the Invisible Man and, of all things, the Simpsons ("The Computer Wore Menace Shoes"). Rover has actually appeared on the Simpsons twice!

I believe it's a classic that shouldn't be missed for anyone who ever feels trapped by rules that make little sense. If you like quoting Brazil and Office Space you'll find plenty of quotes to add to your collection here. My friends and I have even started referring to each other by number at work!

Be Seeing You!