Patrick McGoohan

Patrick McGoohan

I've been rewatching the 1967 British series The Prisoner during the past few weeks. My brother and I got completely hooked on the show when it aired late at night in the late 80's/early 90's but I hadn't seen an episode in years until just recently (my brother's Christmas gift = box set of all 17 episodes). Smart. Stylish. Defiant. Enigmatic. The Prisoner is all these things in spades and remains one of the most intelligent and innovative shows in the history of television.

The plot centres around an ex British secret service agent who, when he mysteriously resigns, is abducted and brought to an Alice in Wonderland like village full of other captive spies to have his secrets extracted. The methods of extraction are not so much brutal as they are cerebral (even strangely whimsical at times) and the village is a prison without bars, full of bright colours and banal leisure activities. Aside from Number Two (no one in the village is allowed a name and are instead assigned numbers), it's often difficult to ascertain who is doing the keeping and who is being kept.

Watching "The Chimes of Big Ben" episode last night I marvelled (as you regularly do while watching The Prisoner) at main character Number Six's glorious wit and determined resistance. The experience made me doubly sad to learn that Patrick McGoohan, both the charismatic star of the show and its creator, passed away in Los Angeles yesterday at the age of eighty.

Patrick McGoohan has left a brilliant accomplishment in his wake and I'll be watching (and relishing) more episodes of The Prisoner tonight.

“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

—Number 6, Arrival
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