It could be argued that 1960s were generally not a time of quality and informative programming in television history; the possible exception being the 1967 television series “The Prisoner”. My mother first became a fan of this series and soon I was also hooked. “The Prisoner” was one of the most intriguing and intelligent programs I believe ever to grace the airwaves. Almost nothing in television offering has ever come close to this level of thought-provoking intrigue… that is, until now. AMC (American Movie Classics) has announced the release of three two-our episodes of a modern “reinterpretation” of this classic series. From the trailers I have viewed, it promises to be as riveting and thoughtful as the original.
The premise of the original series is that a man (implied secret agent, become disillusioned with his work) is spirited away to an unknown location known only as “The Village”. It is a charming resort-like small town with friendly inhabitants, all known by numbers, not names. The protagonist played by actor Patrick McGoohan (formerly Secret Agent Man) wakes up in the congenial village as citizen No. 6. He spends the intervening episodes attempting to find out who runs the village and attempting to escape.
There is continual intellectual sparring between No. 6 and No. 2, each trying to break the will of the other – No. 2 to determine why No. 6 resigned, and No. 6 who refuses to yield his personal freedom and relentlessly attempts to escape.
I have purchased the old episodes and have continued to enjoy watching them again over the years. Though produced in a time of the Cold War, surveillance is prevalent in The Village. The underlying themes regarding the balance between public security and privacy remain timely to this day. And it is on these foundations that the new Prisoner series relies. Where do loyalties truly lie? Who can you really trust? Even your own mind and perceptions could be suspect… can self doubt be used as a weapon? Are we really “free” or is freedom an illusion?
So captivated by the theme of being held against ones will though plied with comfort and security, my wife and I extended the metaphor to our respective employment. To celebrate our “escape” we had a Prisoner Party as the theme to our retirement.
The director promises that this show will be anything but predictable; you will need to keep your wits about you as No. 6 and you attempt to escape The Village and determine are we truly free men… or are we merely numbers.
Be seeing you.
Original Series Trailer: