"The Prisoner," one of the most remarkable and challenging science fiction series of all time, follows "No. 6," a former government operative sent into a seemingly idyllic but twisted prison known as "The Village," where h... more »e struggles to retain his identity in the face of sophisticated and relentless attempts by the powers-that-be (known as "No. 2") to extract his secrets. "The Arrival" (pilot episode)--A first look at the Village, and The Prisoner, Number Six, its newest resident. "Free for All"--Elections are about to be held in the Village, including the position of Number Two. Will Number Six run, and can he win the election, and his freedom? "Dance of the Dead"--Sadistic, secretive experiments are performed on Number Six as the Village prepares for its annual carnival.« less
Sylvio Gonçalves | Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil | 08/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Prisoner is one of the most, if not the most, revolutionary science fiction show ever. Produced in the milestone year of 1968, this brief English series (17 episodes) discussed with unique boldness themes like information control, torture and brainwash procedures in authoritarian governments. Esthetically, the show mingles influences so diverse as Franz Kafka's The Trial, Orwell's 1984, Ingmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf, and the James Bond movies. The show was sold to ITC as a non-official sequel to the most popular "Secret Agent/Danger Man" series, starred by Patrick McGoohan. This time, McGoohan acted too as creator and producer, and used his freedom to talk about the role of the individual in a increasing oppressing society. He is an anonymous secret agent who resign his position. But he knows too much; doped by a mysterious figure, he awakens in what seemingly is a luxurious resort in a paradise island. But this place is no spa: is a prison in the open, where no one knows what are the others prisoners names, and in whom can trust. They even don't know who really are their captors: are they from "their" side or from the "other" side? They don't know and the viewer don't knows too. The agent himself receives a code, Number Six. "I am no number! I am a free man!", claims he repeatedly. But he will not be a free man till he succeeds in escape from the island. In the meantime, he have other important task in hand: maintains his sanity and individuality in a ambient where all of his movements are monitored, and where he frequently suffers torture and brainwash. The DVD release is great news. The three episodes are an excelent introduction to the series. "Arrival" is the very first one, where Number Six arrives to the island and meets for the first time the Number Two (the chief warder, a role assumed by a different actor/actress in each episode). "Free for All" is a parody to the election process. "Dance o the Dead" is the first of the "enigmatic" episodes in the show, with a plot that defies understanding. The Prisoner is rich in colors and sounds, that will be more appreciated digitally. The extras are very welcome, too. This series don't have the popularity that deserves, and, consequently, the material about it is very rare."
DVD release is the BEST order
Will | Barrie, ON Canada | 10/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Can't wait for the release of all The Prisoner episodes on DVD. Something has been made here that the episodes are being released out of order. It may not be that of the original broadcast order, but the release is actually re-ordered to better reflect the original order of the show as McGoohan wanted it. For example, the new order has 'Free For All' second, which makes sense when you see how No.6 acts. He trusts the captors and even says "I'm new here". The original broadcast had this episode 4th. This order has a better progression of No.6's stay in The Village, from confused, trusting captive to rebelling, scheming, untrusting and disharmonious (sp?). This release is being done with consultation with Six of One - The Prisoner Appreciation Society, with the trivia sets by the American Co-ordinator Bruce Clark. The best order of episodes (which the 2 DVDs have followed so far) is: Arrival/Free For All/Dance Of The Dead/Checkmate/The Chimes Of Big Ben/A, B and C/The General/The Schizoid Man/Many Happy Returns/It's Your Funeral/A Change Of Mind/Hammer Into Anvil/Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling/Living In Harmony/The Girl Who Was Death/Once Upon A Time/Fall Out. Enjoy the most fascinating show and a television classic on DVD, I certainly will. be seeing you..."
An odd selection of exceptional inspiration ...
Dr. Ingrid Augustin | 10/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'The Prisoner' is a one in a million sort of TV production. Not only was it the creation and main task of Patrick McGoohan to flesh out this 17 episode series, but he also starred in it and produced much of it as well. The unique and unconventional material along with its underlying essays about the world, authority, communities and group psychology makes it a work that could only come from one or perhaps two individuals maintaining a firm grasp on the creative side of the project. Made in 1968 it has some rather dated characteristics, yet is far more consuming then anything made these days. Why the DVD contains 3 episodes out of order in the series is a puzzle, although they are 3 very good episodes.People who love good spy action will love this series instantly. Those who like twisted puzzles and strange situations dealing with outer torment and inner rage will really get into 'The Prisoner'. As will those who love good acting, writting, production value and film work. In my book, this series is perhaps the top valued piece of television entertainment ever produced. With so much expression and skill behind a unique creation I doubt many would have room to argue. Sadly this series is a cult classic, and not recognized as more."
The Prisoner (a.k.a. Number 6) arrives in the Village
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Prisoner" remains one of the most original television dramas of all time and one of the first cult classics. Created and produced by actor Patrick McGoohan, the show was seen as a (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) sequel to McGoohan's hit series "Secret Agent," where he played a man named Drake. In "The Prisoner," McGoohan plays an unnamed high level, top secret agent who resigns from his job. As he backs his bags a white gas comes through the keyhole of the front door and knocks him out. He awakes in the Village, a Kafkaesque community in which he apparently imprisoned (actually a resort on Cardigan Ban in North Wales favored by famous writers like George Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward and Bertrand Russell). The three episodes presented here include the pilot episode, but the order in which episodes of "The Prisoner" should be viewed has always been open to debate. However, what we have here are the second episode to be filmed and the episode that was supposed to be aired second. "The Chimes of Big Ben," the second episode to air, is found on a different disc. Feeling confused yet?"Arrival," written by George Markstein and David Tomblin, and first aired on September 29, 1967. Our hero wakes up in the Village and discovers everyone kept there either has certain knowledge or lived a particular lifestyle of interest to the government. Names are not used here, and our hero is told he is now Number 6. The rules are explained to him by both Number Two (Guy Doleman) and the New Number Two (George Baker), but it is clear that our hero is not about to play well with others. In terms of hooking an audience, "Arrival" certainly accomplishes its mission. However, whereas the key to most stories is having the audience wondering what is happening next, with the Prisoner the viewer is never sure if they know what just happened let alone trying to anticipate the future. Down the road in "Free for All," written by Paddy Fitz and directed by McGoohan, which first aired on October 20, 1967, it is election time in the Village. Number 6 is persuade to stand for the position of the new Number Two (Eric Portman), although by this time it is clear that every episode is going to have a new Number Two. Of course, our hero is not interested in the position, but rather the opportunity to lead a breakout from the prison. He really should know better, because even winning a landslide victory is not going to do him any good. This was actually the second episode filmed, although it aired much later (this is clear to you, right?).There is more fun to be had in "Dance of the Dead," written by Anthony Skene and aired November 17, 1967, which was intended to be the second episode. It is carnival time in the Village and everybody gets to dress up and have fun. However, Number 6, who only wears a black tuxedo, is more interested in the dead body that has washed up on shore, seeing it as an opportunity to communicate with the outside world. This is one of the more tantalizing episodes because it begins with Number 6 drugged and duped into revealing some secrets and ends with him being tried for "crimes against the community." It seems like we might be close to understanding what is really going on, but, of course, that is but another illusion. Mary Morris plays Number 2 in this episode (Number 2 was in almost all of the episodes, but always played by a different actor. The only other character to appear in all of the episodes was the Butler, played by Angelo Muscat). You understand, of course, that once you watch these first episodes you will be hooked on the entire series. "The Prisoner" makes "The X-Files" look like a bastion of sanity. These brain candy episodes hold up remarkable well as compared to other television fare from the Sixties."
"We are democratic - in some ways..."
Dr. Ingrid Augustin | Vienna Austria | 05/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you have noticed the profound changes society has been undergoing during the past few decades and find them alarming, "The Prisoner" is the TV series for you. Far too complex and ahead of its time when it first aired in 1967, it has become more and more relevant ever since. Typically, the messages of great satires can be applied to an ever-increasing number of aspects of our existence over the time, and indeed, many of the most disturbing features of modern life are being dealt with or at least hinted at in "The Prisoner". This is why this is still highly enjoyable and recommendable TV - it is so much more than just another sixties spy series.The action takes place in the "Village", a beautiful place; outwardly a luxury seaside resort surrounded by picturesque mountains, it harbours a totalitarian society. Totalitarianism does not necessarily mean "a boot crushing a human face", as George Orwell put it in "1984", another immortal satire. A totalitarian regime may as well present itself as a superficially liberal, affluent society, devoid of the more explicit means of suppression like gulags and concentration camps we normally associate with it. It may just as well crush independent spirits slowly, insidiously with the help of relentless, pussy-footed propaganda and lowering of educational and subversion of moral and cultural standards. The more dumbed-down the citizens become, the more readily they believe every misinformation they are being fed.The basic outlines of "The Prisoner" are well known. After having been rendered unconscious by sleeping gas, the hero wakes up in "The Village", that colourful luxury prison for people who know too much. A prison it undeniably is, and like the other inmates, the man is first stripped of his name and assigned a number instead - six -, then of his personal clothes and belongings and given one of the Village uniforms, a simple and chilling symbol of being robbed of his individuality. Surveillance is constant, with intrusive cameras observing his every movement, hidden microphones recording every conversation. This sounds familiar, doesn't it? The ubiquitous Village propaganda - TV spots, posters, brought-in-line newspapers, piped messages - is uncannily similar to politically correct language or modern management-speak: verbose, yet at the same time impoverished as regards vocabulary, it conceals its true purposes with veiled, euphemistic expressions.Already on his first day in the Village, the new Number Six realises that his fellow inmates enjoy every material amenity but not freedom of any kind. He learns that rebellion is nipped in the bud and that only few of the citizens are courageous enough to speak their minds. Sinister things are going on behind the colourful facades of the Village, and the contrast between the utter loveliness of the surroundings and the methods of brainwashing and torture hinted at only heightens the feeling of menace and displacement pervading the whole series. Lewis Carroll's "Through The Looking Glass" comes into mind. The Prisoner soon learns what it means to be brought to hospital for "readjustment". "We have many ways and means," announces one particularly ruthless Village administrator in "Free For All", one of the darkest and most pessimistic episodes.All the Village authorities wish to know is why Number Six resigned from his confidential job. It is so little they want and so tempting to give in and settle down for a quiet life in the beautiful hell. But Number Six will have none of this and accepts the challenge. He refuses to cooperate; moreover, he fights back whenever possible, trying to escape or, especially in the later episodes, to unmask the powers that run the Village. The stage is set for a dramatic struggle.This first set contains three of the best episodes. "Arrival" has been called the best pilot episode ever made for television; "Free For All", written and directed by Patrick McGoohan himself, is a critical, scathingly intelligent comment on democracy and the election process, depressing and viciously funny at the same time; "Dance Of The Dead" is weird and wonderful, with stunning, beautifully filmed sequences. The "Alternative Chimes" may not display the highest picture and sound quality but it is a nice extra for true fans. This series is essential viewing for people who enjoy TV that is more than mere entertainment, who are aware that liberal societies are being assulted by not only one evil but several, and for those fond of satires like "1984", " Brave New World" or Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"."