Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday - You Escaped, Number 6

While surfing around on yet another blog surfing site called I was saddened today to learn of the death of Patrick McGoohan. He was 80 years old. Same age as my father-in-law would have been had he not smoked himself to death in 1993.

Patrick McGoohan's Number Six was one of my favorite characters in all of television. It has been 40 years since he captivated me for seventeen episodes of "The Prisoner", a bizarre and mysterious show about a man who was kidnapped from his home in London and finds himself in a creepy Stepford village where nobody has an identity, and he is known only as Number Six.

According to member mac-a-licious, The Prisoner was a

Kafkaesque drama of a man with acess to his nation's intelligence secrets who, after resigning his post in anger is kidnapped and taken to a mysterious village where he is repeatedly asked to give information, particularly the reason for his resignation.

A show of unusually high technical quality for its time, particularly for British independent television. Created by it's starring actor, Patrick McGoohan, who had previously starred in the series Secret Agent/Danger Man as the morally responsible intelligence officer John Drake, The Prisoner was a close-ended series each episode dealing with a moral or ethical quandary while detailing the protagonists latest attempt to escape or to beat his nemesis du jour. One of the pleasures of the show was its use of gimmicks and inside jokes, some of which could not be appreciated until the introduction of home video more than a decade after the show aired. Among these are that almost no characters were referred to by name but by number (the central charactor was "Number 6"), a takeoff on the hokey theme song for Secret Agent with its refrain "They've given you a number, and taken 'way your name." Others include a regular change of the actors who portrayed the arch nemesis, Number 2, as each number 2 was defeated by number 6. And veiwers were soon to love "Rover", a monstrous security robot that sometimes killed escapees. A remake of the series is underway: as usual with such I simply ask why?

Ugh. Until I read this review I didn't know they were going to do a remake. Even with Jim Caviezel as Number 6, and the quantum leap in techanical wizardry which will make the Village even more surreal and mysterious, there is no way to recreate the campy '60s atmosphere and acting. Neither is there any way to recreate the precise persona Patrick McGoohan brought to the character of Number 6.

Well, I shall miss you. Time to drag out the DVDs and pay tribute to one of the most original television series ever aired.

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