Prisoner - The Complete Series

Prisoner - The Complete Series

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Cast: Patrick McGoohan

     
 

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So far as its legions of fans are concerned, The Prisoner was the most fascinating and intellectually challenging sci-fi/fantasy program ever put on the air. Produced in England, the series was the brainchild of actor Patrick McGoohan, who also played the central character. During the opening credits, An unidentified McGoohan was seen angrily resigning hisSee more details below

Overview

So far as its legions of fans are concerned, The Prisoner was the most fascinating and intellectually challenging sci-fi/fantasy program ever put on the air. Produced in England, the series was the brainchild of actor Patrick McGoohan, who also played the central character. During the opening credits, An unidentified McGoohan was seen angrily resigning his unspecified high-level government job, only to be promptly drugged, kidnapped and spirited off to a mysterious, Orwellian community known only as The Village. Though allowed to freely roam the colorful grounds of his new home (which resembled a lavish seaside resort, coupled with a garish amusement pier), the protagonist -- now referred to only as "Number Six" -- could not escape, lest he be chased down and killed by a huge, balloonlike sphere known as a Rover. On each 60-minute episode, Number Six was confronted by "the new Number Two," whose job it was to extract vital information from our hero (though just what sort of information was never explained). Defiantly shouting "I am not a number! I am a free man!," Number Six succeeded in confounding the efforts by Number Two -- and the never-seen Number One -- to break him down. Throughout his bizarre and oftimes hallucinatory adventures, Number Six learned two valuable lessons: To stubbornly maintain his individuality at all times and all costs, and to trust absolutely no one, not even his faithful butler, an enigmatically mute dwarf (Angelo Muscat). Only in the final episode, written and directed by McGoohan himself, did Number Six earn the right to become "an individual" -- thereby discovering the secret behind the Village and the true identity of Number One. Or did he? Devotees of the series still debate the actual outcome of the saga, just as they pick apart and analyze the hidden clues, meanings and metaphors in each preceding episode. On one thing, however, most agree: The character played by Patrick McGoohan was supposed to be John Drake, the world-weary espionage agent whom the actor had previously played on Danger Man (a.k.a. Secret Agent). Such was the mesmerizing power of The Prisoner that even those who couldn't make heads or tails out of the series still remain among its most fervent fans. Debuting October 1, 1967 on British television, the series was first seen in America from June 1 to September 21, 1968, as a summer replacement for CBS' The Jackie Gleason Show (one of the seventeen episodes, "Living In Harmony," was not seen on CBS during this initial run) In response to overwhelming viewer demand, the network -- whose executives admitted that they were thoroughly flummoxed by the series -- reran the show from May 29 through September 11, 1969. Thereafter, The Prisoner became a near-permanent fixture on many PBS stations, its popularity enhanced by several home-video releases of varying quality.Having been kidnapped and drugged after resigning his position, a British intelligence agent (Patrick McGoohan) awakens in the Village (a mysterious, Orwellian community). Now known as Number Six, he is expected to provide information to the enigmatic Number Two (Guy Doleman) if he ever hopes to escape the Village and return home. Things take an even more perplexing turn when Cobb (Paul Eddington), an old friend of Number Six, suddenly shows up...and just as suddenly kills himself. In one of her last appearances, (Virginia Maskell) guest-stars as "the Woman." "The Arrival" was co-written by series producer David Tomblin and George Markstein. This inaugural episode of The Prisoner first aired in England on October 1, 1967, and in America on June 1, 1968.The celebrated "election episode" of The Prisoner, "Free For All" was directed by series star Patrick McGoohan, and also written by him under the pen name of Paddy Fitz. While the Village gears up for the election of the New Number Two, Number Six is encouraged to throw his hat in the ring. Curiously, Number Six is nominated by the incumbent, Number Two (Eric Portman) himself. At first balking at the "honor," Number Six is persuaded to run on the promise that, if elected, he will learn the identity of Number One --- thereby earning his freedom. Rachel Herbert plays the crucial role of maidservant Number Fifty Eight. "Free For All" made its British TV bow on October 22, 1967, and was first telecast in America on June 29, 1968.Number Six awakens one morning to find that his appearance has been radically altered and that he has been reassigned the "identity" of Number Two. Compounding his confusion, he comes face to face with the new Number Six, who looks exactly like his "old" self (Patrick McGoohan plays both roles). It's all part of a scheme by the New Number Two (Anton Rodgers) to break down the protagonist's resistance --- and possibly, his sanity. Jane Merrow costars as Alison, a woman claiming to have a mental link with Number Six (but which one?) Written by Terence Feely, "The Schizoid Man" first aired in England on October 29, 1967, and in America on July 6, 1968.Originally broadcast in England on November 12, 1967, this episode of The Prisoner was written by Anthony Skene and directed by "Joseph Serf" --- actually a pseudonym for series star Patrick McGoohan. Arising from his slumbers early one morning, Number Six discovers that the Village is deserted and all the power has been shut off. At last able to make his escape, Number Six fashions a raft and sets out to sea. Washing up on the shore of what seems to be a familiar English coastal village, he finds that his old lodgings have been taken over by a Mrs. Butterworth (Georgina Cookson), whose behavior does not set his heart at ease. Hoping to return to his former government headquarters to inform his superiors of the Village's existence, the prisoner is plunged into a deep and ever-widening pit of paranoia, with no certainty as to whom he can trust and whom he should fear. Donald Sinden and Patrick Cargill guest star as the Colonel and Thorpe, respectively. "Many Happy Returns" first aired in America on July 20, 1968.Regarded by many as the best-ever episode of The Prisoner, "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling" was written by Vincent Tilsley. Number Six awakens with the belief that he is actually another man -- to be exact, an Army colonel (Nigel Stock). Failing to recognize his own face in his own mirror, the confused protagonist also learns that "The Colonel" has been missing for a full year. The answer to the mystery rests in the hands of one Professor Seltzman (Hugh Schuster), the inventor of an insidious intellect-transfer machine. Clues essential to the action include a reference to Number Six's former fiancée, and an inventory of the former intelligence agent's code names. Also appearing are Zena Walker as Janet and Clifford Evans as the new Number Two. As originally conceived, "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling" was supposed to have been the series' ninth episode, but instead was rescheduled as episode 13 on British television, making its first appearance on January 7, 1968. When The Prisoner was rebroadcast in America on CBS, the intended episode chronology was restored, and "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling" was properly shown right after episode number eight ("Dance of the Dead") on August 3, 1968.Number Six learns of an impending assassination, "Plan Division Q," in which the target is the Retiring Number Two (Andre Van Gyseghem). Actually, these plans were deliberately divulged by the New Number Two (Derren Nesbitt), who hopes thereby to discredit Number Six. With no one willing to believe that an assassination is about to take place, Number Six finds that his fate may rest in the hands of a watchmaker (Martin Miller) and his daughter (Annette Andre). Written by Michael Cramoy, "It's Your Funeral" was supposed to have been the 10th episode of The Prisoner, but instead was telecast in England as episode number 11 on December 17, 1967. Its original chronology was restored when it debuted in America on August 10, 1968.Originally written as the second episode of The Prisoner, "Checkmate" was then slated to be shown as episode #11. Instead, it was telecast out of chronological order as the 10th episode on December 3, 1967. One of the series' most fondly remembered installments ---and the one that posted the highest ratings when first broadcast in England --- this exercise in surrealism takes place on a giant chess board, wherein all the "pieces" are people. One of the participants is Number Six, who cannot determine if the other players are making moves of their own free will, or if they are being manipulated by a unseen force. Crucial players in this bizarre game are an icy psychiatrist (Patricia Jessel) and the (apparently) independently minded Queen (Rosalie Crutchley). As originally written by Gerald Kelsey), the script for "Checkmate" came up seven minutes short, compelling series star Patrick McGoohan to hastily compose an extra scene. The episode was restored to its proper Prisoner chronology when it was first shown in America on August 17, 1968.Written by David Tomblin and Ian L. Rakoff, "Living In Harmony" briefly whisks Number Six away from The Village and plunks him into the American West circa 1870. Forced by a "Roy Bean"-style judge (David Bauer) to accept the job of sheriff, Number Six discovers that his first assignment is to protect to beautiful Cathy (Valerie French) from a vicious outlaw known as The Kid (Alexis Kanner). This places the protagonist in an uncomfortable position: How can he fulfill his new responsibility while keeping his self-promise to never again use a gun? Harmony, by the way, is the name of the town where all this takes place --- or does it? Originally slated as Episode 12 of The Prisoner, "Living In Harmony" was seen as the series' 14th installment when it originally aired in England on January 14, 1968. Curiously, this episode was not shown in America where The Prisoner was first networkcast in the summer of 1968 (reportedly, it contained too much violence --- or, possibly, too much of the leading lady's cleavage), though it was included in the Prisoner package syndicated in the US in the fall of 1969.First broadcast in England on December 31, 1967, "A Change of Mind" was directed by Prisoner star Patrick McGoohan, under the pseudonym of "Joseph Serf" (the same name he'd used when directing the earlier episode "Many Happy Returns.") Still refusing to reveal his reasons for resigning from British Intelligence save for the vague explanation "I needed time to think," Number Six is declared "unmutual" by the powers that be in The Village. As such, he is subjected to the double assault of mind-bending drugs and ear-piercing sound waves. Though this treatment is meant to make Number Six more compliant, the tables are turned upon his tormentor Number Two (John Sharpe), with the unwitting assistance of Number Eighty Six (Angela Browne). Written by Roger Parkes and intended to be shown as the series' 13th episode, "A Change of Mind" was rescheduled as the 12th intallment--but not in America, where it aired in its proper chronological order on August 24, 1968.Written by Roger Woddis, this episode of The Prisoner guest stars Patrick Cargill (also seen in the previous episode "Free for All") as super sadistic New Number Two. Delighting in tormenting the villagers, Number Two drives at least one of them, Number 73 (Hilary Dwyer), to suicide. Hoping to avenge the woman's death, Number Six begins his own campaign of psychological warfare, utilizing such "weapons" as his collection of Bizet recordings! In addition to resembling an installment of the much later CBS series, Survivor, this episode also predates American Gladiators by offering an "extreme sport" known as Kosho. Originally slated as the 14th episode of The Prisoner, "Hammer into the Anvil" was seen as episode number 10 when it first aired in England on December 10, 1967. It was placed in its original chronology for American television, where it was first seen on August 31, 1968.First broadcast in England on January 21, 1968, "The Girl Who Was Death" was written by Terence Feely, from an idea by David Tomblin, producer of The Prisoner and director of this episode. Again mysteriously transported from The Village, Number Six finds himself in an isolated lighthouse with a girl named Sonia (Justine Lord) who by some fluke of fate has apparently caused the deaths of at least three men. Referring to herself as "Death," Sonia insists that she and Number Six are made for each other, inasmuch as he has survived so many previous attempts on his life. As the story progresses, it becomes painfully obvious that the so-called lighthouse is actually a nuclear missile, designed by Sonia's demented father (Kenneth Griffith) to destroy London. Originally intended as a two-part episode, "The Girl Who Was Death" was diminished to a single installment because of star Patrick McGoohan's commitment to the theatrical feature Ice Station Zebra; in fact, McGoohan is absent from much of the proceedings, requiring the producers to use doubles and stock shots for certain linking scenes. The episode made its American TV debut on September 7, 1968.Written and directed by series star Patrick McGoohan, "Once Upon a Time" was the first of two episodes of The Prisoner designed to "explain" (more or less) several of the questions posed by the previous episodes, and to bring the saga to a conclusion --- albeit not a logical one. Leo McKern costars as the Previous Number Two, who had supposedly been dispensed with in the earlier episode "Chimes of Big Ben." Returning to the village for one last desperate attempt to "break" Number Six, Number Two utilizes a sinister mind-probing process called Degree Absolute (which was also this episode's original title). Forced to relive all the events of his life, Number Six is plunged into a bizarre netherworld where reality is not even a concept. This time around, the stakes are extremely high, with the lives of both Number Two and Number Six hanging in the balance. When The Prisoner was originally planned as a two-season series, "Once Upon a Time" was supposed to have been the 13th and final episode of Season One. But upon rethinking the series in terms of a single 17-episode season, the script was refashioned as the next-to-last episode; as such, it first aired in England on January 28, 1968, and in America on September 14, 1968.Perhaps one of the most fascinating and maddening 48 minutes ever committed to television broadcast, "Fall Out" was the 17th and final episode of the British sci-fi/fantasy series The Prisoner. Having survived the ordeal of Degree Absolute in the previous episode "Once Upon a Time," Number Six is rewarded with the right to become an individual once more. With the begrudging blessing of the defeated Number Two (Leo McKern), Number Six is given back his original clothes, the key to his old house, a million pounds' worth of travellers cheques, and an international passport. But this is not enough for Number Six: He insists upon learning the identity of the enigmatic Number One, who was responsible for his ordeal in The Village. From this point on, the episode's already pervasive surrealism reaches a fever pitch, festooned with cryptic messages, verbal and visual puns, "reunions" with past antagonists, Beatles tunes in the background, and various "types" wandering around in white masks. One of these masked figures is the elusive Number One. . .and that's all that can be said without giving the game away (if indeed, the game could ever be given away). Written and directed by series star Patrick McGoohan, "Fall Out" was originally telecast in England on February 4, 1968, and in America on September 21, 1968.In this episode of the allegorical television series The Prisoner, No. 6 (Patrick McGoohan) discovers a new sort of danger has come to the Village, while a carnival attempts to distract the villagers from their gloom. No. 6 recognizes a new resident, and learns that he is being tortured by No. 2 (Marn Morris) in order to learn the truth about No. 6 and his past. As both No. 6 and the newcomer are subjected to interrogation to find out what they know, a body washes up on the beach, which No. 6 discovers has a radio in his pocket. Will he be able to get the radio to work and find out what's happanmed in the outside world? And can he somehow send a signal to the people outside the Village about his plight?In this episode of the cult-favorite TV series The Prisoner, Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan) appears to be developing an artistic side when he begins work on a series of sculptures for an art exhibit. What his captors do not realize is that they can be assembled into a boat, and Number 6 uses them to sail away from the Village. In time, Number Six reaches England, where he returns to the offices of the espionage organization from which he attempted to resign, only to discover he's fallen into a trap. Leo McKern plays Village leader Number Two in this episode, while Finlay Currie and Nadia Gray highlight the supporting cast.In this episode of the British television series The Prisoner, medical researchers at the Village have discovered a way to tap into the human mind and observe a person's dreams and sub-conscious thoughts. Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) becomes a test subject, and as he is unconscious, his imaginings are adjusted until he believes he's in Paris on a rendezvous to sell the secrets he learned as an espionage agent. Number Two, the leader of the mysterious Village, is played in this episode by Colin Gordon; Katherine Kath and Sheila Allen also appear.The fine line between knowledge and insight becomes a battleground in this episode of the classic British television series The Prisoner. Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) becomes aware of a strange new innovation created by scientists in the Village -- a type of brain implant that allows the subject to readily absorb information, but eliminates their ability to process their own thoughts. The role of Number Two is played in this episode by Colin Gordon, with Betty McDowell and John Castle heading up the supporting players.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Tony Nigro
The Prisoner's star and creator Patrick McGoohan heatedly denies allegations that the show is a "sequel" to his other landmark secret-agent series, Danger Man (a.k.a. Secret Agent), and indeed, The Prisoner stands alone as a testament to paranoia, with conspiracy theories that put even The X-Files to shame. Number 6 knows not who runs the Orwellian Village where he's trapped nor why "they" won't let him live his life freely. And Number 6's lack of a name, in hand with the show's "Everyman, Ltd." production company, points to The Prisoner being an allegory for humanity: Are we imprisoned by modern society? No matter what your answer, The Prisoner masks its heady thoughts well in cleverly written and rarely formulaic mini-dramas that have captured imaginations worldwide -- not to mention an ultra-loyal fan base. This 10-DVD collection culls all 17 original episodes in the series, including the eternally puzzling series finale, "Fall Out," which after initial broadcast garnered confused, even angry responses from fans. They watched hoping to find out who Number 1 was and if Number 6 would finally escape the Village, but the episode is so abstract that it leaves most viewers wondering, What on Earth is going on? Different people have different interpretations -- to give any here might reveal the ending -- so the best one can do is weigh the entire series for oneself, enjoying The Prisoner's wit, intelligence, and psychedelic weirdness, not to mention its undeniable place as one of the most unique spy series of all time.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/27/2009
UPC:
0733961168808
Rating:
NR
Source:
A&E Home Video
Time:
14:00:00

Special Features

Don't Knock Yourself Out - Feature-Length Documentary Chronciling the Production of The Prisoner, Told by Those Involved in it's Creation; ; Two Brand-New Featurettes- The Pink Prisoner and You Make Sure It Fits!; ; Promo for AMC's The Prisoner Miniseries; ; Newly Restored original edit of "Arrival" with an optional music-only soundtrack featuring Wildred Joseph's complete and abandoned score; ; Original Edit of "The Chimes of Big Ben" Episode; ; Production Crew Audio Commentaries on Seven Episodes; ; Trailers for all Episodes; Active Textless Material, Including the Title Sequence with Clean Themes by Ron Grainer, Wildred Josephs, and Robert Farnon; ; Commercial Break Bumpers; ; Image Archive with Over 1200 Stills; Production Paperwork Archive, Featuring Scripts, Call Sheets, and Press Releases (DVD-ROM Feature)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Patrick McGoohan The Prisoner, Number Six

Technical Credits

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