Wednesday, January 25, 2006

'i am not a number! i am a free man!'

6 was his number, we never did find out his name ...

the prisoner was a 17 episode british series that aired on american network t.v. in the summer of 1968. it really changed ideas about what a t.v. series should be. the show was so many things at once ... a spy story, to be sure, but also a wry social commentary which sucks in the viewer with stunning visuals, clever writing and poses questions about individual freedom and thought that seem even more relevent today. it's an orwellian vision done with sixties splash and only seems dated at points now. but taken as a whole it's a dizzying experience.

veteran actor patrick mcgoohan concieved, produced, wrote and starred in this story of a secret agent that angrily resigns his post. he is gassed in his apartment as he is packing for his getaway. he later wakes, looks out the window and sees not london, but a quirky little village. and that is just the opening sequence for the series. what follows in each of the shows is nothing short of amazing. we follow 'number 6' as he constantly tries to escape the island village, which is home to other retired or resigned 'agents' apparently. the powers that be are personified by a rotating 'number 2', whose job seems to consist for the sole purpose of finding out why number 6 resigned. each week a new '2' exclaims they'll extract information 'by hook or by crook'. what appears to be a classic struggle of good vs bad, right vs wrong, gets blurred from jump and nothing is as it seems at all. but, in the end, the show leaves more questions than it answers ...

i remember watching this when it was first on. i was 12, loved anything spy-like and was duly relegated to the lesser black and white 11 inch in the back room to watch the prisoner (mom would rather watch 'big valley' or whatever not-a-spy-show that was on at that time on the giant 27 inch r.c.a. in the den). it totally freaked out me and my friends. we'd yack like hens about it all week at school, trying to figure out what we had seen and where it was going. it was kinda like a playground series. the last few episodes are just a mind-fuck that has me still pondering the meaning of the whole thing, and from that, life in general.

for a few years now s.a. and i have been discussing this show, how it has affected us over the years and there was always a threat of ownership ... then the complete dvd set just magically appeared on the doorstep recently (right around the birthday week) and we haven't stopped watching it yet. well, we saw the last one, 'fall out', last nite but need to watch the whole thing again. the dvd's are all fixed up, pristine, and the episodes look better than they should (but my memories consist of a small b&w tv) ... and with a buncha cool extras ...
i think we need to get back to the village.

and yet a lotta tunes for, about, included therein or which we feel an affiliation with the prisoner, via yousendit, of course, for a small time
... be seeing you!

theme from the prisoner
the times - i helped patrick mcgoohan escape
iron maiden - the prisoner
iron maiden - back to the village
celestial - resigned
the clash - the prisoner
alternative radio - fallout (french version)
carmel morris - another number
the beatles - all you need is love
gangster politics - dance of the dead
bang bang - the prisoner
philip glass - secrect agent
johnny rivers - secret agent man
theme for 'danger man'
theme for 'the prisoner' (from the alternate 'chimes of big ben')


Blogger Laurie said...

Sounds fascinating! I don't think they showed that on television in our town or I would surely have watched it. I might have to check out those DVDs. All that late 60's spy stuff was so cool.

9:29 PM CST  
Blogger Jen T. (that's me) said...

Sounds pretty cool. I never was much into spy stuff - I was more of a "Saved by the Bell" gal myself.

9:25 AM CST  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Oh my God, I loved this show when I was a kid. It just freaked me out when he would try to escape and the big ball would be bouncing across the waves coming after him.

I have a the first four episodes in a smaller DVD set.

I always admired McGoohan for doing this show...instead of the usual jokey spy stuff he really created a great mindbending existential thrill ride.

Another suggestion for this MP3 list..."The Martyr" by Utopia (from Oops, Wrong Planet).

7:59 PM CST  
Blogger nostradumass said...

y'know, i've seen an episode or two, and there's a simpsons episode from a couple years back that totally parodies the prisoner... the other day while hopelessly awaiting a new post from you i noticed the prisoner in your "what we're watching" deal, and i thought, "cool." good to know the series is out on dvd now... i'll have to look it up/check it out.

7:02 PM CST  
Blogger Helskel said...

Awesome! I love that show.

Good to see you're still finding fun, Sleepy.

Good luck and good work to you in NewOrleans.

12:17 PM CST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that show! My dad got me hooked on it when I was a little kid. Would it be possible to reupload these mp3s when you get a chance? I just found this blog today, and the links are expired. You would make two Prisoner fans *very* happy.

10:54 AM CST  
Anonymous mjke said...

I've all ye old epi on my ipod.

the video for 'Alright' by Supergrass was filmed in the village.

10:22 AM CST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great selection, thanks for posting it. Only one more I'd love to see - a tune called See Those Eyes by Altered Images. Their video (from the 80s) was shot in "The Village" with lots of referrences to the show, like a kid playing the role of No. 2's short butler and the human chess board.

3:41 AM CST  
Blogger sleepybomb said...

wow, alot of stuff i did not know... time to go hunting. thanks ya'll!

7:55 PM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance for a re-post of alternative radio - fallout (french version) ?
Thanks a lot,

11:58 AM CST  

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