Customer Review

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best TV Series ever!, 1 April 2005
This review is from: The Prisoner: Volumes 1-5 [DVD] [1967] (DVD)
If by chance you haven't ever heard of let alone seen the Prisoner, you should be told it is a 1960's ITC (Lew Grade) series running to 17 episodes, which follow a man known only as No. 6, who finds himself imprisoned in the mysterious and beautiful Village (Hotel Portmeirion in North Wales). We are never told exactly what No.6 did before - most likely some sort of secret agent, possibly even John Drake (of DangerMan), who was also played by Patrick McGoohan. The Prisoner's first objective is to escape, but his aims and objectives become more ambiguous as the series progresses. The 17 episodes - each a self contained story, except for the 2-part finale - range from more straightforward "will he escape" stories - "Chimes of Big Ben", Checkmate" - to social commentaries on subjects like education "The General"; and elections - "Free for All". It must be said, some episodes stand head and shoulders above others, and McGoohans original idea of a mini-series running to 7 stories was, by the end, becoming stretched in places. But some episodes justify the 5 stars on their own - "Arrival" (never has there been a more dramatic, well crafted pilot to any series- ever!); "Free for All"; Dance of the Dead" (with its beautiful encounter between "Mr Tuxedo" and "Peter Pan" on the Portmeirion sands); and a particular favourite of mine, "ABC". The final two episodes - Once Upon A Time and Fall Out - are complex, difficult to watch in places, but ultimately rewarding. Don't even think of jumping ahead and watching them first.
Criticisms? Sometimes the series shows its age - it was made in the 60's after all. Some of the technology and fashions look dated by todays standards. As time went on, so some of the scripts became a little weak (like "Its Your Funeral"). As storylines got stretched, sometimes the Prisoner even left the Village - "Living in Harmony" is set in the Wild West.
There is not much in the way of extras on the DVD's and the one, US documentary is a little dissapointing. However the overall quality of the production is very good.
Watch it with an open mind. It works on several levels - adventure series; social commentary; and as another commentator put it, "allegorical conundrum". One thing is for sure - nothing else on TV has really ever got close to it's range and depth.
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