Let's Watch (And Discuss) The Prisoner

#1

I had this idea while unpacking my DVDs and I came across the box set. Has any show engendered more discussion or debate, especially among a group of nerds like us? (It goes without saying I’m talking about the original, not that abortion from 10 years ago).

I thought it might be enjoyable to watch an episode/week and discuss (spoilers will be included, of course). . Only two questions need to be decided on first:

Do we watch the whole series or the “Essential Seven”? McGoohan had originally envisioned The Prisoner as a 7-part mini series, but it was only expanded to 17 at the insistence of the network (which was also considering 26 or even 30). He always considered the other 10 “filler”, not that some of them aren’t worthwhile. For the record, the Essential Seven are:

Arrival
Free For All
Dance of the Dead
Checkmate
The Chimes of Big Ben
Once Upon A Time
Fall Out

The other question is whether to watch in the order aired (in the US) or in the intended order, which makes more sense chronologically. There are a lot of different lists but this is the most widely accepted:

“Arrival”
“Dance of the Dead”
“The Chimes of Big Ben”
“Free for All”
“Checkmate”
“The Schizoid Man”
“The General”
“A. B. &; C.”
“A Change of Mind”
“Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling”
“It’s Your Funeral”
“The Girl Who Was Death”
“Many Happy Returns”
“Living in Harmony”
“Hammer into Anvil”
“Once Upon a Time”
“Fall Out”

I’ll go with what the rest decide. After all, I’m not unmutual. Most importantly, let’s watch and discuss. Unfortunately, unless you own the show on VHS or DVD, Amazon Prime and iTunes are the only (legal) options.

Be seeing you.

#2

I do like the idea, I just feel like I’m dedicated to the whole Star Trek thing at the moment. And if you’re wondering why I can’t do both well, probably a fair question. Guess we’ll see.

#3

If it were feasible for the wife and me to block off show-watching time together, we’d be so down. I may try to push for it to happen despite the logistical difficulties.

#4

One of my favorite series! I will try to re-watch on the proposed schedule.

#5

I would definitely watch the whole thing.

#6

Never heard of it.

I had to look it up. I have to admit, it sounds interesting.

#7

I’m game for giving this a shot, seeing as it’s on Amazon Prime. I’ve been exposed to plenty of references to it, so it will be nice to fill in that cultural blind spot.

As to which episodes, I’m curious about the “Essential Seven” so that gets my vote.

#8

image

#9

You’re in for a treat.

#10

So are we agreed on watching the entire series and in the proposed running order? My suggestion is one episode a week, to give everyone time. If that works for everyone else we can start discussion of "Arrival"one week from today (3/19).

And there WILL be spoilers.

#11

You are in for a real treat.

#12

For anyone who might want to play along but doesn’t have access to the other sources, I just discovered that the series (in it’s entirety, I hope) is on Youtube.

#13

[gasp]

Agreed, though it’s been decades since I’ve seen any of the episodes, so my memories are sparse.
I was probably in my late 20’s and my little brother was in his late teens when we stumbled across a few episodes on TV. I don’t think our family even had cable at the time (I could be wrong), so I’m guessing it must have been on PBS. In any case, our minds were blown.

#14

Yeah I was introduced to it by a friend in my late teens / early 20s and whooooooooaaaaa.

And that was with the sober crowd!

#15

Holy shit, that’s actually really nice quality compared to some shows I’ve attempted to watch on Youtube.

#16

Okay, I just finished watching “Arrival” on Amazon Prime, and I remember that this is an episode I have seen before, and as before, it left me with a ton of questions and a sense of wonder.

I love the setting. Just absolutely gorgeous.
And while I know this show is pretty old, I respect that it still managed to create a great deal of tension and unease within me as I watched.

I’d love to see a “making of” documentary of some sort.

I wish my little brother was here watching it with me again. That would be a real kick. But he lives a couple thousand miles away, and I haven’t seen him in years. I know he remembers it though, because we’ve talked about it a few times during phone conversations reminiscing fondly about the old days.

#17

Here’s one that looks pretty good. I’m hesitant to watch it now however, as I’m uncertain how many spoilers it might contain. I may watch it after viewing the series instead. It’s an hour and 34 minutes long. I watched a few minutes of it, and it’s already showing images from later episodes, so fair warning. Video and audio quality is very good.

And here’s a 36 minute interview with Patrick McGoohan specifically about “The Prisoner”. The video quality is poor but watchable, but the audio is good. And there are spoilers.

And from Patrick McGoohan’s Wikipedia entry, here’s a bit I did not know:

#18

One thing I’ve reconsidered considering that some joining in are first time viewers is the issue of spoilers, especially the identity of No.1 or the location of The Village. Judicious use of spoiler tags is recommended.

#19

Nice find. I just watched about half of it and it’s excellent.

#20

Watched “Arrival” again for the first time in ages and was just as engaged as every other single time I’ve watched it. I’d like to give a special shout out to the editing, which stood out to me this time and is so frantic and interesting, compared to things that I grew up on (and still enjoy), like The A-Team, or Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I was first introduced to this series when it played on the SciFi Channel (pre “Ys” and Tom Chick blog) in the 90s. They had a marathon hosted by Harlan Ellison, whom would introduce each episode and give some behind the scenes stories of its creation. I wish I could find those. They would run the series on regular intervals and include snippets of those, but the marathon had full intros (some of which I missed).