Friday, September 4, 2009

The Prisoner

The Prisoner is a 17-episode British television series broadcast in the UK from 29 September 1967 to 1 February 1968. Starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan, it combined spy fiction with elements of science fiction, allegory, and psychological drama.

The series follows an unnamed British agent who abruptly resigns his job, and then finds himself held captive in a mysterious seaside "village" that is isolated from the mainland by mountains and sea. The Village is further secured by numerous monitoring systems and security forces, including a mysterious device called Rover that captures those that attempt escape. The agent encounters the Village's population, hundreds of people from all walks of life and cultures, all seeming to be tranquilly living out their lives; as they do not use names, they have each been assigned a number, related to their importance in the Village's power structure.

The agent is told by the Village authority he is "Number Six", and they are seeking "information" as to why he resigned; the task of doing this is carried by the ever-changing "Number Two", acting as the Village' chief administrator and proxy to the unseen "Number One". Number Six, distrusting of anyone involved with the Village, refuses to give such answers while at the same time trying to learn for which side the Village works under, remaining defiant to authority while concocting his own plans to escape or learn more about the Village. Some of his schemes, while not resulting in an escape, do lead to the dismissal of a reigning Number Two on two occasions. At the end of the series, the administration becomes desperate for Number Six' information, and follow more drastic measures that threaten the lives of Number Six, Number Two, and the rest of the Village.

The series features striking and often surreal storylines, and themes include hypnosis, hallucinogenic drug experiences, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination. A major theme is individualism versus collectivism.

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