The Prisoner (UK)

Season 1 Episode 14

Living in Harmony

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Jan 14, 1968 on ITV

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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  • This special show wins hands-down on being clever, witty and in synch with parodying the TV reality of westerns. It's also a terrific showcase for McGoohan's talent; it's a masterful overview of the series' haunting, underlying messages.

    McGoohan claims to have a penchant for the television western. In Living in Harmony, his dream comes true -- figuratively and literally. We find ourselves with The Prisoner immersed inside a Village-induced dream -- in fact, a western drama, where our hero plays the pacifist sheriff. He's not Andy Taylor, with hidden smarts and country charm; he's a sly, cunning, introspective sheriff who plays it as cool as a steely-eyed Clint Eastwood likely would portray a sheriff. He plays the part cinematically! The show is directed with great confidence and builds to a crescendo, mocking the tone and structure of "High Noon." Remember, when this show aired, "Gunsmoke" was blazing in the ratings. The great irony, of course, is in the episode title itself, Living in Harmony: the place is called Harmony, a placid, flat name like the Village, where The Prisoner reluctantly resides. Inside Harmony is unrest and gun fighting -- just like the inner battle going on inside of The Prisoner's head while he is forced to live in the Village. It's not until he takes up the gun -- becomes rebellious to the notion of pacifism (being removed from the social order -- and fights fire with fire -- that he is able to put down the notorious killer, The Kidd (Alex Kanner portrays this part with frightening sincerity; he later appears in the final two episodes as a hippy, beatnik). So when it comes down to bringing an inner peace to Harmony, like finding the solace inside a former secret agent's soul, The Prisoner comes to grips with one of the series' most haunting messages: we are all prisoners of our past, and by design, prisoners of society. And gun or no gun, you just can't shake who you are. You play the role and the part -- the sheriff, for instance, and you still aren't in control (because you don't REALLY want to tote a gun or use it). Who is in charge? Or as each episode of "The Prisoner" opened with the ambiguous dialogue exchange between Number 2 and Number 6, McGoohan asks: "Who is Number 1?" And the answer from Number Two: "You are Number 6." Read that now with pregnant meaning and punctuation: "You are, Number 6." Indeed, we are all masters/sheriffs of our own social prison! Lock 'em up!