The Prisoner (UK)

Season 1 Episode 16

Once Upon A Time

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Jan 28, 1968 on ITV

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
49 votes
  • The battle of wits between Number 2 and Number 6 comes to a head.

    This episode is one of the most riveting of the 17. Leo McKern and Patrick McGoohan are first rate in this battle of wills between Number 2 and Number 6. The ending might be a little bit surprising to viewers but it leads up to the series finale, Fall Out. I will admit Leo has quite the singing voice with his rendition of Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill!
  • The definition of artsy fartsy.

    The setup for this episode is okay: Number 2 decides to lock himself up with Number 6 for a week and see if he can get him to tell why he resigned.

    The next 45 minutes are almost intolerable, however. It seems like Leo McKern and Patrick McGoohan are improvising their dialog, which usually consists of Number 2 saying a word and then Number 6 saying a word. "Time." "Good." "Fleet." "Dead!" "Dead?" "Doornail." etc... For the most part the episode is incoherent with the occasional brilliant light, which quickly becomes lost in more incoherency. The verbal duel seems to be between the individual and the "needs" of society, with honor being lost when the individual is asked to conform to society (see the USSR).

    Despite a worthy topic, I just couldn’t take the presentation, which is why I give this the lowest rating for the entire 17 show series. The early shows in The Prisoner are snappy and riveting, but the later episodes show some weakness - probably because McGoohan went away to film Ice Station Zebra in the middle of production, and frankly they needed him there to continue working on scripts. I doubt they had a script ready when it came time to film this one.