The Prisoner (UK)

ITV (ended 1968)





The Prisoner (UK) Fan Reviews (26)

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  • The Island is the original Hotel California - you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

    Unique: No other show in the history of television has taken as many chances and dared to be as different as The Prisoner. From the setting, to the art direction, wardrobe and ambience of the show, nothing was normal, nothing was common, absolutely nothing turned up on The Island that we would have expected to see in real life. Cutting edge: From camera angles to way ahead-of-its-time technology, television audiences were exposed to the future in 1967! With this show as a blueprint, why didn't we see more like it - more inventive direction and writing - in the years that followed? Viewers just weren't ready for it.

    Compelling: Who could resist tuning in next week to find out if poor #6 would ever find any answers, or would ever find a way off the Island? Lost, shmost, I don't see any great big white scary bouncy ball coming after the castaways - that thing freaked me out as a child! Who needs CGI when filmmakers can make a white round thing actually lurk and look threatening?

    Patrick McGoohan is an individual - and The Prisoner will stand for a long time.
  • Off the wall but great!

    Since I am already a Patrick McGoohan fan, I knew The Prisoner would be great. Leaving his British spy role in Danger Man, McGoohan helped develop and starred in the title role of the Prisoner. He is a former spy who has been kidnapped and held prisoner on an undisclosed island. The purpose for kidnapping him is to retrieve vital information he has. We never discover his real name. He is simply called "Number 6."

    The entire series only lasts for 17 episodes, but it is intriguing from start to finish. The basic story-line of the series is Number 6 trying to escape the island and return to freedom. And yes, the final episode does answer some of the questions that viewers have throughout the series. I'm always amazed at how each episode ends, usually with Number 6 outwitting his captors but not escaping the island. If you like avant-garde shows, this is one you won't want to miss.
  • A die for show

    One of the best tv shows ever ! I watched this show as a little child, I was affraid but the episodes where so good so I couldn't stop watching. I rediscovered the show ten years after on video tapes, and the feeling was the same, time altered nothing. This show was a real philosophical one, also a political one : how to be free in modern society ? What really means to get and keep the power ? Is liberty of thinking still possible ? Could we possibly trust someone or something. No more to say, watch it please.
  • Kafkaesque drama of a man with acess to his nation's intelligence secrets who, after resigning his post in anger is kidnapped and taken to a mysterious village where he is repeatedly asked to give information, particularly the reason for his resignation.

    A show of unusually high technical quality for its time, particularly for British independent television. Created by it's starring actor, Patrick McGoohan, who had previously starred in the series Secret Agent/Danger Man as the morally responsible intelligence officer John Drake, The Prisoner was a close-ended series each episode dealing with a moral or ethical quandary while detailing the protagonists latest attempt to escape or to beat his nemesis du jour. One of the pleasures of the show was its use of gimmicks and inside jokes, some of which could not be appreciated until the introduction of home video more than a decade after the show aired. Among these are that almost no characters were referred to by name but by number (the central charactor was "Number 6"), a takeoff on the hokey theme song for Secret Agent with its refrain "They've given you a number, and taken 'way your name." Others include a regular change of the actors who portrayed the arch nemesis, Number 2, as each number 2 was defeated by number 6. And veiwers were soon to love "Rover", a monstrous security robot that sometimes killed escapees. A remake of the series is underway: as usual with such I simply ask why?
  • Very old, but classy.

    This has become by far my favorite series of all time, so much so I have given up watching television altogether and turned to DVD's instead. That's not to say it's the best show ever, but it's one of those things you can watch as fluff action-adventure entertainment one day, or chew down to its bones, if you like, the next. That is, it doesn't require intelligence and concentration or an easy day at the office to enjoy, but if you've read a few books or have philosophical leanings you can amuse yourself by wringing quite a bit out of it.

    On that note, it's especially fun to watch this series in conjunction with Danger Man/ Secret Agent. Although it isn't uncommon to have the same actors work together on different series, there is a town full of spies in DM/SA

    referred to as the Village in the episode "Colony Three" which is the center of a debate on whether Number 6 and John Drake are the same. (McGoohan categorically denies this, but Markstein says it's true. Perhaps there is a legal hurdle involved? We will probably never get that information.)

    I recommend watching them in order, so you can see Number 6 gradually abandon his open desperation and anger ("Arrival" to "The Chimes of Big Ben") for a cool and calculated needling of the system from within ("A, B and C" to "Hammer Into Anvil"). They try drugs, brainwashing, torture, virtual reality, letting him escape, and even babysitting to get him to talk. Each episode will appeal to someone different, some funny, some aggravating, but they all fit together by "Fall Out"; I have never met anyone who was not surprised at the final episode. It's truly extraordinary!

    You will find references to the Prisoner are made constantly in other shows and movies, especially Sci Fi. The character Bester uses the Village greeting on Babylon 5; I have seen Village interrogation methods on the Pretender, John Doe and Farscape (whose leading man has an acting style similar to McGoohan's and a character similar to Number 6, IMHO, especially if you watch "A, B and C"); Number 2's trademark sphere chair is used on everything from Austin Powers to ads for American Idol.

    The Village itself has appeared in tribute episodes of the Invisible Man and, of all things, the Simpsons ("The Computer Wore Menace Shoes"). Rover has actually appeared on the Simpsons twice!

    I believe it's a classic that shouldn't be missed for anyone who ever feels trapped by rules that make little sense. If you like quoting Brazil and Office Space you'll find plenty of quotes to add to your collection here. My friends and I have even started referring to each other by number at work!
  • The greatest television show of all time!

    Simply put, this was the most brilliant television ever produced. Patrick McGoohan (you may remember him as the villain in the movie Silver Streak) took his earnings from Secret Agent and then wrote, directed, produced and starred in this amazing series. It was mind-bendingly good, and the final episode is the most surreal television I\'ve ever seen. Certainly without McGoohan having broken this ground, David Lynch and other creative television innovators would have not been able to do what they did. McGoohan freed television from triviality and gave it artistic significance. This will always be my favorite show.
  • Most important TV drama in 50 years.

    I loved The Prisoner staring Patrick McGoohan. It was groundbreaking at the time (including the fact it was in colour and a TV series made on film rather than tape). Some of the episodes were better than others. My favourites include:

    Hammer Into Anvil
    Schizoid Man
    Living In Harmony

    People are mixed on the final episode of The Prisoner, the first time I saw it I was not so impressed and angry at the lack of answers it provided. The more I have seen it over the years I have round to enjoying it. Give it a second chance if you have only seen it once.

    I am now very excited that Sky One will be remaking The Prisoner in 2007.
  • Absolute insanity...

    "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"

    The title sequence lasts about 5 minutes, none of it makes much if any sense, and it doesn't really matter which order you watch the series in. But somehow it works. The music's great, Patrick McGoohan scowls, quips and scowls some more through the seventeen episodes, and the Village is a fantastic creation. There are very good episodes - Arrival, Hammer into Anvil, The Girl who was Death, and there are some terrible episodes - Living in Harmony, Once Upon a Time, A,B & C. But the series still remains one of the most enjoyable, puzzling, irritating, and iconic to date.
  • I am not a number ! I am a free man !

    A man dashes into the office of the secret service and after a lot of angry words and gestures, resigns anf goes home. However, soon he is gassed, kidnapped and taken from his home to a strange new place. When he wakes up, a voice addressed him and a dialog ensues:

    Where am I ?
    In the Village !
    Who are you ?
    I am Number Two !
    Who is Number One ?
    You are Number Six !

    At this point, driven to rage, the man shouts," I am not a number ! I am a free man !

    Thus begins the adventures of the man only known to us a Number Six. He meets other people trapped in the village. he tries to escape but is stopped and brought back by an enormous ballon. He tires to infiltrate the inner circle which controls the village and in ultimately able to unmask Number One. This series was full of symbolism and tried to depict how each one of us is a prisoner of one's opinions, values, biases, etc. It would have done even better today, having seen the positive response to a similar TV theme in LOST.
  • "The Prisoner" still has more style and depth than just about every TV show since then! A product of the psychedelic Sixties, it remains challenging and engaging--a very rare combination.

    When I first ran into the Prisoner series, I quickly became a fan. Great concept, suspense, action, adventure and topped off with the examination of one's identity and how important it is. This series was magnificently crafted all the way until the last episode or two, when McGoohan either decided to drop acid and cop out on the ending OR didn't HAVE an ending so he decided to go insane and figured the more sychophantic viewers out there would compensate by making their own ending and fill in the gaps of what became a silly, nonsensical, disorganized mish-mash of a finale. A shame they ended it as they did because it was a top notch sci-fi thriller until the penultimate episode.
  • A Britsh allegorical drama about a secret agent kidnapped to a island prison and his refusal to submit to authority while seeking an escape is one of the best television dramas of the sixties. A program relevent to our times -- or any time for that matter

    The Prisoner has many levels of meaning concerning the human condition, but chief among its themes is the struggle of the individual for dignity and freedom against the overwhelming oppressive power of the corporate state. Why Number Six refuses to tell his kidnappers his reason for resigning MI-6 never is made clear -- as far as I remember -- but I suspect it had to do with ethical objections to official policy, a recurring theme of the sixties. What is important is not the reason for his resignation, however, but how he is mistreated by those he trusted and served. Kidnapped against his will, ensconced in a village prison with annoying rules, interogated by an oppressive paranoid authority, Number Six must fight for the values he thought he was fighting for in the first place. A truly great suspense drama that makes you think. Apropos to current events.
  • Classic sci-fi show. It is about to be remade I really hope they do a good job with it.

    Classic sci-fi show. It is about to be remade I really hope they do a good job with it. Patrick McGoohan stared and produced the show. He played a retired secret agent that was taken to a secret island to be interigated. On the island they only referred to people by numbers. Patrick was
    Number Six. I'm not sure if there was ever a reason given for the number. I know that the bad guys That were number one and number two were the big shots more or less. There was a "Lost" style security system that would chase people down in the water if they tried to escape. It was a very interesting show.
  • When this series aired on CBS in the 1960's it was an amazing groundbreaker. The first surrealistic TV show, with spellbinding intrigue and drama.

    Each and every episode was eagerly anticipated... next to Star Trek, this was my favorite show back in the 1960's. Has anything on TV come close since then? Maybe the X-Files did in the 1990's.

    Patrick McGoohan was the epitome of a secret agent, or what I imagined one to be. The big white ball was mystifying. When I was in Wales in 1990 I spent a weekend at the hotel in Portmeirion... Yes, it was still the same village, even more amazing in real life!

    The Prisoner was way too far ahead of it's time... Was this program a forerunner to The Matrix? Perhaps...
  • British TV at its best.

    "The Prisoner" is simply brilliant largely due to its excellent star, creator and producer: Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan is a true visionary. The amount of thought he put into the series is just breathtaking. He must be an incredibly intelligent man to come up with this magnificent and unique series.

    All 17 episodes are brilliant, full of unexpected and often mind-boggling twists particularly the finale "Fall Out". The dialogue, especially McGoohan's, is usually extremely sharp and very witty. His dry sense of humour is extremely funny in my opinion.

    I also love all the different elements that make the show so mysterious: Number Six's true name nor his reason for resigning are never revealed, who is running and operating the Village, who in the outside world knows about, why there is a different Number Two in almost every episode (although it is implied that most were replaced for failing to break Number Six) and most of all, the true identity of Number One.

    All in all, this is British TV at it best. Sky One is re-making the series this year. No matter what, it can never be as good as this. While it was also ahead of its time, it was also a product of its time (the Cold War). The fear of nuclear war is far less now in the 21st Century. As a result, paranoia is not as high as it once was. This means the new series will not make as big an impact. But it still probably be great! Hope McGoohan's in it at least once. He'd make a great Number Two.
  • A truly ground-breaking show.

    This was without doubt one of the best shows to come out of England in the 60's or for anytime for that matter. Innovative, ground breaking, excellent writing.

    Although it was prematurely brought to an end by internal wranglings (Patrick McGoohan being one of the most vocal!!!)it still stands tall amongst any of today's high CG effect shows.

    This was British creative genius at its best.
  • Some themes and shows are timeless. This is a show that can be appreciated today as much as when I first saw it, in its day and age. The themes and good story telling make it timeless.

    The special effects are poor but the plot is so intriguing. The show has good story telling. I enjoy a show that does not rely on words only to tell the story. One gets to see a variety of good acting from the use of voice, use of silence, use of body language and facials to express the story.

    The theme is great, yet an old one even in its day. It address the old issue of freedom. Are we ever really free? What is one person's hell can be another's heaven. The more you watch it the more layers you see. I do recommend buying it on DVD and exploring its layers.
  • The Prisoner

    "Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself," was the kind of edict passed around the Village in The Prisoner. Questions were obviously a bit of a burden for the scriptwriters too - they left most of them unanswered. Those who think cheese-rolling and The Wicker Man are as weird as village life gets, clearly haven't seen The Prisoner, devised by its star Patrick McGoohan (fresh from Dangerman) and still on the world's screens thirtysomething years later.

    The plot goes something like this: man packs in his job as a spy, goes home, gets gassed and wakes up in a perfect Italianate village where everyone is known by a number (Six in McGoohan's case), and from which there is no escape (thanks to a huge weather balloon called Rover). But who are the unseen yet all-seeing dictators who run the place and want 'information' from him? Suspicious Number Six will not be 'pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered', not even if his captors try brainwashing and hallucinogenic drugs. He spends the next sixteen episodes trying to fathom what the hell is going on - as do we.

    The Prisoner relies heavily on symbolism. Rover is said to symbolise the repression of a corrupt, faceless authority, the Village's symbol of a penny-farthing to stand for lack of progress, and the Village itself represents the triumph of an Orwellian Big Brother-style government. Called the most challenging TV series ever shown 'The Prisoner was a journey to save an individual from moral decline into the anonymity of the melting community. It was the battle of the 1960s,' says assistant editor Ian Rakoff('I am not a number, I am a free man!' thundered McGoohan defiantly). This may be true, but they could also have been having a laugh. Either way, it made for great telly.
  • The first time that television achived Art, "The Prisoner" abandoned the typical unending series format. In a span of just 17 episodes it brought the Kafkaesque philosophical, existential story of one individual versus institutional groupthink to brillian

    The first time that television achived Art, "The Prisoner" abandoned the typical unending series format. In a span of just 17 episodes it brought the Kafkaesque philosophical, existential story of one individual versus institutional groupthink to brilliant life. In some ways it is a product of its time - the 1960s - but the story is timeless. Perhaps it is even more relevant now, considering the fact that in the current television climate this show could never be made.

    The show didn't try to explain everything for the audience. It sometimes worked in metaphors and symbols, demanding the viewer to become intellectually involved. One can debate the origins of the series (What was Patrick McGoohan's actual contribution to the show's creation? Was it a sequel to Danger Man? Who came up with what and when?), but producton trivia, in the end, is as irrelevant as what sort of brush Da Vinci may have used to paint the Mona Lisa. The series, as a work of art, exists. If you have not seen it, then you have missed the best that television has to offer.
  • It has stayed with me all these years.

    I first stumbled across The Prisoner in the summer of 1968. I'd never run into anything quite like it before. This was a show that asked a lot of questions, provided very few answers, and looked damn good all the while. I remember telling some friends to watch, but to them it was just "that weird show with the giant ballon." People like to say that The Prisoner was ahead of its time. Maybe, although you could just as easily say it was perfectly of its time as well. I envy anyone watching this show for the first time.
  • Truly thought provoking and insightful ...

    This show simply refuses to lie down and go away. It's Orwellian view of a world watched by cameras and a population subjugated by petty belief systems predicts our life today. And therein lies some of it's appeal. We like this stuff. There's an element of the rebel in almost every one of us. We will not be told to shut up and toe the line. And this series still pulls at those strings. The Prisoner has not dated and with often intriguing stories, excellent scripts and a sterling lead role performance by Patrick McGoohan. It continues to provoke active discussion and entertains a large and loyal fanbase.

    Mysterious and at times demanding this wonderful series rewards the inquisitive viewer with insight and above all great entertainment.

  • "...all of you held positions of a secret nature and had knowledge that was invaluable to an enemy. Like me, you are here to have that knowledge protected...or extracted. Unlike me, many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment and will d

    I love this show--I couldn't decide whether to put it in the "personal favorite" category or the "trendsetter" or even the "influential" category. It is so many things! I cannot even begin to describe its coolness. I've watched it off and on since I was 2, and WOW!!! I need a word to describe it. The word is


    With that out...if you can see it, see it. If you can't, see it anyway.
  • A disturbing but entertaining show that confounded expectations of viewers and professionals in the media field.

    The Prisoner is a show that is both timeless and firmly chained in the 1960s ethos of excess and oppression. Number 6 cannot escape the (global) Village that each of us creates in order to survive in today's postmodern world of unfixed borders and morality defined by extreme relativism. It is sad that the only community explored in this show is the one that imprisons the star; individualism and solipsism are touted as the only defenses against the forces of oppression. However, McGoohan's treatment of this means of defense against those forces is extremely entertaining and provokes a lot of thought about who I am and how I define my freedom in the face of a world that defines happiness solely in terms of economic success, manifested in obtaining and showing off your goods. The show's premise, design, and unfinished plots make it a definite favorite of mine, and the only TV show I bought new in dvd format (I also have all of the episodes in vhs).
  • He's is not a number!

    The Prisoner was the most innovative, if not most surreal TV show ever to come from Great Britain.

    Patrick McGoohan (as #6) takes his role seriously as a former government agent taken from his world & planted in a world where no one can be trusted as "they" try to pry whatever secrets he had in his mind. Although it only lasted a mere 16 episodes, this series left a lasting mark on those who watched it (me included).

    I first saw this show on a Chicago PBS station back in the 1990's & i still can remember every detail right down to everyone who filled the position of #2. BTW: Leo McKern was the BEST #2 of them all!

    If only today's TV programs could be as daring & innovative as The Prisoner was.
  • Seething

    You might have to be in a certain mood. You are gloweringly angry, what with local office politics' usual betrayals. You are pent up, insofar as all your higher education has but enriched your ensnarement by cretins who live to slay the Big Picture. People you worked with dashed your trust like cracked ice cubes.

    And it's also the mid 1960's, mid Cold War well-founded paranoia, mid cultural renaissance born of youthful, iconoclastic reinventions. Times are as wild as the roaring twenties, art explodes from every urban volcano worldwide. And you're the usual Renaissance man of the times, writer, director, good-looking actor, pulling off the most artistic punch in the face since Orson Welles, another one, did same with "Kane."

    You concoct "The Prisoner," wherein your alter ego, an operative/agent quits his job over a moral issue, and, because you cannot quit your job moral issue or no, is snatched from early retirement into a gilded cage. You know too much, and they know too little, and must extract this, by hook or by crook.

    You can't leave the beautiful hotel/prison Portmeirion (Wales) with its incongruous turrets, parapets, Italiano-meets-ClubMed-Goth-Tropica-dungeon vacation nightmarescape. Everyone around you are pleasant enemies who want information, or bellicose allies in similar straits of imprisonment. All seem absolutely identical in demeanor.

    You are daily awash in a whirlwind of carnival sideshow tactics, fellow operatives, swirling out of control amidst experiments, mind-drugs, mind games and mindf-cks. All in fact is out of your control, all is surreal. Human chessboards. Hooded jurors screaming "I,I,I,I,I!" Giant beachballs attack those trying to escape. Insanity enveloping by solipstistic singing to oneself. You are a number in the prison. EVerything, everyone is against you. And you have decided this will not be your fate, despite all obstacles.

    You are the seething genius of "The Prisoner," the best tv show of an already era of creative titans, the 1960's. You are impossibly brilliant.

  • Must be seen to be believed, then seen again.

    This show is underappreciated and misunderstood by many people.

    I first got hooked on this program when my local CBS station started reruns late at night.

    After it was replaced by something of less importance, I think it was the news, I went looking for everything I could find about it.

    When I found a book entitled "The Official Prisoner Companion", I read it from cover to cover several times, and I ordered all 17 episodes on VHS from MPI Home Video, whose number was in the back of the book.

    I still have them all, along with the DVD Megaset I got a few years ago.

  • Kafkaesque, Orwellian. English doesn't have a one-word way to say "This is like something out of The Prisoner."

    The Prisoner occupies the cerebral level of television (and there's very little at that rarified level).

    Additionally, this is one of those programs you have to watch more than once. At 17 episodes for the entire series, this isn't going to be too tough.

    The entire program crystalizes around the issue of where does the right of the individual end (if at all) and where does the right of the state end (if at all). Gassed, kidnapped, imprisoned on a (very pleasant) island resort, interrogated, experimented upon, all in a quest to get the explanation to "Why did you resign?"

    A four-part graphic novel (they used to be called comic books) returns to the Village, some 20 years after the events of the final episode. For those who watch the final episode and go "Huh?" (as I did) the comic book is an excellent sequel.

    Somber, thoughtful, deliberate, confusing. The show either will grab you instantly or leave you bored. It has held up to age fairly well. The tape-reel computers are jarring, but for the most part, the series looks as though it could be happening today.
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