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October 24, 2014

The Prisoner

The Prisoner: Checkmate

by Michael Sciannamea, posted Jun 21st 2006 6:31PM

(S01E04) "Checkmate" is probably my favorite single episode of The Prisoner. It's a very tight story about how Number 6 thinks he has gained the upper hand on his captors in the Village but ends up being double-crossed by those he thought he could trust.

The chess game using humans as pieces with instructions being shouted out by "the masters" carries with it quite a few allegories, doesn't it? I guess that if you don't have the power, you're just a pawn in their game. (Listen to Bob Dylan's song for that.)

Number 6 still is planning his escape from the Village, and he is on the prowl searching for others to join him. After being persuaded to function as a pawn in the giant chess game, he makes contact with the Queen who, in response to his questions, attempts to steer him to concentrate on the game. Afterwards, they both discuss escape, but he doesn't seem to trust her.

Later on we see the Rook being "treated" at the hospital and he and Number 6 make plans for their escape. The Rook is an electronics expert, so he would be a a natural ally for Number 6. However, as one might have suspected, the Queen is hypnotized to fall in love with Number 6 and is given a locket that also serves as a tracking device.

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The Prisoner: Dance of the Dead

by Michael Sciannamea, posted Jun 14th 2006 6:41PM

Number 6 in his (S01E03) "Music, dance, and happiness--by order."

This episode pits Number 6 versus the new Number 2, a pixie-ish woman with a demonic laugh, in a battle over who can control who. Number 2 persuades Number 6 to join in the carnival festivities, but Number 6 wants no part of it, being that he does not want to be a member of the village and is constantly plotting to escape. He also is being observed by an attractive woman who seems not to enjoy her job, but she has no problem reporting on his activities and scheming to get him to supply Number 2 with information.

As Number 6 contemplates another escape, he comes across a dead body on the beach, where he finds a wallet and a radio on him and takes them with him after he hides the body in a cave. As time passes on, Number 2 continues "by hook or by crook" to get Number 6 to assimilate more into the Village, but his anger at being there and his plans for escape are his prime motivation.

When watching this show, it's amazing to see how many psychological devices are used to get prisoners to talk. Electric shock treatment, the administering of powerful drugs, and mind control techniques are just a few of the ways that the powers-that-be use to get what they want. I bring it up only because even though British television in the 60s certainly allowed more "adult" or "controversial" material to be broadcasted than the FCC would in America, but it's pretty strong stuff just the same.

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The Prisoner: Free For All

by Michael Sciannamea, posted Jun 7th 2006 7:48PM

Campaign support for Number 6Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of your favorite shows, in order, every week.

(S01E02) Before we go any further, I just want to say those of you who would ask why am I reviewing this episode of The Prisoner (which was the fourth episode aired in the series) but appearing here as the second. First, in both the VCR and DVD compilations, this episode is listed second. (In addition, it was the second episode filmed.) Plus, I think this episode fits in better in the second slot anyway, because we get to see how Number 2 "by hook or by crook" tries to get Number 6 to tell why he resigned his post as a spy.

In this episode, Number 2 convinces Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan) to run for office as the new Number 2. Number 2 says that an election is held every 12 months, and so far there is no other candidate besides him that is running. Of course, being a new "resident" of the Village, Number 6 is quite skeptical over the whole thing. Plus, as he reiterates from the first episode, "I am not a number. I am a person."

Number 6 is then assigned an assistant, an attractive woman dressed as a French maid who offers to drive him everywhere and serve his needs, all while speaking in a foreign language. The episode is especially interesting as it "parodies" political campaigns where you have canned speeches and planned photo opportunities, ie, "rehearsed spontaniety."

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The Prisoner: Arrival

by Michael Sciannamea, posted May 31st 2006 1:07PM

Patrick McGoohan is Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of your favorite shows, in order, every week.

(S01E01) "I am not a number. I am a free man!"

You can't get much more "retro" than The Prisoner, which first appeared on British television in the fall of 1967 and then in the U.S. about a year later. It starred Patrick McGoohan, who also served as the 17-episode show's executive producer. (You may remember him as the warden of Alcatraz in Escape from Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood.)

When you watch this show, it seems other-worldly. Granted, it's nearly 40 years old, but it also was ahead of it's time, especially in the blending of technology into the stories. (Dig those cool cordless phones!) It also has influenced many television shows and movies (just do a Google search and you'll see what I mean). It's very difficult to talk about a show you've seen many times and have enjoyed for just as long without giving away too much, but let me set you up with the basic premise and take off from there.

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The big finales are over, so now what?

by Keith McDuffee, posted May 26th 2006 12:45PM
retro squadThe big finales are finally over. Though we have a few cool premieres starting in the coming weeks, from Rescue Me (5/30) to Deadwood (6/11), let's face it -- TV isn't the same after May sweeps. The question that's floated around the TV Squad headquarters in the past couple of months has been, "what else can we review for the readers?" Enter "Retro Squad."

Starting this coming Sunday, we're going to take you back in time just a little bit. Remember all of those great shows that are no longer airing, either from being cancelled or ending long runs and taking a bow? Or maybe you remember the first seasons of shows still on the air? Of course you do; it's what makes you one of the millions of fans of these cult-classic shows. Well, we're going to bring them back to you, one episode at a time, every week. Read on for the exciting details.

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