saw the 40th anniversary of the initial German TV screening of THE
asked: What was it that got you hooked to the series? When and why
did you become a PRISONER fan? Why do you hold on to a show that
its creator Patrick McGoohan always hoped it would stay a contemporary
work of art? And what is it that made it possible for more recent
TV shows or theatrical films to be called "prisoneresque"?
Contributions sent in try to answer these questions - each in its
Big thanks to all the authors who took part! German language
University, Indiana, USA
und studentinnen am Department of Religious Studies
nachstehenden texte stammen von teilnehmerinnen und teilnehmern
des von Prof. Valarie Ziegler und Jason Fuller im
frühjahr 2009 betreuten seminars "Religion and Film: Understanding
The Prisoner". Ms. Ziegler hat im rahmen ihrer veranstaltung
mit ihren studierenden bereits zweimal die PRISONER-Convention in
like to express my gratitude to all who submitted their impressions
and experience. You certainly helped keeping THE PRISONER spirit
alive, in Germany too.
Very big thanks also to Ms. Ziegler who, upon my request, passed
on my query "What's special about THE PRISONER?" and encouraged you to participate! Submitted texts are published
here in no particular order! - Arno Baumgärtel
Julie Kallas THE PRISONER is special because it is groundbreaking.
Never before had a show taken so many chances with their audience,
and had it pay off to such a spectacular degree.
all means, THE PRISONER should not have been successful in the formulaic
world of 1960s television; the fact that audiences even stuck with
it says a lot for its worth. After all, the show had only two recurring
characters; its main character was never named; and the final episode
turned the entire series on its head. In an age when audience didn't
have the option to watch television as we do today - through DVR,
DVDs, and the Internet, in addition to plain old television - it
is astounding that a 17-episode series could garner such a following
in just one year, and maintain that following until the present
day. Without THE PRISONER, we wouldn't have Trekkies or Comic-Con;
the term "fanatic" can be defined by Patrick McGoohan's
loyal followers. Everyone who came after owes their fandom to the
PROF. VALARIE ZIEGLER WITH PRISONER AUTHOR IAN L. RAKOFF
By Alex Thompson Perhaps its the concept of escaping with escapism,
the concept of a case study being entertaining, watching something
so self-aware and self-reflective
arent we all a little
bit like that? It is that child-like egoism where the world exists
to reflect upon us that drives McGoohan, that drives the Prisoner.
Its irreverent, important and perennial.
its watching someone so perfectly unlike us someone
perfect, without doubts and without defeat. Though No. 6 is constantly
manipulated to forget himself, he is the key, the code to be cracked.
The Village relies on him one hundredfold more than he relies on
them. He is the master of his own fate, and others as well.
To see someone so unflinchingly earnest, so laughably smug and angry
and vindictive and subversive is refreshing in a post-election year
where televisions are populated by grinning, two-faced politicians
who are deathly serious about the wrong things and dont think
about those things that might separate them from the faceless majority.
Obama is more than willing to spend time and money distancing himself
from a wild Reverend but he doesnt spend a moment or a cent
to discuss his own identity which, as a curiously blended Black-American,
is probably extraordinarily interesting.
VALARIE ZIEGLER YOUR
ARE AFRAID OF YOURSELF
MORE: NUMMER 6 M.A. (German language)
40 YEARS NUMMER 6 - GERMAN TV
PAGE OF THIS WEBSITE
MORE: VILLAGE STORY BOOK (German language)
BLICK: NUMMER 6 - PRISONER CONVENTION
6 is unabashed and bitter he has reason to be. Within the
context of the Village his demeanor rarely changes but when
he leaves in "Fall Out" we suddenly see a man subtly change,
dancing and singing.
Its an acting/directing/producing/writing decision that marks
THE PRISONER as both a shove-it-down-your-throat allegory and a
subtle, subtle character stuffy.
Christine Walker To me, the thing that makes THE PRISONER special is what its
end goal is. Most television programs, both in the late 1960s and
still today want to give the viewers a nice, tidy, well-rounded
conclusion in which any questions that have been presented are fully-answered.
What makes THE PRISONER both special, and at times frustrating,
is the lack of answers at the end of each episode and at the end
of the entire series.
are some questions that are specific to the series that we never
have answered; Why the Penny-farthing? Where is the Village really?
Who picks the Number Twos? The more disturbing questions however
extend far outside of the series itself. What does it mean to be
free? How do we know we are free? Is the system we all live in a
Village in its own right? What makes Prisoner viewers squirm in
their seats is that these questions are left to the viewer themselves
to answer because, as we can see through the very last episode,
"Fall Out", THE PRISONER does not plan on answering them
for us. All we are left with is that we may all have been duped
as it seems so many of the citizens of The Village have been with
our only hope being that there is a Number Six out there somewhere
fighting for us to be free.
Kyle Kerrigan "What
makes THE PRISONER special?": The Dichotomy of the Protagonist
PRISONER television series at once attracts audiences to
the plight of someone wrongfully imprisoned while simultaneously
preventing viewers from relating to the protagonist, Number Six.
Viewers cannot help but sympathize with the Prisoner because his
situation embodies one of the greatest fears in society: the imprisonment
of an innocent man. Occasionally, viewers are compelled to cheer
for a criminal protagonist in roles similar to the Prisoner's. In
this instance, however, THE PRISONER series remains even more appealing
because the central character is wrongfully captured and restrained.
are attracted to this injustice in THE PRISONER and immediately
anticipate his escape from his prison, the Village. Yet, after the
viewer is drawn into the Prisoner's dilemma, one becomes disheartened
in certain respects.
Unlike James Bond and conventional conceptions of spy characters,
Number Six does not want to be associated his countrys intelligence
agency and places himself before "mother England." More
importantly, the Prisoner does not pursue relationships with females
and actually dismisses female efforts to become intimate with him.
These deviations from the traditional spy mold prevent the viewer
from identifying with the Prisoner: men cannot understand why Number
Six rejects the glamorous spy profession and refuses to sleep with
women; and women cannot envision themselves in intimate relationships
with Number Six because he declines all female advances.
are intended to sympathize with Number Six and rebuffed when we
do. Thus, THE PRISONER series is special because viewers are fascinated
by the injustice of imprisoning an innocent man, but are simultaneously
discouraged by their detachment from the protagonist, a unique dichotomy
Shie Kantor For me, THE PRISONER is special because of
the many different facets that it can be viewed through. If possible,
I'd like to describe the series as an onion of sorts. There are
so many different layers, and as you peel away each layer, there
is more and more that the viewer can analyze and enjoy. For example,
it is possible to view THE PRISONER as a one dimensional television
series, created for pure enjoyment, but it is also possible, as
shown by our class, to view it as a commentary on many different
things from politics to religion to the human psyche. The commentary
on society through religion and politics seems to also have many
idea that each layer of the television series has its own layers
is also incredibly special.
course there are other series that are commentaries, but I have
yet to find one that is as intricate and well thought out as THE
PRISONER. Every episode has its own idea that it explores while
still focusing on the bigger ideas that are threaded throughout
the entirety of the series. Ideas such as the rise of communism,
the idea of an everyman, and the idea of a "big brother".
The facts that THE PRISONER has sustained such a large fan following
for so long, has inspired academia, and has themes that can relate
to society over forty years after its production prove how special
this television series is.
Daniel Lopez I believe that the depth of the show's
issues during a time of extreme liberalism is what makes the show
Brittney Belcher To
understand why THE PRISONER is so special, one must look to the
source, Patrick McGoohan. As the famous 1960s British actor
not only starred in the series, directed and wrote a couple of episodes,
he was also the master mind behind its creation. Aside from my personal
bias of McGoohans dreamy and handsome physical features, his
role as Number Six possessed a certain charisma and familiarity
that viewers could relate to. How many people in their everyday
lives have wanted to rebel against something, someone, or somewhere?
Number Six was an outlet for many fans to go against the establishment,
which transformed into something different for everyone. During
this time period, the establishment could have been the home many
housewives were bound to, it could have been the norms of society
that oppressed homosexuals and minorities, or simply the fear civilians
held during the Cold War.
PRISONER confirmed many beliefs for those that suspected governments
of constant surveillance. It questioned meanings of being free and
freedom; what do they mean, does anyone really have it, can we make
our own choices, live they way we choose, or is it all served to
us and we take it for face value and become mindless drones to society?
In particular, I appreciated THE PRISONER because of the individuality
Number Six possessed and maintained throughout the series. He highlighted
the importance of "knowing thy self" and staying to true
to what he believed, and I admire that.
Lucy First When I first sat down to watch THE
PRISONER, I had mixed feelings. It was unlike anything I had ever
watched. I did not like the unfamiliar storyline or the strangeness
of the Village. Overall, I did not like the show. But when I started
talking about it with my professors and with my classmates, I realized
that I was only looking at the surface of the show. Everyone had
a different opinion of the show. Everyone noticed different aspects
of the Village. Everyone learned a different message.
makes THE PRISONER so special is all the various meanings. No one
watches the show and gets the same feeling or meaning as another
person. The show allows everyone to feel unique and special because
they have a different interpretation. All of these variations bring
people together and create dialogue between people who may never
have spoken. In these two ways, THE PRISONER accomplishes what most
television shows and most people only dream of accomplishing.
We should all take notes from THE PRISONER and maybe then we would
be on our way to a happier world.
Michael Reed THE PRISONER's greatness lies in
its mystery. Just as No. 6 struggles to find out exactly what the
Village is, Prisoner fans are open to endless interpretations of
the shows meaning. The varying interpretations all point to
one conclusion however; the Prisoner itself still applies to our
short, we would not be talking about the show still if it did not
apply in some way to our life.
Whether it is as an attempt to understand the cultural mayhem and
liberal forces of the 60s or as a metaphor for Gnosticism, Prisoner
fans are still finding applications for the bizarre world of the
Village. Not only does THE PRISONER offer interpretations for our
own individuality, but also offers comments on society as a whole
that can be both uplifting and depressing. THE PRISONER, despite
just being 17 episodes, therefore gives more to its audience that
perhaps any other show, yet somehow gives so much by revealing so
While Patrick McGoohan has recently passed away, the travails of No. 6 (or is it No. 1?) will forever live on in ways that are
debatable and frustrating. Just as McGoohan demanded to know "Whats
it all about?"
Prisoner fans are still asking the same question.
Grace Kestler THE PRISONER is special for many
reasons. It is obviously a show different from any other I have
seen. It deals a lot with scenes that are somewhat dreamlike and
not logical. The fiction story leads the viewer through No. 6s
stay at the village. No other show consists of a giant ball with
hidden knowledge. There is one person in charge and everyone seems
to be working towards keeping No. 6 in the village. The series also
leaves the viewer confused at many points, searching for the right
conclusion. I think that because we do not fully understand what
is happening at all times we become even more engaged. In this sense,
THE PRISONER has a lot of hidden messages that someone is always
trying to figure out.
show is also special because it is pretty far-fetched. None of the
events are normal occurrences. Therefore, the viewer has to stretch
their mind in order to attempt to understand the point of the series.
It is clearly for entertainment, while also provoking thought on
human life. The fan-culture around the show is extreme for being
such a short show. It obviously attracts a wide group of people
and engages them through its quirky plot and characters. I think
it seems so special because No. 6 is always trying to find a new
way to escape. The viewer gets involved with him and tracks his
We become involved with him and the excitement that he provokes.
VALARIE ZIEGLER YOUR
ARE AFRAID OF YOURSELF
1969 GERMAN TV
PREMIERE OF NUMMER (German language)