DO NOT FORSAKE ME,
"I AM NOT
RANKED 13th Considering McGoohans absence during the production this episode isn't as bad as many describe it. Quite awful the Seltzmann-machine and the reverse process, hopefully intended as a caricature on those out of Dr. Frankensteins lab. But overall an episode of many missed chances.
Don't read any further unless you know THE PRSIONER already and you want to delve more indepth into theoretical discussions and facts around the history of the production. - Be seeing you!
Hardly anyone likes this episode with the original, rather poetic title "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling" or, respectively, that almost teutonically exact equation "2:2=2". The original working title was "Face Unknown". This episode bears the stigma that it's ever been condemned by many commentators as being utter rubbish with bad production values and wretched acting; somewhat understandable but it isn't the whole truth.
is not known who brought in the song title from the Fred Zinnemann
noble western HIGH NOON (1952). Ian L. Rakoff said that this would have been the title of his "Living In Harmony" draft. It is probable that copyright considerations played a role
because the story underwent substantial reworking before the now familiar
From the start the mind of Number Six is in the body of another man, played by Nigel Stock. It is the intention of the Village responsibles to coerce Number Six into cooperation and to detect Professor Seltzmann, the inventor of that piece of machinery as he's the only one with the knowledge to perform the reverse process. So Number Six has to make his way to Austria where Seltzman is supposed to be living. It was taken for granted that the Prisoner would (be) return(ed) to the Village.
TOUCH OF BOND, JAMES BOND HERE. WHO'S THE MAN WITH THE "FACE UNKNOWN"
(ORIGINAL TITLE)? NUMBER SIX, IN THE BODY OF A DIFFERENT MAN,
ENCOUNTERS HIS EX-FIANCÉE - A TRUCLKOAD FULL OF POTENTIAL DRAMA, BUT NOT HERE.
Vincent Tilsley was the author of this episode. During the 2003 Prisoner convention he told about the way his script was handled and that he had had mixed feelings about it. Because the task here was to create a convincing PRISONER story without having the principal actor present. Patrick McGoohan was in the USA for his Hollywood debut movie, the John Sturges film ICE STATION ZEBRA. Back home it was decided to end the series after the completion of 17 episodes.
The idea of the mind transfer was a hard undertaking. Tilsley delivered the script of "Forsake" hoping he'd receive an invitation to a discussion about it (together with Tomblin, Markstein, McGoohan?) in order to get
THE PRISONER NEARLY ICED
Lew Grade pulled the funding of the series, money was fast running out for the production of the last four episodes [ed.: "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling", "Living In Harmony", "The Girl Who Was Death", "Fall Out"]. So much so that the production crew were putting their own wages into the production simply to keep it ticking over. If McGoohan hadn't taken on the role in ICE STATION ZEBRA monies would have had to have been found elsewhere, otherwise production would have stopped and who knows what after that.
Ian Rakoff, in his book "Inside THE PRISONER" wrote how David Tomblin told him that the series was in big money trouble. Patrick McGoohan told Rakoff that he was leaving for Hollywood for the sake of THE PRISONER "That'll mean we can do another four episodes." It was a matter of financing the last four episodes the way he wanted them to be. Otherwise the series would have been taken out of McGoohan's hands. McGoohan said he couldn't get out of going, he wanted to save the series. Credit and thanks to David Stimpson.
the threads and the whole story improved. As a result he hoped to achieve a conclusive episode. But Tilsley ever happend. Neither did he know if his script had been rejected nor if it had indeed been turned into a film without notifying him. Eventually, when he heard this episode was being screened and he was watching it on television he almost failed to identify it as "his" episode. McGoohan was totally dissatisfied with it. Probably the script was rewritten by David Tomblin, the story thereby losing so much of its initial meat as to enforce a title change from "Face Unknown" to "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling". And maybe, already working on the subsequent episode that he was going to direct, too, Tomblin did have something in his mind: the western parable "Living In Harmony".
Of Tilsley's concept it's quintessentially the mind transfer which remained solely intact. In one of the previous SIX-OF-ONE society magazines the two episode scripts "Face Unknown" and "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling" were compared to each other. According to this survey Tilsley's "Face Unkown" was much better than the final work. Number Six' resignation was at the centre of it and the letter he later dashes on his superior's desk. He receives a treatment in the "room of oblivion" and he, now in the body of "the Colonel" whose name in Tilsley's script is Oscar, is sent back to the day of his resignation where he experiences the important hours that lead him to his decision as a matter of conscience. A regression therapy of that kind can be found very similarly in the episode "Once Upon A Time" where there is an "Embryo Room" as the central place of the action. One musn't forget, however, that this episode had in fact been produced many weeks earlier - written and directed by McGoohan himself; a reason to reject it?
"Forsake" is believed by some to have been the first episode of a second season. Of all, it is the only episode to have a so called pre-credit sequence, something which is quite popular as a dramatic device to get the TV audience hooked and keep the interest alive during the following commercial break right before the start of the actual credit sequence. And indeed, this intro is really good, worth a thriller and intriguing, makes you want to get more. Moreover, the episode offers a sequence of (albeit only stock) footage of a journey through Europe by car which lends an ample ambience to it, a taste of Bond, James Bond here.
On the contrary, the machine required for the reverse process of this
mind transfer on Number Six is likely to have come from the 1950s SF-trash props department. Put in favour of those responsible, it could
be regarded as a parody of it.
And there is one curious detail, to say the least, about Number Six who, as a private person, is almost inexistent. That he is supposed to have been engaged for some time to Janet, his former superior's daughter. Who he now encounters in the body of a different man - a dramatic gold mine. But not here. Sadly, the script doesn't take advantage of the constellation and nothing ensues with regard to whatever drama, except that Number Six has to prove to Janet, rather technically, it's really him who she met.
The name itself is German or Austrian and because of his first name being Jacob he could be a Jew: Professor Seltzman. Apart from this, the character and actor Hugo Schuster's appearance in general don't do less than to insinuate the parallel Albert Einstein, something that would certainly be welcome by the script here.
Number Two, upon the encounter with Seltzman, intentionally uses the expression "Heil!" which was the common German salute to the "Führer" during the "Third Reich" and also his typical hand gesture. Why this? This little instance might hint to a darker past. Number Two certainly knows about Seltzman and his past. What if Seltzman had been suffering from Nazi terror? In reminding Seltzman of what had happened, actually threatening him, Number Two then would employ questionable but arguably cynical methods in order to make the professor work for him.
When Tilsley was told the German title "2:2=2" he was amazed but kind of liked that non-working equation, that the title wasn't so far off as it appeared at first glance. Nevertheless, there was his overall feeling of discomfort that this episode just isn't "his" episode. On the other hand, his name as the author has been connected with this episode ever since. And this is surely more than nothing.
TEXT: Arno Baumgärtel, RESEARCH by Michael Brüne