THE SCHIZOID MAN
"I AM NOT
RANKED 5th For the concept of the split/double personality and the iconic image of Number Six/Curtis, good dialogues, a credible Anton Rodgers Number Two and an equally believable near-happy end. Whats more: all this is a studio-based episode.
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!
"The Schizoid Man" episode was made by the end of 1966 during the initial production period. However, it does not benefit particularly from location footage shot in the late summer of the year. Apart from some Portmeirion stock footage it was shot completely in the former Borehamwood studio. Keeping that in mind, it is a good example to prove that studio-bound episodes, thinking of "A. B. and C." and "The General", don't necessarily have to be scanty while, likewise, the use of original locations doesn't automatically result in quality stuff.
A doppelganger appears in the Village, one of them is the goodie the other one is the baddie, with gaping philosophical or sociological profoundness, or shallowness, that may reach back to the early silent DER STUDENT VON PRAG (1913). "The trouble with science is that it can be perverted" says Number Six, also a McGoohan credo, when asked by Number Two to have his identity checked by some technical means. Employing a manipulation that runs over a period of time, the Village hopes to confuse Number Six and overwhelm his self-confidence as they confront him with himself, apparently. Due to some crucial detail and the time factor the plan is ultimately foiled. And once again we have the usual plotline of trying to outwit Number Two and a chance for the Prisoner to get away from the Village.
TWO TAKES NO CHANCES, NO BULLETS, FULLY ELECTRONIC:
NUMBER SIX AND "THE ECONOMY PACK" AT THE SHOUT-OUT CONTEST,
BUSY TO DETERMINE WHO'S THE REAL ONE.
The story's outset, visually and intellectually, is highly intriguing: The character Number Six is doubled, or split up. The plot of the "Schizoid" episode thereby provides a rather black twist in aiming at nothing less as to undermine the basic concept of the very series: that Number Six is an individual. Now, here Number Six has to prove that he is a number!
The episode's tone is quite serious although there is also some irony. It wasn't until the release of the DVD box that German audiences witnessed the elaborate dialogues of Number Six and his doppelgänger-enemy Number Twelve. Just a taste of it:
12: What the devil...?
(Number Six approaches Number 12)
Number 12: (giggling) Oh, very good. Very good indeed. One of Number Two's little ideas, I suppose? Where did they get you? A people's copying service, or you're one of those double agents we hear so much about these days?
Number Six: (not amsed) Since you've gone through so much trouble, the least I can do is... offer you a drink.
Number 12: Scotch. (they walk into the living room)
Number 12: I take it, I'm supposed to go all fuzzy around the edges and run off into the distance, screaming "who am I"?
Number Six: Probably, I have no idea.
There ist a correspondence in contrariness of this episode and "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling". Because in "The Schizoid Man" Number Six' person and personality are doubled, or duplicated, they are split in "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling". But there is a contradicton: Number Six' double/duplicated personality causes a split personality or, at least, identity crisis. On the other hand, the split personality of Number Six (in "Forsake") causes the existence of a doppelganger, a second entity of his partial identity. As the English expression double in connection with personality means split personality. It's a mind-boggling - schizoid and schizophrenic - thing. Thanks to Michael Brüne for this observation.
As far as special effects and acting are concerned "The Schizoid Man" was the most demanding of the whole PRISONER series. A double role for McGoohan, and intricate split-screen technique was used and Frank Maher, who always stood in for McGoohan and did the stunts, had to learn fencing. One less convincing moment, on the other hand, we find as to how Number Six regains control over his physical handicap. A car chase and a fistfight with his adversary, the "economy pack" as (the true) Number Six would call him, were not included in the final cut of the episode. And one thing that every TV addict would have expected, that scriptwriter Terence Feely says he did deliver but McGoohan wasn't willing to accept - something that still resides in the subtext of the story: an affair with a woman.
DAVE BARRIE: S IS FOR... SCHIZOID
Alison, one of the few people in the Village with proper names who practises for a mindreading contest with Number Six, must be the love interest of the show that never came into being. It is said that McGoohan in person cared for the fact that there never ever was a way from the substitution plot of reading the thoughts of others to emotion let alone kissing Alison, or even more.
More than 40 years later the Alison character, Number 24 in the episode, played by actress Jane Merrow, would perform again in Larry Hall's short film RESOLUTION, an inofficial coda to the series if you like, with incredible authenticity.
TEXT: Arno Baumgärtel