Rich's review of The Prisoner
"Who are you?"
"The New Number 2."
"Who is Number 1?"
"You are Number 6."
"I AM NOT A NUMBER! I AM A FREE MAN!"
[insert evil laugh here]
The Prisoner has had, as I've come to find out, great influence on both film and television for its storytelling and style; it also has a good following even though it only ran for 17 episodes from 1967 to early 1968.
I only found out about this show very recently, and am genuinely surprised I didn't learn of it sooner.
Generally speaking, what most fans of this show come to the conclusion of is that the series starts off great, but the ending is just plain awful.
Do I agree with this? Mostly, yes. I'll get more into that in a moment.
While watching episodes of this show, I guarantee you will pick out scenes that you've seen repeated in other shows and movies. You'll see the obvious influence from The Prisoner everywhere from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery to certain episodes of Star Trek: Voyager to a whole bunch of other shows and movies.
I wish there were more instances of Rovers
Most episodes of The Prisoner take place in a place called The Village, and that place has many security measures in place to make sure nobody escapes. The most interesting piece of security to keep people in check is what's known as a Rover.
A Rover is a thing that looks like a big white balloon, and you don't know whether it's alive or a machine or a strange combination of both. When it appears, a deafening roar is heard, not-so subtly hinting that it is, in fact, alive... but possibly not because it also makes an electronic style noise as well. The sole purpose of a Rover, as far as I know, is to either recapture or kill anyone who tries to escape The Village.
The Rover is also interesting for the fact that if it even suspects someone may try to escape, it will slowly follow just to make sure whomever it's following stays in line.
The powers who run The Village are the ones that deploy a Rover and it would appear all Rovers "live" in the sea (although in the first episode, a Rover manifests itself out of a water fountain.) When one is requested, it shoots up from the sea floor to the surface, and then seeks out the target it's assigned to.
My only complaint about the Rovers? I wish the show had used them more.
Is the show any good?
This is where I talk about "good start, awful ending" concerning The Prisoner.
If you decide to watch this show, I obviously can't guarantee you'll feel the same way I do about it, but these are my observations.
At first, I was really emotionally invested in this show. It started off being mysterious and weird and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what Number 6's real name was, I wanted to know more about The Village, I wanted to know where The Village was, and so on. There was certainly enough there to make me think, "Yeah, this is worth watching to see it through so my questions will answered to satisfy my curiosity."
Episodes 1 through 9 are great. Episodes 10 and 11 are where things started getting shaky. Episode 12... eh, not liking this... and then from 13 until the end, episode 17, is where everything goes down in flames.
I will say this however: At least there is an end. While true not all questions are answered and it's one of the most awful conclusions to a television show you will ever see in your life (I'm not kidding,) it's better than no end.
If you're asking yourself, "Is the final episode really that bad?" Yes, it is that bad. I can understand what the show was trying to do, but ultimately it was just a total mess. Even when the final episode originally aired, viewers at the time were rightly ticked off.
Why the sudden sharp turn into the dumper at the end? One of the original co-creators of the show had left due to disagreements. He had written a far better end, but since he left, his story arc wasn't used. The end result is the mess that is the final episode.
Even though the final episode makes me wince, I still enjoyed watching The Prisoner. It's not like anything else I've seen before.
What I liked best was actually the fact I could not predict what was going to happen next; the show does this in a very good way.
With many TV shows, even for brand new ones made today, you'll be able to easily predict what will happen from scene to scene for episodes you've not even seen before. Why? Crappy writing and reused storylines over and over again...
...which does not happen in The Prisoner whatsoever, and that's good.
Sure, the show may be kitschy and campy at times, but what it does do right it does very well.
It is totally worth flipping over a few bucks to watch this.