Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Prisoner

My buddy Neill is just now watching Lost. Lucky him! Talking to him about seasons one and two reminded me of how much I have loved the stories built into the show. He may suffer plot whiplash with all the twists and turns in the seasons to come, but he will also not have the agony of the wait.

The Prisoner is an 60s British paranoid spy drama that is often called an influence on Lost. I started watching it recently and expected it to be the loopy island drama. While it does have a person trapped in a remote area and plagued by shadowy forces, it is quite different. For one, it is much more episodic than Lost. There is apparently some debate as to the true order of the shows. In many cases you rearrange them and watch them in the order you like.

I tend to dislike episodic shows, but I have come to quite like the Prisoner. The main character is a British spy who has resigned. He is knocked out at his house and wakes up in a strange place called the Village. The residents act, dress and talk strangely and no one has a name. The main character is known as number six. He is constantly tested by a series of people known as number two.

Among the series's themes is the idea of the individual against the collective. The great powers of the Cold War, the state, the nation and the Party are shown as destroyers and grinders of the individual. Number six is one of the few willing to stand up to them.

It isn't like Lost or 24 where you feel compelled to watch as many shows as you can stand in a sitting. Each show is independent and the mood created is more one of reflection than excitement. Well worth it, if you know what you are getting into.

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