Thursday, January 15, 2009

Memories of Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner

I just heard that Mr. McGoohan has made his transition to the other realm. I have memories of watching Secret Agent Man (Danger Man in the UK) with my paternal grandfather. It was more like I would annoy him with questions as he tried to watch TV.

It was a very different time. In the summer it could be so hot that you didn't want to go out or necessarily stay inside. There wasn't air conditioning. There were open windows or a fan or if you were really lucky two fans.

Wet T-shirts had nothing to do with displaying your sex appeal. It was functional use with the fan blowing on you so you could sleep. You could hear the fight down the street or if it was really hot people would just exhausted. It could be so quiet you could hear the trolley from two blocks up.

There was nothing to do but read or watch TV. There were only three channels. Three and a half if you counted National Education Television, which was the precursor to PBS. That only came on air after 4:30/5pm if we were lucky.

Anyway, The Prisoner was a summer replacement for the Jackie Gleason program. I was really young when I saw The Prisoner on CBS. I don't want to give the impression that I was a sophisticated kid. It was a matter of my kinda recognizing the actor and something about being chased by a giant balloon.

So I watched. I can tell you that I did understand that this was a guy who quit his job and was about to get out of town when he woke up in a strange place. I understood he wanted to escape and did everything in his power to do so. Every week he was right back where he started.

And that big-A balloon did scare me a bit. I didn't care for the things in the first place but to be hunted by one. Freaky.

The Prisoner is a long lasting gift. Kind of like Rocky and Bullwinkle. As I grew older, I got the inside jokes and the hidden and not so hidden messages. The fears changed from balloons to conformity. Or maybe understanding the illusions of security. How safe do you want to be and what would you give up. What defines your integrity and can it be stripped from you?

It was visually clean and I hope the cinematographer got an Emmy or something. 40 years on the thing still looks beautiful.

AMC is doing a 2009 remake of the program.. If they must so be it but I don't see why. It was designed as a limited series with a beginning, middle and end. It is perfect just as it is. They better do it right because this is an anchor point for many lovers of good television.

It is great to catch up on the series and learn my next set of lessons. American Movie Channel is showing all 17 episodes of the original series online or you can watch one minute summaries of the episodes.

Really, don't do that, you will be cheating yourself and you are gonna turn around and watch the whole thing anyway.

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