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Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner" 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:17 pm
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Location: The Quiet Earth
Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
"Leaving the audience with questions" is one thing, and I too would have disapproved of a "and then the little spy fell out of bed and woke up" ending.

But going out of the way - to put it mildly - to weird the bejayzuss out of the audience for no apparent or meaningful reason is another kettle of eels entirely.

"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.

Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:47 pm
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
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Post Re: Why I won’t be watching AMC’s “The Prisoner"
PeterScott wrote:
When I first saw the final episode (of the original) I was a bit disappointed for reasons that could be described in the same terms as Jim's colorful language. But upon reflection, it makes sense - I don't mean that the episode itself makes sense, I mean it makes sense why McGoohan did it that way. The overweening desire is for the final episode to wrap up the series into a neat little bundle of closed subplots tied up with a bow of All Questions Answered. But that would have defeated the show's purpose - think for yourselves, you lazy bastards - so that final episode had to leave the viewer with mostly questions. As tempting as it is to give the masses their pablum of answers, when I think about it, works that force people to think are the ones that get more lasting attention.

That pretty much echoes what McGoohan said about it in the one extended interview he gave about the series.

There is a hell of a lot of *stuff* going on in that double-episode, though, and you just could not be linear and get it all in. For one thing he had to get in all the qualifications that came through very weakly in the linear episodes -- how deeply even the free man is bound up in and constrained by his biology (e.g., the ape "reveal" for the judge's cowl) and how cultural attitudes toward class and power come along with you (the dwarf butler) and are liberating in some ways even as they constrain in others. The series was set up to make a thematic argument about opposition, so he had to get in those qualifications by Nietzschean esthetic images so striking people are still talking about them forty years later.

I was sixteen years old when I saw that -- Prague summer it was, with Soviet tanks rolling into the streets of Prague to suppress yet another liberalizing movement, just twelve years after Hungary -- and the Chicago DNC going on at the same time. (and FWIIW, I was reading the second or third book of Allen Drury's Advise and Consent series). And amid the Beverly HIllbillies and My Mother the Car, The Prisoner gave a very gratifying sense of how experimental and intense television could be.

Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:31 pm
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