The Prisoner – 40th Anniversary Special Edition

Now this is another one of those “make Les buy stuff twice[1]” things, but I’m prepare to forgive it.

The Prisoner shouldn’t really need any introduction, but that’s never stopped me from talking about anything else, so here goes. The series was devised by its star, Patrick McGoohan after he got bored with making his very successful show Danger Man[2]. The series opens with a man – we learn later that he’s some kind of intelligence agent – resigning. He’s followed home by suitably mysterious people who release gas through his door. The man loses consciousness. When he comes round, he finds he’s in a facsimile of his room which has been created in a bizarre isolated village.

The village is known only as The Village, and it appears to be a secret installation run by some government or other to interrogate and keep people who know too much. McGoohan’s character is told that he is Number Six, and in the seventeen episodes we see his battles with a sequence of Number Twos[3]. They want information. He won’t let them have it. He wants to know the identity of Number One. They won’t tell him. But they do attempt a variety of entertaining ways to persuade Number Six to talk.

The series is often bizarre, surreal and damned strange. Number Six is a fascinating character – far too awkward, individualistic and brilliant to be beaten down by the best efforts of his opponents. If you’ve never seen it, you really should. Now. Right away.

People who are familiar with the series will be wondering why they should want to buy this box, especially if they already have one of the previous releases. Well, this one has been given a much needed wash and brush-up, or “digital remastering” as its more usually known. The soundtrack has been given a fresh Dolby 5.1 mix. There are commentaries on a selection of episodes. There’s a new, and quite long, documentary on the making of the series, with contributions from many of those who were involved. Patrick McGoohan’s involvement is limited to an on-screen caption which quotes him as saying, in effect “if you didn’t understand it, I’m not explaining it, so there”, which is pretty much what I expected from him, so that’s OK.

There are a lot of other bits and pieces and a 300 page book – a detailed guide to the production of the series, with more information than most reasonable people could ask for.

This is a good box set – shop around if you’re interested. When I got it Virgin Zavvi had it for £5 less than Amazon.

[1] Or three times if you count the old VHS release…
[2] Known as Secret Agent in some countries
[3] I’m not going to make the obvious joke :lol: