Welcome back to another installment of Sci-Fi Sunday! This week for your viewing pleasure we have the first episode entitled “Arrival” from the 1967 cult classic series The Prisoner!
Originally broadcast on September 29, 1967 this first episode sets the stage for one of the most surreal TV series ever. Back in the day the fans of Patrick McGoohan’s Danger Man (Secret Agent as it was known in the United States) must have been shocked when they were presented with what would eventually be 17 episodes filled with anti-war and anti-establishment messages, not to mention cutting dialogue and images filled with double meanings.
The late great Patrick McGoohan, who had become dissatisfied with his role as John Drake on Danger Man, is generally considered to have been the sole creator for the TV series. Though a disputed co-creator credit was noted to be given to George Markstein (Script Editor for Danger Man) in the 1980s.
The premise of the series as explained beautifully in the intro concerns an unnamed British secret agent who for reasons we are not made aware of resigns his job…rather forcefully…to his superior. While the agent is preparing to leave for a vacation or flee for his life he is rendered unconscious by way of knockout gas pumped into his apartment. Upon waking the agent finds himself in a strange ‘Village’ where he is assigned a name of sorts, a designation as Number 6.
For the most part Number 6 is given free reign throughout the Village but not his freedom, he is kept a prisoner by the geographical location of the Village as well as by its security forces…including a large white ball that is known as Rover who can capture or kill a fleeing individual on command of Number 2 and his staff. Why is Number 6 kept a prisoner? Someone or some organization wants to know why he resigned. A request that Number 6 refuses to submit to no matter what manner of psychological or physical torture the inflict upon him.
Now a big subject of debate between the Prisoner fans and one that has persisted since it’s original airing is the identity of Patrick McGoohan’s character of Number 6. Is he in fact John Drake from Danger Man? Well, like most everything in the series it is left up to the viewer to decide for themselves…though the photo that is being crossed out does seem to be the same as John Drake’s ID.