This Document Copyright 1999 © by
John F. Uske (All Rights Reserved)

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The "Prisoner" TV show aired from: Oct 1967 to: Feb 1968

Growing up I had watched a great many secret agent type shows and movies because it was a very popular theme back then, but the Prisoner was a very different type of secret agent show. The star of this show was Patrick McGoohan who used to be the star of an earlier spy type TV show called "Secret Agent Man" That show was a British import that I did not like too much. However I did enjoy another British Import. That show was called "The Saint" featuring Roger Moore as the debonair agent Simon Templar. Roger Moore went on to become the next James Bond after Sean Connery.

Getting back to the Prisoner, what made it so different was the plot. What if you're a spy agency that has a secret agent that gave you many years of good service and one, day he walks in to the office and says: "I quit!" and walks out. What do you do with a guy like that, whose head is filled with all sorts of secret knowledge and now he suddenly wants out?

The Prisoner presented a scenario that was so far flung in concept that this has to be considered one of the most original story lines in television history. The Prisoner was also a British Import and Patrick McGoohan was the co-creator of this series. In the opening music sequence one can see the secret agent (Patrick McGoohan) resigns in a fit of rage and storms out of his employers office. Upon returning to his home he is gassed asleep and whisked away to a secret island. Upon awakening he finds himself in what appears to be a retirement village for secret agents that have been put out to pasture. Almost all of these people accept their fate with no resistance and just pass the time away each day by playing brain dead games like shuffleboard or backgammon, never questioning the reasons why they were sent there, but not Patrick McGoohan's character. Patrick McGoohan wakes up to find out that he no longer has a name. (His name was never mentioned in the show) He is now simply known as number 6, but as he explores his new surroundings he remains rebellious and belligerent as he tries to find out who controls the island and the weaknesses in it's perimeter restraints.

The leader of the Island is Number 2. No one ever gets to see who number 1 is. There were only 17 episodes of this show and in all of them No. 6 spends his time trying find out how he got there and how to escape. A few times he has tried to swim away but a giant white balloon comes out of the water to come after and suffocate any escapees by smothering them until the cannot breath anymore. Number 6 and everyone else are under constant surveillance at all points on the island even in their own homes. In the end by the last episode No. 6 figures out a way to escape with assistance of number 2's butler and the show goes off the air after that.

As I was writing this piece the theme songs from Patrick McGoohan's TV shows started playing in my mind. I remember one line from the theme song secret agent man. It went like this: "Secret Agent man, Secret Agent Man, they've given you a number and taken away your name." I just realized that when Patrick McGoohan worked to create the Prisoner, he created a show about a man who has precisely rejected that condition. He did not want to be known as just a number. He wanted to return to the real world to be himself again. This was another low budget TV show that went on to become a cult classic that has been re-run in many countries throughout the world. I liked it because of all the high tech gadgets that were involved.