10 Things You Might Not Know About THE PRISONER - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About THE PRISONER

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The realm of science fiction television is fraught with enigmas, but none so beguiling as the British series 'The Prisoner'. A startling blend of spy drama, psychological thriller, and abstract science fiction, 'The Prisoner', first released in 1967, continues to enthrall and perplex audiences even today. A brainchild of the multi-talented Patrick McGoohan, who also portrayed the show's central character, 'The Prisoner' is much more than a cult classic; it's a riveting exploration of personal freedom, surveillance, and individuality.

1. Centered on an unnamed British agent, referred to as Number Six, who abruptly resigns from his post, the storyline catapults into the surreal when Number Six wakes up in a beautiful yet sinister village. His identity subsumed by a number, the protagonist grapples with psychological and physical trials throughout the series' seventeen episodes, attempting to maintain his autonomy against a system hell-bent on erasing individual identities.

2. 'The Prisoner', sprung from McGoohan's dissatisfaction with conventional spy thrillers, proved to be an ambitious venture. Despite its daring departure from the norm, the series managed to captivate its contemporary audience, garnering an average of 10.5 million viewers per episode, a clear testament to its innovative approach and hypnotic narrative.

3. The origin of 'The Prisoner' is a tale worth telling. McGoohan initially envisioned the series as a compact narrative spanning seven episodes. However, the network, ITV, proposed an extension to seventeen episodes, allowing for a broader commercial prospect.

4. One of the striking features of 'The Prisoner' is its unique filming location. The dreamlike, almost otherworldly village of Portmeirion in Wales served as the backdrop for Number Six's tribulations. McGoohan himself selected the locale, drawn to its amalgamation of diverse architectural styles, which added a surreal quality to the series.

5. McGoohan's influence permeated beyond the screen, his belief in individualism strongly echoing throughout the series. A devout Catholic, McGoohan saw 'The Prisoner' as a medium to reflect the dignity and resilience of the individual against faceless bureaucracy. His personal ideologies were so interwoven with the series that he even took to writing and directing several episodes, including the mystifying series finale, 'Fall Out'.

6. 'The Prisoner' was a collective endeavor of numerous creative minds, despite McGoohan's overarching influence. George Markstein, the script editor, played a pivotal role. Initially, Markstein viewed 'The Prisoner' as a sequel to 'Danger Man', a vision that clashed with McGoohan's and led to Markstein's eventual exit from the series.

7. In a unique move, the role of Number Two, the village's leader, was played by different actors in each episode, save for a few reprisals, to accentuate the faceless and interchangeable nature of authority. Leo McKern, the first to essay the role of Number Two, remains the most recognized due to his multiple appearances.

8. In what can only be described as an inspired shift, the village's security system Rover, a white, menacing balloon, came into existence when the original mechanical sea device sank during a trial run. Thus, what was initially a calamity resulted in one of television's most iconic antagonists.

9. The influence of 'The Prisoner' transcends its original run. It has left its mark on several other series and films. For instance, the location of Portmeirion reappeared in the 'Doctor Who' episode 'The Masque of Mandragora'. Also, contemporary shows like 'Lost' and 'Westworld' bear an unmistakable trace of the narrative complexity and thematic depth of 'The Prisoner'.

10. This classic series found resonance beyond television, influencing music and literature. For instance, the British band Iron Maiden named a song after 'The Prisoner'. In 2009, a remake featuring Jim Caviezel and Sir Ian McKellen attempted to reintroduce the show to a new generation, although it struggled to recreate the original's success.

Even after over half a century, 'The Prisoner' continues to captivate with its thought-provoking narrative and audacious themes. Its enduring legacy is a testament to McGoohan's brilliance and the invincibility of the human spirit it so fervently celebrated.

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