We are in the golden anniversary year of the legendary and awesome British cult TV series, The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan’s brilliant creation debuted on British and Canadian television in 1967, and was broadcast in America on CBS beginning in June, 1968.
This week Sunday Evening Video brings you a documentary about a show that your PopCulteer first saw as a young child, and one that stuck with him for the rest of his life. The intrigue, twists, turns, and action instilled a healthy dose of skepticism, cynicism and optimism in me that is hard to explain to the uninitiated.
The Prisoner‘s mark on pop culture extends to comic books (Jack Kirby’s never-published mid-1970s adaptation will finally see print this year. See a smaple at the bottom of this post), television (The Simpsons, along with many other shows have paid tribute, and McGoohan himself reprised his role, sort of, in episodes of Columbo) and music (Iron Maiden and XTC, among many other bands have written songs about the show, and Dhani Harrison’s group, thenewno2, is named after the show’s ever-changing authority figure character). Along the way the series had a poorly-received mini-series remake in 2009 on AMC and a somewhat better-received comic book sequel in 1988 by Dean Motter and Mark Askwith.
The Prisoner only ran 17 episodes before its magnificently confusing conclusion, but the series still endures half a century later. That should be a testament to just exactly how special this program was. In the UK, a deluxe Blu Ray release came out last year to commemorate the anniversary. In America, a 2009 set, with beautiful transfers and plenty of bonus material is currently out of print and selling for big money on Amazon and eBay. Here’s hoping that the current US rights holders plan to release a more affordable set in time for the 50th anniversary of the American debut of the classic show.
In the meantime, enjoy the documentary. If you know The Prisoner, you’ll like the memories, and if you don’t, it’s a good introduction.