At first it felt like the direct TNG callbacks were a bit much, but it’s the opening episode — there’s an allowance for that kind of thing. Sets the tone. Builds a framework.
It definitely feels different. Better. Probably my favorite premiere out of all three seasons. But each of those were actually quite good before each of them fell off the rails pretty rapidly. It remains to be seen if Season 3 falls into that trap. But I get a good feeling from this. With how badly prior seasons have left me soured, I still feel something I didn’t expect: hopeful. 🤞
In the 25th Century… (oh lord, laying it on thick out of the gate)
No title sequence…?
Rainy ambient background is great with headphones in the scene with Picard talking to Laris.
Aaaand just like that Laris is off the series? Maybe she’s back at the end, too? 🤔
An EAGLEMOSS on screen with stand and everything. Okay…
Oh, wow, a whole Amazon store listing of Eaglemoss ships on display. Not sure how I feel about that. Breaks immersion a bit too much.
“The fat ones”. Geesh.
Both Picard and Riker giving speeches at Frontier Day.
So Bev gives this dire message where she’s clearly heavily injured, but let’s fuck around real casually about it at the bar. Factoring in how long it took for them to get together, hatch a plan, take the Titan in one direction, then double back, etc. It had to be at least week if not more before they even got to her. (Trek’s been known to bend time and space, so this is not nearly as damning as it might ordinarily be, but it’s still irritating.)
Fifteen minutes in and the number of obscure, statistically unlikely TNG callbacks in a row is already closing in on intolerable. (EDIT: it mellows out.)
M’talas Prime… a bit on the nose, no? I mean, naming shit after the crew is common but what’s next? Kurtzman IV? (That actually has a good ring to it…)
Sexy Titan-A flyby. I’ve long said Trek has lost that grandiose majesty, and this brings some of that back.
The score really is great, though it sometimes feels like a bit too direct of a copy/paste affair. From great source material, at least.
“Crash” LaForge. She’s got chops. She didn’t feel like stunt casting.
Picard/Riker banter is almost a bit much, but JUST on this side of fun.
Shaw’s dinner ASMR with headphones is a bit disturbing.
Yep, Shaw is a real dick. Hahah. Maybe a bit too much of one? I bet we come around on him, though, before he dies.
On snap, he’s got Locutus beef with a general anti-Borg racist streak. (“Commander Hansen” for instance.)
Picard and Janeway inspired her to “join Starfleet”? I thought she tried to get in post-Voyager but was denied. That was on THIS SHOW it was mentioned. They said even Janeway’s considerable sway at the time couldn’t do it… which is why she joined the Rangers. Bah.
A red statue. Who the fuck has a red statue, except to use for someone’s cryptic clue? 😛
Holy shit! Now we’re playing with portals. That was exceptionally different and genuinely horrifying. But I can’t imagine how someone can get to Earth, do THAT, and not immediately get stomped in orbit. We don’t know enough about it, though, so… we’ll see?
Butt to butt shuttlecraft-on-ship action.
Androids get an adrenaline rush? Oh right, we’re sweeping that whole “golem body” thing aside.
Picard made Bev a classical mix tape!
“Her son!” — no shit, Marcus.
Opening credits are at the end. An interesting choice. Some fun clues in the end-credits LCARS.
53 minute episode but felt twice that long. In a good way.
NOTE: If you’re following along on this Roddenberry adventure with me, you might have noticed that I’ve skipped over reviewing Strange New World, the third attempt at making the Dylan Hunt saga a reality. This is not an accident. It’s a terrible pilot and I’ve already given it more than enough attention by reminding people it exists.
Another prototypical Star Trek concept before it got dumped into the 80s. In this case, the inspiration for Commander Data on TNG is fairly easy to see.
Though this goes in a completely different direction, as this android is built by a mysterious genius who disappeared, sending his creation on a hunt across the world, with a ticking clock running before he explodes like a nuke.
Questor passes for human (Foxworth is lucky he didn’t have to wear gold contacts), but is less articulate than Data. Though I certainly hope his generic ‘robotic’ voice would have mellowed out a bit if this had gone to series. (They do lay narrative groundwork for it eventually easing up.)
Mike Farrell is a fine actor, but he’s not strong lead. I don’t dislike him here, but it took a while to warm up to him. It’s tough to shake “BJ Hunnicutt”, even if this is a year before he scored that role. He lacks a certain gravitas, for lack of a better description. He’s like a rice cake.
It’s a slow paced, but quite interesting romp in the same vein as other high-brow sci-fi concepts like ‘Million Dollar Man’. As good as it had the potential to be, I can sadly see why it wasn’t picked up. I’m not even sure what kind of adventures they could have had to maintain a series.
Quite good, but there’s an unrealized potential here that feels frustratingly just out of reach.
Another missed opportunity. In some alternate reality this went on for several seasons.
Not even “fully functional” was an original joke. Geesh.
He got machine gunned like Data did in the missile silo, except it went much worse for Questor.
Take a drink every time a failed Roddenberry pilot includes “male”, “female” or references anything relating to gender.
Questor Tapes succeeds where Strange New World failed: this show made the entire premise of the series THE story for the pilot episode. Where SNW treated the intro as if we’d all seen it before and just jumped right into an episode of the week. This, at least makes Questor Tapes a far superior watch standing on it’s own.
Keeping the “failed Roddenberry pilot” train going this evening…
I’m struggling as to whether I find this better or worse than it’s direct predecessor, “Genesis II“. I’m leaning towards worse, even though most folks seem to think otherwise.
The budget has clearly gone up, and there’s an overall boost in the production values. It seems to have saved some money recycling props, locations, footage, and ideas from the original. Made me a bit sad seeing the G2 sets reduced to cameos in the background of this clunker.
As a pilot, the first half of this is terrible and lazy.
It skips over the entire introduction of “Dylan Hunt” (now played by the great John Saxon) — not even showing his misfortune via montage, save for one very brief scene — and delivers the bulk of the backstory via a narrator exposition dump and “captains log” style diary recording, slipping us into a PAX mission already in-progress. It serves a means to introduce us to the ‘team’ before jumping into what could have been any ol’ episode. (In fact, it adapts a planned Genesis II script.)
The first half is a real slog despite taking so many shortcuts. Surprisingly, the second half picks up considerably. But it’s still schlocky and cant’ seem to get out from under the shadow of Star Trek’s whole feel.
Indeed, Saxon is clearly cut from the ‘Jim Kirk’ vein of hero: a too-cunning, perfect “man’s man”, almost, but not quite, overthrowing the savage, backwards evil tribe of women with his dick alone.
And holy hell, is this thing roughly 10x more horny than Genesis II — something I dinged THAT show for. But, in comparison, it’s downright wholesome. Planet Earth is clearly Roddenberry just GOING FOR IT, pressing the limits of TV sex and violence in order to appease the network gods.
I naively called Genesis II “Roddenberry Unchained”, but this is THAT cranked to eleven.
That certain camp charm that made me enjoy Genesis II is not present here. Planet Earth is well cast, but much more blunt, far less cerebral, and somehow much less fun.
You’ll never look at Dr. Pulaski the same way again.
Speaking of doctors, the guy they’re looking for, to do heart surgery on a guy back at PAX headquarters, resembles quite a bit like Chuck Huber who played Dr. McCoy in the “Star Trek Continues” fan series. (And also vaguely resembles DeForest Kelley.)
Ted Cassidy reprises his role from Genesis II as a white Native American character. It was bad enough there, at least he played the role with a bit of dignity and it wasn’t too much. It wasn’t so blatantly stereotypical as it is here. Here, it’s just… really overstepping good taste.
This whole remake feels like it’s IQ dropped a good 50-75 points from Genesis II.
You’ll never see another piece of media use the word “dink” so many times.
Keep an eye out for what’s clearly an early prototype for the Klingon ridge make-up that would make it’s way into Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This is the real delight of watching these — seeing Roddenberry recycle all kinds of shit, and even the origins of things.
Whoo boy, this was certainly “Roddenberry Unchained”.
You know, I kind of loved it?
The pitch: like so many other similar stories, smarty man from the past is frozen in time and wakes up in the future — this time around it’s 150 years. Upon being woken, the two major factions recognize his value as someone who has knowledge of how to fix things, like nuclear power plants, and just what all these “k-cup” things are. One side tricks him into helping, but they’re really the bad guys. The good guys kind of suck, too, in a weird science/near-religious mish-mash kind of way, but one group doesn’t have pain sticks, nukes, and slaves, so our hero reluctantly makes his choice by the end.
It was kind of awful, and needlessly horny (as was tradition), but… man, there’s just this weird charm to it that only something ambitious, but produced on a low budget in the 1970s can make work.
The cast is mostly good, with Mariette Hartley, especially, standing out among them.
There’s much of the original 1966 Star Trek DNA strewn about this pilot-cum-TV-movie, including some VFX tricks with the elevator, the wardrobe and cinematography, those phony ‘caverns’, musical stylings, a small Majel Barrett role, the hand-to-hand combat stunts, etc.
Pretty much what I was hoping for when I’d first heard about this.
Again, I had fun with it, riding the line right down the center of “fun to riff on” and “genuinely enjoying it”.
I’ve heard this is the BAD version of this, and the seemingly traditional network order to later remake it “less cerebral, and more action-oriented” is the superior one.
Sounds like a win-win for me.
– This feels like the missing link between the original “Star Trek” and “ST: The Motion Picture” in terms of technical evolution. In reality there were only 3-4 years between this and Star Trek‘s third season finale. Yet it feels very much like a 1970s production. Maybe what Star Trek might have looked like if they had a sliiiightly larger budget.
– Lurch plays a “white Comanche Warrior”.
– “Decepticons” was a name invented for a kids TV series. What’s the “Tyranians” excuse, Gene?
– After detonating a fucking NUKE over the Tyrianian city: “you didn’t take any lives did you?” 👉🥺👈
Admittedly, I was not on board with Wednesday when I saw the trailer for it.
I was still licking my wounds from the godawful CGI movie, so the trailer for this series was rubbing up against that recent memory, unfavorably.
Even after giving the initial episode a chance, being clouded by all that, it wasn’t quite working for me. Something felt off, and at that point, any hair out of place was going to be blown out of proportion. However, there was still a spark of something there, so I kept going.
That cloud quickly vanished by the second episode.
And I’m thrilled things went that way — not only has Wednesday been a complete joy in it’s own right, but it’s really expanded my perception of what The Addams Family CAN be. And that’s one hell of a lift for an often cynical, long-time die-hard fan like me. 🙂
Some quick observations:
The Addams feel organic and real in this world. (More on that later.)
Thing was just incredible. Burton’s disembodied hand from the 1990s films immediately became the de facto version of the character, superseding the original, more limited “arm in a box” version from the 1960s. And here, more than ever, it’s obvious this was the best way to go with him. It’s absolutely freakish how emotive and charming he is in this.
It’s impressive that they’ve been able to keep all the Nevermore threads feeling serviced, full of character development, and just generally fulfilling. And most importantly, they never feel like they take away from the main story thread.
That said, in retrospect I’m realizing some of them didn’t really go anywhere. For example, the siren Bianca is set up as a rival for Wednesday. At least, initially. And she serves that role quite well. As the show progresses, they pull back on that bit and we see she has her own problems, in the form of her cult-leader mother. This seems like it’s going to pay off later in the series but it never does.
The cast is just incredible. Multiple times during this series, I thought to myself that every kid in this series is going on to do great things. Especially Jenna Ortega and Emma Myers, who have some insane chemistry together. Emma’s “Enid” is like the “anti-Wednesday”, but in a complementary, yin/yang completing each other kind of way. A real delight.
I feel it necessary to call out how great the show looked. It didn’t overdo it with the color grading, which is usually what ruins a lot of these modern shows for me. There was a great deal of beauty in this very dreary-focused series. Not quite Better Call Saul levels of “every frame a painting”, but there was clearly a lot of effort put into the cinematography here, and I definitely noticed!
Some criticisms I’ve encountered so far are worth examining:
Why was Wednesday attending Nevermore when she had no powers to speak of, since the ‘visions’ were her secret?
Nevermore was more about being outcasts, which admittedly seemed to be more focused on ‘kids with monster powers’. Neither of which Gomez nor Morticia had at the time when they attended, nor in contemporary times. But an argument could be made that back in the 1990s, attendance was more diverse. And then as time went on, the school’s reputation attracted more monster-focused applicants. Wednesday, being the child of a 90s-era alumnus, was technically welcome, but would be a victim of the era — an outcast among outcasts. (Which she certainly was.)
Many Addams Family interpretations, stepping beyond the simpler gag-focused 1960s sitcom and comic strip premise, have a problem where once you start injecting real crises into the plot, the concept breaks down. “I thought murder was good? Bad is good, right?”
Real stakes end up being at odds with their natural, comedic portrayal. Wednesday experiences this problem as well. At least, initially. But as the show progresses, and we start to see Wednesday break down her barriers a bit (a VERY little bit), it’s clear that while she definitely has the ultimate dark, macabre, loner streak — she’s an Addams after all — it’s also a bit of a front. At least in this version of the character. There’s a middle-ground deep inside her, closer to her parents. Somewhere in there. Thankfully, Wednesday’s glacial character growth feels believable. She’s complex.
Indeed, the Addams clan themselves ultimately end up being more more grounded in general, by necessity of this longer-form series, without losing any their kooky charm.
And yes, admittedly, Wednesday is a mediocre, if incredibly intimidating detective. She not only falsely accused several people of being behind the murders, but she didn’t even really ‘solve’ the mystery until she thought it was over, received a spoiler-filled vision with the answer, and the Hyde just up and confessed in the police station.
The ‘visions’, in retrospect, kind of sucked. They felt more like a writer’s crutch to move the plot along, rather than a skill Wednesday could learn to wield.
Which is just as well. The core mystery wasn’t really the most compelling part of the show. It was more the interactions with Wednesday and the people of Jericho. So this is a fair point.
Finally, Crackstone’s resurrection, in the finale, is tougher to explain. I suspect his radical shift from firebrand puritan willing to torch an entire barn full of ‘outcasts’, and into being a magic-wielding supernatural being is a side effect of being dead for hundreds of years, existing in hell (presumably, or whatever afterlife), and the preternatural manner in which he was resurrected. But I don’t recall anything about that being touched on in the story, so… yeah, it’s just weird.
Almost as weird as Goody being an Addams and not a Frump, since she’s from Morticia’s side. 😉
These are all minor things — it was so much fun that even the criticisms that have some merit aren’t show-stoppers by any stretch.
One MAJOR nitpick though… a real problem…
Not enough Fester! A terrific tribute to Jackie Coogan’s version of the character while being his own thing. Leaps and bounds better than Christopher Lloyd’s bizarrely gravely-voiced evergreen victim in both of Burton’s prior films.
I would never in a million years considered Fred Armisen as a good choice for the role, but now I can’t imagine him NOT playing him. He’s genuinely a real treat who’s presence is far too fleeting.
Does Prodigy have the best, strongest first season of Star Trek since the original series?
I’m not sure… but it’s either that or Strange New Worlds.
But frankly, I’m edging closer towards Prodigy. They’re BOTH great, don’t misread me, but it feels like Prodigy had a much bigger narrative hill to climb.
They successfully built, from scratch, wholly original characters in a brand new situation. And it was aimed at a new, younger audience who might be unfamiliar with Star Trek while still making it engaging for both new and old fans.
One big example: I bloody HATED Dal for several episodes. Generic, childish, obnoxious teenager archetype. But as the series progresses you can actually feel a very natural maturation that doesn’t feel forced. It feels earned. Same goes for the rest of the cast.
They coordinated a net trap while talking to the sea devil for a second? I mean, they do show them in the background ever so briefly, so… alright.
These things are SUPER silly looking. Even for Doctor Who. Modern Who, at least.
Not only are they silly looking, but they… don’t move their lips, and do like Wheeljack does where some shit just glows and it represents them ‘talking’. What a bizarre throwback of a design.
Oh, okay, okay, I had to pause and go look. These can’t look THIS bad by accident. And sure enough, I was unfamiliar with Pertwee’s Third Doctor adventure, quite literally “The Sea Devils”. Alright. Fine.
Sure, let’s abandon Dan centuries away in this VERY TRUSTABLE time machine that literally got pulled off course by a stray geomagnetic anomaly. 😉
Oof, some bad stunt man work when that guy gets tossed over the the ship. You can see the actor grab the edge and pull himself over. Not quite Luke Skywalker on Jabba’s barge, but geesh. 😉
Steven King burn outta nowhere. Damn.
WHOA, what was up with that time vortex animation? That was cool. Looked like almost caves of time. That was neat.
Not really into the whole relationship thing they’re trying to pull with Yaz. I wasn’t crazy when they tried to do it with Amy, either. (Even if I do love me some Karen Gillan.) Just doesn’t feel right. The Doctor/Rose stuff was pretty great, though. But that just clicked with the right combination of actors and writing. Natural chemistry after a looong time together, I think? Just haven’t felt anything like that on-screen since then.
Pullin’ out some nice visuals in this ep.
Who doesn’t keep an ear in a box?
We’re on a surprisingly long bit of exposition once we get underwater.
A gem with infinite powers, you say? An Infinity Stone, you might say?
What about the TARDIS? I guess we’re going BACK on that ship at some point…
Okay, it’s the Soul Gem. (Soul was orange, right? Or was it yellow?)
Told you we’d be back on it. But… HOW?
The Doctor is doing a LOT of heavy lifting on the exposition, even for this show.
“Don’t let the swords touch your skin.” — advice you can use even in real life.
“Is it always like this at sea?” — how awkward.
Dan just slaughtered five sea-pugs at once after we got done chastising the other guy for killing one dude.
“Yeah! Hopefully. Probably. Definitely. One of those.” — my favorite kind of Doctor dialogue. 🙂
Despite being a surprisingly simplistic story, it still feels like this whole “will they won’t they” nonsense is something we don’t have time for. But I’m betting it’s planting seeds for the next episode.
Ah, I see.
Aaaaaaaaaahahaha. Thank god THIS guy is with us to pop in out of nowhere and save the day. 🤣 He was kept alive specifically so the Doctor didn’t have to do the Heroic Sacrifice thing. Just pops into the shot like the Kool Aid Man and takes the cable. No argument from the other two.
Hey, an ocean view without a dramatic sunrise/sunset — how quaint.
I think “Our Flag Means Death” has made me less judgmental of pirate ship scenes taking place on a set.
“I can’t fix myself…” — shit, I thought this was like an “I’m dying” thing, knowing this is her last couple eps of the series.
The Doctor’s reasons for not getting “fixed” to someone is the same reason I wouldn’t choose to have a pet again. (Probably.) And that’s kind of what it would be like for a time lord and a human, honestly. Except their “pets” last at best 80 years, not including the 15-20 years before they’d meet them.
Next ep looks crazy. Could do without the Master, though. I really don’t like this Doctor’s version of The Master. The guy is WAY too vicious and cartoonishly unhinged for my tastes.
I’m always interested in seeing how they handle the regeneration process, though. Smith to Capaldi was jarring and sudden.
Not fantastic, but not terrible. Inoffensive is a good word. Shame she’s leaving; she finally feels ‘comfortable’ at this this point.
I’ve mentioned this show before, but I figured I’d tackle the whole series here in this one post.
Let me tell you: The Prisoner is a truly incredible show. Don’t sleep on it. In fact, consider it required viewing.
It’s a thorough mind-fuck of a war between unstoppable forces and the immovable object. It’s the grand-daddy of many a subsequent TV show’s mysteries, most notably there’s an obvious influence on LOST. At least to me. Though that show went down a different path, the basic kernel of mystery and raw “is this really happening” fuckery is unmistakable to me.
A quick refresher: our protagonist is an ex-spook who angrily shows up one day and and retires from the job with a tea-cup smashing slam of his fist on the desk.
His head full of secrets, valuable to both ‘sides’, he’s gassed in his own home and wakes up in The Village — a small microcosm of a perfect community where people are issued numbers instead of using their names. Escape is made nigh impossible, enforced by a gang of thugs and a bizarre (sentient…?) white ball that smothers people to death.
The people running The Village, headed by the ever-changing form of No.2, just want to know: why did you resign?
No.6, as he’s labelled, not knowing which side his captors are on, refuses to answer the question. He’s valuable to whoever is running the show, so they’ll do everything short of physical torture to try and break him. The various ways in which they attempt to pry this information from him in each episode is quite impressive, and imaginative. And often downright cruel.
I’ll include a brief synopsis (via Wikipedia) as a refresher and talk a bit about each one.
Oh, and uh, it goes without saying but: _spoilers._
And these were watched in the order Shout Factory put them in. I recognize and even noticed that some episodes feel out of order — Dance of the Dead, most notably, suggests No.6 has ‘just arrived’.
There’s a recommended fan-authored viewing order that, in retrospect, I might have followed. But what’s done is done…
…about half way through the series run I started keeping realtime observations and commentary as I watched each episode. I circled back afterward and made some quick notes on a speedy rewatch of the first six, but they’re nowhere near as detailed.
Ep. 1 – Arrival
After waking up in the Village and discovering his captivity there, No.6 encounters a friend from the outside who may have a possible escape.
They really pull out all the stops for the first episode — the sheer wall to wall insanity at times is impressive. The series doesn’t quite put the pedal down quite like it does here, going forward, but that’s a good thing.
If you watch this and enjoy it, yeah, it’s safe to say you’ll be all set for the rest of the series.
Quick Re-watch Observations
BLACK BADGE ALERT:
The very first person we meet, a lady at the local cafe, is wearing a black badge. (124? 104?)
A taxi driver later has a black badge as well.
The girl in the pink bikini that slides by No.6 by the bridge has one.
Places listed in the directory, in order of listing:
Funny how good this episode looks compared to later eps. Much more on-location, versus stages with phony recreations of the location set.
No.6’s taxi trip costs “2 units”.
The map is labelled “Your Village”, versus “The Village” as we usually refer to it.
No.6’s time of birth: 4:31am, 1928-03-19.
Nobody asks if ROVER is okay. 🙁
The hot pink room looks like an album cover.
The doctor says No.6’s clothes have been burned and doesn’t offer a reason why. (Which either contradicts the finale, or is a lie.)
A guy at the end of the hallway is bald, staring at what appears to be a tiny, ping-pong ball sized Rover, while spouting gibberish. (“Oh, he’s coming along nicely!”)
We never do see the “electro-pass” again.
I enjoy that they give him this elaborate phony escape opportunity just to prove how futile it is to even try.
“We’re all pawns, m’dear!”
Ep 2 – The Chimes of Big Ben
A new prisoner, Nadia, may have information about the Village that makes an escape attempt possible.
You might think that it’s a bit early in the run to have him escape all the way back home, being only the second episode. But I choose to see it as a show of power: look at how convincing a fake they can create. How far you think you’ve gotten — yet every single step along the journey was artificial.
But then there’s the whole thing where the series is probably being shown out of order, but let’s take the wins where we can.
Quick Re-watch Observations
“Escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it… and you with it.”
I love how shocked No.2 is when No.6 puts sugar in his drink.
Not only is Leo McKern the best No.2, but he ends up part of the finale as well. Great choice.
Genuine non-alcoholic whiskey: 24 work units. Genuine non-alcoholic vodka: 16 work units.
Direct TV range: 2 miles. After that? Radar.
We see three Rovers in this episode at once — one large one, and two small ones helping drag the escaping woman back.
The art exhibition with all the Leo McKern art is amazing.
A Rover gets sniped at from shore, and this seemingly deters it. Or it’s just part of the act.
No.6 when asked where The Village is replies: “Lithuania, on the Baltic, 30 miles from the Polish border”.
“Why DID you resign?”“It was a matter of conscience!”, later he begins to explain “…for a very long time…”
Ep 3 – A. B. and C.
A desperate No.2 manipulates No.6’s dreams to discover where his loyalties lie.
An interesting exploration using “what would No.6 have done” to figure out his loyalties. Fun watching No.2 sweat in fear of the big red phone, too.
Quick Re-watch Observations
My second favorite No.2, Colin Gordon!
“A” looks a hell of a lot like Pedro Pascal.
The Feb 10th “The Tally Ho” headline reads, “Is No.2 Fit For Future Term?”
“B”‘s mouth is HUGE. Like Steven Tyler.
“Be seeing you!”“NO! I’ll be seeing YOU.”
Ep 4 – Free for All
Presented with the opportunity, No.6 runs for election to the post of No.2.
This isn’t the weakest episode of the series, but for some reason I found myself struggling to pay attention. Just a mind-fuck to screw with him. What else is new?
Quick Re-watch Observations
BLACK BADGE WATCH:
Several people in the election crowd in town can be seen wearing them in the background.
The serving girl has a black badge later in the episode. (No.265)
The thugs that rise out of the floor to tackle No.6 have them.
No.2 mentions No.6 is “new here”, suggesting this is an earlier episode.
The newspaper turns every “no comment” into a full on response. The paper’s headline even reads “No.6 Speaks His Mind”.
Random boat fight!
This No.2 says “to hell with The Village” when asked if he doesn’t approve.
She’s using the Three Stooges technique: “Push Buttons!”
Just a bunch of guys in cave, wearing sunglasses, sitting in a circle around Rover. Totally normal.
“Give my regards to the homeland.” – a totally normal thing for someone to say.
Ep 5 – The Schizoid Man
No.2 replaces No.6 with an identical duplicate (played by McGoohan) to weaken the real Six’s sense of identity.
This was so damned good. There was even a moment or two where even I was questioning the real No.6’s authenticity. But what’s really great is that they go the extra mile in the last third of the story to turn The Village’s plan to break him, into an escape attempt. If No.6 didn’t botch a bit of personal information, he might have genuinely escaped. (Well… I thought that way until “Many Happy Returns”, at least.)
Quick Re-watch Observations
Whoa, one of the very few people on the show who isn’t white!
Clever using the thumbnail bruise to sus out the scam.
The password is “gemini”.
Some of the split-screen here is pretty good. Especially for the era.
I can’t believe they moved his fucking mole.
This No.2 is more like a game show host.
Making the little guy give you a massage, dude? Weird.
It always looks like Rover is humping people to death.
No.6 pushes it way too hard in his “Curtis” disguise. He fucks up. He could have been scot-free.
Next time you see a calendar so obviously out in the open like that, you let me know.
Ep 6 – The General
An important prisoner’s new speed-teaching machine can be used to indoctrinate everyone into believing the same thing, posing perhaps the greatest threat to No.6’s independence.
A classic Trek story: secret hidden intelligence turns out to be a computer. Damned well-done story, though. Three years of education in 3 minutes! I enjoyed it despite not just borrowing a Trek “computer god” cliche but also defeating it with the usual “tainted data input” that causes the machine to eat itself.
After waking to find the Village deserted, No.6 returns to England, but he does not know whom he can trust there.
After seeing how far No.6 got in The Chimes of Big Ben you’d be forgiven for spending most of the episode waiting for the other shoe to drop. The journey he takes, making a raft, getting picked up by gun-runners, and stowing away in a truck on the way to England makes for an impressive episode, with very little dialogue for half the episode.
What’s interesting here is that he really DID escape, and he was able to get information about The Village to his associates. Even locating it somewhere off the coast of Morocco before being cruelly jettisoned back into The Village by the end.
This one was a delight and it really kept me guessing. But what’s interesting here is that No.6 did make contact, he did reveal what happened to himself, he did give them a general idea of where he was being kept, and they weren’t in on it. And none of that was undone or otherwise subverted by the end. An interesting choice.
In theory, in light of this, a rescue mission should not out of the question. Though that’s never alluded to during the episode.
BLACK BADGE WATCH: No.2 wears a rare black badge.
Ep 8 – Dance of the Dead
No.6 tries to save an old friend who is headed for destruction at the hands of the Village.
Maybe the worst episode so far? Only the pure grit of Mary Morris’ performance as this installment’s No.2 keeps this one interesting. She’s a bit over the top at times, especially looking into the camera cackling madly before the credits roll. But still, she’s quite memorable.
It’s recommended that this be seen as the second episode of the series, and the events and dialog that go with it, seem to concur. The episode has elements that either got dropped or at least not explicitly stated before (No.6 being assigned an ‘observer’ for example).
The episode seems more of a showcase for insanity, and an attempt at cementing No.6’s fate.
BLACK BADGE WATCH: No.240 wears a rare black badge.
Ep 9 – Checkmate
No.6 thinks he has a means to tell the prisoners from the wardens.
Another one that feels like an early episode. Probably even right after Dance of the Dead. More “getting to know” the island. Prisoners vs guardians.
A weak escape attempt considering Six SURELY must know even stepping foot on British soil doesn’t mean he’ll actually have escaped. Actually escaping from The Village doesn’t mean you’re free.
But it’s hard to be fair about the show’s intentions considering the actual order of them is up for interpretation. There’s a low-level of continuity, but even that’s scrambled a bit.
Mediocre episode, but the “Battle Chess” theme in the first quarter is fun.
No.2 has quite a bit of makeup on. He also engages in martial arts. Alone.
BLACK BADGE WATCH: opposing ‘human chess’ player had one, and so did the gardener who 6 deduces is a ‘guardian’.
The Village is certainly at no loss for caucasians. Makes dialog like “You have to learn to distinguish between the blacks and the whites” a bit ominous.
The ship at the end is the SAME BOAT set that the “gun runners” had in Many Happy Returns; even some of the same fighting moves and locations are reused. Cut footage pressed into service?
Ep 10 – Hammer into Anvil
No.6 takes revenge on a sadistic No.2 for the death of another prisoner.
Yet again, this one feels like an early episode…. though the plot could easily have made for a fine penultimate episode. No.6 turns the tables on the new No.2, stoking his paranoid tendencies, making him afraid of everyone around him until he finally breaks, calling in for a new No.2 to replace himself. That’s crazy.
I wasn’t sure about this No.2 — he was intense out of the gate, and physical, actually striking No.6. Something we’ve never seen before. 2’s are usually hands-off masterminds kind of characters. But seeing him slowly lose his grip and spiral out of control was incredible.
This No.2 is way too intense. He even physically strikes No.6. The guy ends up unhinged in a way I’ve never seen a No.2 before. We’ve never seen a No.2’s authority upended so thoroughly, either. Totally played.
No.6 spends 2 units on the “Tally Ho” newspaper.
Nine words in the classifieds is 3 units.
A cuckoo clock costs 42 units.
BLACK BADGE ALERT:
The store keep wears a black 112 badge.
The guy in yellow and the tuba player both clearly sport black badges.
The band master also has one (252?)
No.6’s note about No.2’s instability is signed by him as “D.6.”
Funny how the automatic doors seem to have an instinct about when to open or close.
The Xerox 660 returns! Last seen in The General.
This is great, turning the tables on No.2 and his paranoia.
They’re doing personalized messages on The Village’s in-house radio station? From inside their operations center?
No.113 doesn’t exist. She died a month ago.
20, 60, 40, 47, 67, 81, 91, 80
Tracking a pigeon by radar!
Wow, we just skipped right over actually seeing the “beam” fire.
Ep 11 – It’s Your Funeral
To save the Village from calamitous consequences, No.6 must intervene in a Village power struggle and prevent the assassination of the retiring No.2 by his successor.
Definitely one of the weaker entries. An interesting premise, pitting one No.2 against another, but it struggles to keep it interesting. It even devotes over 3 minutes to a phony sport supposedly invented by Patrick McGoohan himself.
BLACK BADGE ALERT:
Immediately get our first black badge within seconds of the titles: 50.
“Plan Division Q” guy in pink jacket has a black 100 badge.
We see the Kosho… set… again. Though this feels like the first time we’re seeing it — another out-of-order mixup? And wow, the scene just kind of goes on for a while… 17:30 to 20:45… hashtag filler.
This basically addresses why No.6 doesn’t just resort to violence when he’s had the opportunity.
This may be my least favorite No.2. He looks like some eccentric, B-grade Arch Hall Jr., which wouldn’t matter so much if he wasn’t just very so boring. The whole episode just has this weird drag to it.
Ep 12 – A Change of Mind
No.2 stirs the Village to ostracize No.6, and then takes even more drastic measures to cure Six’s “unmutuality”.
Another episode where the tables are turned on the current No.2. It feels like a bit of a cop-out that they didn’t actually do the full “social conversion” on him, but considering it’s a weekly TV series, we can’t do TOO much harm to our protag.
We get a good look at the wilderness gym No.6 created for himself; while it was seen in prior episodes in this particular viewing order, the dialog suggests this is it’s debut.
The new No.2 is a sexist and a glutton. Not my least favorite, but nearing the bottom. Ask me again later; I may change my mind.
Oh man, No.6 is LOVING this… disharmoniousness. 😉
BLACK BADGE ALERT:
#62, undergoing “aversion therapy” sports a black badge.
Speaking of the “aversion therapy” room, it appears the contents of the room aren’t hot pink as it seemed Arrival, just the circular glass in the window.
These people are absolutely mindless monsters. I think some of the might have been voters in the US in 2016. 🤔
On one hand, it’s a bit silly that No.6 can pull a skill like hypnotism out of his ass, but we don’t really know WHAT he was into before he resigned, so I guess anything is fair play.
There are some VERY obvious stages with fake backgrounds here, but they look pretty good. Not too distracting.
“The butcher with the sharpest knife, has the warmest heart.” — egad.
Ep 13 – Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling
Deprived of his memory and placed in another man’s body, No.6 travels back to England to seek a missing scientist. Nigel Stock portrays Six for most of this episode.
One of the more daring, fantastical sci-fi plots, the Wikipedia summary spells it all out. An interesting premise, with a different actor playing No.6 for the entire episode.
Another story where No.6 is literally back home on British soil, yet he’s not really free. We get a peek into some of his personal details, too.
This might be my second or third favorite post-Arrival episode, but by far the least interesting No.2, existing only to get hornswoggled in the end by an elderly white man.
Whoa, this one starts out with a brief scene at the start. And the title sequence doesn’t include the usual threats from the episode’s No.2. This is unprecedented. 😀
Also, this episode was not uploaded in HD. 😐
Nice toupee, No.2.
No.6 just pacing back and forth alone in his room.
Oh shit, just straight up bringing in the MPs to drag him in. No agency for No.6 today.
Reminds me of the transporter machine that Dr. Kleiner had in HL2. (“What cat…?”)
We get a look at what a “The Prisoner” FPS would be like.
Whoa, flashbacks from prior episodes. That’ll fit well into anyone’s ‘recommended viewing’ guide. Actually seeing scenes we haven’t seen yet in the current viewing order.
It’s been a year.
His car has his theme music, unmistakable who’s driving.
Holy shit, they’ve recreated the intro with the body swap. That’s amazing.
No.6’s code names: in France, “Duval”. In Germany, “Schmidt”. But you’d best know him as “Z.M.73”.
His bosses code is P.R.12.
This is neat; we’re hearing No.6’s voice as he walks around in this new body.
She’s just cool with believing he’s mind-swapped, eh? I mean I saw the scene, but it still seems difficult to believe.
He’s taking a blue screen tour of Europe!
I was going to criticize No.6 for driving around in his signature car, but they have a tracking device on him anyway. (But he does’t know that yet…)
Big assumption on No.6’s part that his current host body could fight as good as he does.
No.2’s actor slightly flubbed his line and they kept it in.
Oooh, I bet I know how this will end. Obviously No.6 is restored, but the doctor’s mind will go into the one he was inhabiting the whole episode. That’s how he’ll escape.
I was right. But not disappointed. It’s a great ending.
But also, they had EVERY opportunity to grab the Colonel before he got on the chopper. Ordinarily they control every inch of the universe around The Village, but they can’t radio the chopper to return? What the fuck? 😀
Ep 14 – Living in Harmony
In an Old West setting, a lawman who resigned is trapped in a town called Harmony where the Judge wants him to be the new sheriff – by hook or by crook.
This one goes right off the rails immediately. If you didn’t know the actor and the typeface on the episode title and minimal credits, you’d never know this was an episode of The Prisoner and just assume it was some random western.
An interesting premise: kind of a microcosm of the entire series, but in Western form. Unfortunately the actual plot is so thin that it has trouble filling the hour without long drawn out stretches of scenes, and all the fist-fights allowed by law. But when you get down to it, this is basically The Girl In Lover’s Lane crossed with vaguest suggestion of The Prisoner, Westworld, and every other generic western.
The ending takes a twist, but with more of an unsatisfying “What the fuck was THAT?” whimper, rather than a real doozy of an angle.
Anyway, I bet if I looked we could find some other shows around the same time using the same Western sets. They’re elaborate, damned good looking TV sets. I can’t believe they’d have been erected just for one novelty episode… probably just heard of the opportunity and slapped together a quick script to take advantage of them. If not, it sure feels like it.
Sigh. Well, nobody can accuse The Prisoner of not having a large variety of settings to keep things fresh. It just doesn’t always work.
Another episode with an intro before the opening titles.
No.6 in Westworld!
The traditional pre-titles cowboy fistfight.
“I turned in my badge and my gun.” “For what reasons?” Aaaah, I get where this is goin’. Alright.
Christ this is a slog.
She rescues him from jail. He’ll rescue her from jail. Just an endless cycle.
I had to put this on at 2x in some spots. It’s just drags on so, so, so, so, much.
“I agreed to wear the badge, but not the gun.”
OH MY GOD THIS ISN’T EVEN HALF OVER. It’s just more fist fights, too.
I feel like “The Kid” could be played better by Jack Elam.
“I knew it wouldn’t work!” — lawwwl
Holy shit, I didn’t expect that ending!
Wait, she’s DEAD?
Holy shit, is everyone on drugs?!
Ep 15 – The Girl Who Was Death
No.6 avoids the assassination attempts of a beautiful woman while foiling the plots of her megalomaniac father.
This one is… I can’t help but describe it as a drug-fueled over-indulgence. Like a 50 minute long music video.
It just hits the ground running and forces you to piece together things as it goes along. Except none of that matters, since none of this happened because it’s stories he invented for children…?!
Ambitious… The Prisoner certainly takes some big swings, and it usually hits it out of the park. Being that this and Living in Harmony were among the final episodes filmed, it might admittedly be premature to think maybe it’s best there wasn’t a second season. This just feels like desperation to do something different.
Up until the last quarter I was actually enjoying the inventiveness and creativity put into the whole thing. I LOVE the ‘poisoned’ shot glass and the creative use of the rear projection screen during the driving sequence, for instance.
But once it gets to the Napoleon stuff, and the reveal at the end… eeh.
This was like one of those episodes of Bob’s Burgers where the kids all tell different stories, and that’s the WHOLE episode. Same idea. More or less.
Back to a proper intro.
They didn’t show us the No.2. And it’s using the generic voice many of these use. Hmm.
Oh, No.6 is back home again. …?!
Bangin’ tunes at the record shop.
Doing some traditional spy shit. Another drug-induced fantasy?
YOU HAVE JUST BEEN POISONED. That is some fantastic merch.
No.6 has just said “fuck it” and is getting wasted on everything ever made.
Now he’s shifted into a Sherlock Holmes persona. This is clearly some mental trip at this point.
That’s not Sherlock Holmes, that’s Sir Digby Chicken Caesar!
This is a really amazing, ambitious episode. A real cracker of a mind-fuck, even if nothing other than that is going on.
Did… did they just recycle the Western set from Living in Harmony?
Sure, just waste that ammo, 6.
VERY clever cyanide gas escape.
This is structured so weirdly. Each commercial break is a flip of the page to some new fantasy.
Oh horseshit, McGoohan is NOT singing. 😆
This is descending into Batman ’66 levels of hijinx. Not in a good way.
If you like hot stuffing files into a bag action, boy do we have several minutes for YOU.
HOLY SHIT that whole lighthouse model exploded.
You are fucking kidding me with this ending. I… don’t know what to say about that.
Ep 16 – Once Upon a Time
No.2 subjects No.6 to “Degree Absolute”, a desperate, last-ditch effort to subdue him – an ordeal that will not end until it breaks one of them.
Hooooooly shit. Was this the Infinity War to the series finale’s Endgame? This was crazy intense. I mean, wow. These two just going off into a bizarro psychological showdown. A lot of screaming. This feels like an episode that if they knew about it, they’d never have given these guys money to make this series. And I love it.
It’s him! He’s back! Leo McKern is a favorite.
No.6 is doing his pace-eating again.
Getting a replay of the series up to this point on the projector. The good parts, at least.
This is sounding serious.
Gettin’ weird again.
“Want to go walkies?” — a) that’s hilarious, and b) I thought that was a modern expression. Clearly not.
This is a whole weird scene, man.
This episode is just full of iconic imagery.
“I’m beginning to like him.”
There’s an amazing amount of shouting in this episode.
This almost feels like an early Q episode of TNG in some ways.
The episode’s freaky nature and non-stop WTF’s-a-minute makes even The Girl Who Was Death look pedestrian by comparison.
A really special episode. These two are acting their asses off. A real powerhouse.
Taking him to No.1?! NEXT WEEK?!!
Ep 17 – Fall Out
No.6 encounters the forces in charge of The Village, but can he finally escape?
You know that last week of school before Summer where you’re obviously done with school, and the teachers stop trying, and it just devolves into skipping classes and generally screwing around, getting away with anything until the bus comes at the end of the day?
That’s the series finale of The Prisoner. It decomposes into a crazy, unhinged, strange, abstract art piece.
I don’t know if it was good television, but it was one hell of a show.
And it conclusively ended.
With some minor asterisks.
It’s a shame that it spiraled out like this. A large part of really appeals about the show’s basic premise was that it was the usual “out there” supers-spy stuff, but it was grounded. More or less. Mind swapping machines notwithstanding. Instead of an ending that suits that ‘groundedness’, it quite literally takes off into orbit.
Frankly, I’d rather have had it be open-ended without a conclusion (which I’d feared), than go out the way it did.
Bit of a monkey’s paw wish seeing a proper finale, I suppose.
Hell of a ride, though. 🥃
EDIT: This was apparently a rocky, last minute scramble to assemble a finale. It’s kind of impressively weird in it’s own right given those conditions. Supposedly McGoohan had to “go into hiding in the mountains for two weeks, until things calmed down”. I kind of believe that. 😉
This is clearly a part 2 to last week’s Once Upon a Time. We get a (very lengthy) recap of it here at the opening, for the first time ever.
Abbreviated intro titles. Very different. I’ve never noticed them give credit to The Hotel Portmeirion before. (That’s the real-life location that played the part of The Village.)
Written and Directed by Patrick McGoohan
Giving him his old suit back?!
Loooove, looove, loooove…. wow, they got the real song. Must have blew a chunk of the budget on that.
This is like a Bond villain’s basement.
This just got REAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL freaky.
Oh no, it’s the psychotic kid from the Western episode. (No.48)
Oh shit, the barrister is the No.2 from that, too. I think.
This just feels like McGoohan taking a break while everyone else just freaks out around him.
Is the computer with the “1” on it No.1? Is this like The General? I hope not.
This is just off the rails stream-of-consciousness improv horseshit. What in the absolute hell.
It’s tedious. With bizarrely licesned music.
Yeah, I get it, you’re random. For fucks sake.
So I guess the idea is to make No.6 “the man” and presenting him with rebellious stand-ins?
Very clear commercial breaks, I’m noticing.
Oh god, No.2 with a haircut is a terrible sight. What a shame.
Like many of us, I have a whole backlog of TV and movies that I’ll watch “some day”. Having grown tired of this, over the last year or so I’ve been making an effort to scratch some of these names off the list.
One of the oldest entries on that list is 1967’s “The Prisoner“.
Well, turns out Shout Factoryposted the entire series — in HD, no less — over on YouTube, free with (easily blocked) ads.
I finally dipped my toe in with Episode 1, and well, the rest is history. The Prisoner is way, way, WAY ahead of it’s time. I thoroughly recommend it. It’s a real mind-fuck at times (especially in that first episode). It’s easy to see the influence it’s had on other shows (like LOST, for instance) in the decades that have followed it’s airing.
But this isn’t a series review — I’ve stopped at Episode 6, The General because I noticed something that would be fun to note and archive.
The episode (at least as far as I’ve gotten) concerns a visiting professor who’s seemingly developed a technique to teach students 3 years worth of education in 3 minutes. A test of the technique works quite well on the citizens of ‘The Village’ and our protagonist, Number 6. But not everything is as it seems, naturally.
Anyway, the professor is not a willing participant in this. In fact, he’s seen trying to escape from The Village at the opening of the episode, causing a mad chase to ensue, dragging him back in time for his ‘lecture’.
In the scene I paused on, the professor is urgently authoring some typewritten notes in his room. A couple Village scientists burst in, and drag him away. Meanwhile, another scientist, quite pleased with the current results, begins feeding the documents into a machine (the prop seems to be a Xerox 660 desktop copier with the name plate altered).
While I can’t vouch for the detail present in the original airing, this HD version of the series renders the text VERY visible, if upside-down.
So let’s see what he was writing!
- 2 -
a person washing up during the d??es and Sunday morning ?nd a cleaner
working all day Saturday and Sunday morning.
Secretary reported that 52 17/6d seats @ 12/6d each had been booked for
the Cinerama production "Grand Prix" on Wednesday 5th April. Coach has
also been booked.
Alf Hunter[?] has asked for twelve pairs of football shorts. As some of
the present white shorts are missing he also asked if it would be
possible for the new ones to be old gold because he did not know of any
local team with that colour, then perhaps players would resist the
temptation to 'borrow' H.G.K. shorts for other matches. The cost of
the shorts would be between 16/- and 18/- per pair and this was agreed.
Secretary asked, subject to Treasurer's Report, to purchase two
dartboards. This was agreed.
Jack Howtree said our bank balance stood at £263, less outsanding bills
to [?] of approximately £151, but receipts from "Hawaii" are still
to come in. Chairman asked for a full statement of balances and
Jack Howtree agreed.
Frank War?sle has agreed to replace Peter Hancock on the Bar Committee
while he is away on location. George asked if a replacement could be
found for Christine on the Bar Committee. It was agreed Brian Dolan
sit as new ?????r. It was also agreed that the Bar Committee should
meet[?] fortnightly, dates to be arranged by members concerned. [?]
(NOTE: I tried my best on this. Anywhere I was unsure, I tried to mark it with question marks.)
Obviously this has absolutely nothing to do with the show, and wasn’t intended to be read by the audience.
It’s unsurprising that this text is clearly sourced from the UK considering The Prisoner was an ITC production. There seems to be a pattern of the letter a, e, and s, especially, having the hammer not strike hard enough. Makes critical pieces of this tough to puzzle out.
I went through several frames of the episode. The paper actually appears twice, once at 20:38 and again in another, similar scene with the same props at 43:36. Pieces of it are clearer than others depending on the frame, but I used all of them, and some visual tweaking in Photoshop to draw out details.
There’s a little more at the bottom of the page but it never appears in focus on-screen.
This one helps ground the text in the mid-1960s. At least December 1966, since the Cinerama production “Grand Prix” was released on 1966-12-21. If I’m reading that correctly, it looks like they reserved 52 seats valued at 17 shillings, 6 pence, but gotten at a bulk discount? (I may be reading into it there.)
I did a bit of research (thanks, dv!) and all I could turn up was a showing at the Abbey Cinerama Theater in Liverpool. Turns out the ‘Liverpool Echo’ newspaper (PDF) was dated April 5th, 1967 – the exact date in question.
Alf Hunter? Seems right.
H.G.K.? N.G.K.? H.G.H.? None of them produce anything obviously related… I tried rugby football, soccer, various sports clubs, etc. I’ve come so close, but never quite close enough.
Congrats on the dartboards.
Jack Pawtree? Jack Rawtree? Jack Rowtree? Jack Howtree? Jack Hawtree? You’d think having TWO examples of it on the page would be a bit of natural error correction. I dug around some directories and census data and couldn’t find anything that made any of those favored over the other.
Bar Committee (probably)
Frank Warsale? Frank Warcole? Frank Wargale?
I really busted my ass trying to connect these dots. Shockingly, I got the most traction on the Cinerama section. The rest… lots of little clues, but nothing substantial. I could spend a lot more time on this and maybe start opening my wallet to some better tools, but this is about as much as I can squeeze out of this little OSINT side quest on a Saturday.
If you know anything, found something, or just have an observation I might have missed, hit me up on Twitter.