Review – The Prisoner (1967)


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.

Anyway, onward…

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

    • 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:
    • fun palace
    • hospital
    • shop
    • taxi rank
    • council
    • bandstand
    • exchange
    • town hall
    • old people
    • old ship
    • advisory (advice?)
  • 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

  • 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.

This episode made me lose a whole Saturday investigating the Professor’s typewritten manuscripts.


Quick Re-watch Observations

  • No.6 undercover!
  • Using “thing boxes” to accept the security token is… inspired?
  • No.6 gets a little sloppy in the projection room.
  • That’s a slightly modified Xerox 660 desktop copier that the manuscripts are being fed into.

Ep 7 – Many Happy Returns

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.


Realtime Observations:

  • 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.

Realtime Observations:

  • 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.


Realtime Observations:

  • 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.


Realtime Observations:

  • 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.
      • 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.


    Realtime Observations:

      • 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.


    Realtime Observations:

    • 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. 😉
      • #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.


    Realtime Observations:

    • 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.

    EDIT: Turns out this episode was quite literally filler.


    Realtime Observations

    • 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.

    I bet there’s a dozen versions of this on eBay.

    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.


    Realtime Observations

    • 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.
    • “Wee!”
    • 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.


    Realtime Observations

    • 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. 😉


    Realtime Observations

    • 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.
    • WELL. COME.
    • This is like a Bond villain’s basement.
    • 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.
    • So this No.2 was abducted, too?
    • So this is what it’s like for Mario in the pipes.
    • ORBIT 48. ORBIT 2. …?!
    • So much for my theory that he’s unwilling to kill. (Just really hurt people. Like Batman.) This just turned into a shootout.
    • A shootout with The Beatles in the background.
    • Oh yeah, remember The Village? Remember them?
    • Faaaakey.
    • Oh no! All the toy helicopters are leaving!
    • OH. MY. GOD.
    • They REALLY pulled out all the stops for this. Just flat out insanity.
    • His door hums like it did in The Village.
    • That’s it, huh? No denying that.
    • Rover remains an unexplained enigma. Good.

    At a Glance…

    viewed orderepisode titlerating
    2The Chimes of Big Ben⭐⭐⭐⭐
    3A. B. and C.⭐⭐⭐
    4Free for All⭐⭐⭐
    5The Schizoid Man⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    6The General⭐⭐⭐⭐
    7Many Happy Returns⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    8Dance of the Dead⭐⭐
    10Hammer into Anvil⭐⭐⭐⭐
    11It’s Your Funeral⭐⭐
    12A Change of Mind⭐⭐⭐
    13Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling⭐⭐⭐⭐
    14Living in Harmony⭐⭐
    15The Girl Who Was Death⭐⭐
    16Once Upon a Time⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    17Fall Out⭐⭐⭐

    Review – Suicide Squad (2016)


    Finally got around to it!

    I was initially interested in it back when it came out, but all the stories and horrible things I’d heard… and THAT JOKER… I noped out pretty fast.

    Fast forward to 2021 — figured I’d give it a go, since I seriously enjoyed Margot Robbie’s version of Harley in Birds of Prey. That, and it’s pretty much the last DCEU film I’d yet to see.

    And I… liked it?

    Now, hold up, I mean, it’s by NO MEANS perfect. But I actually had a better time here than, say, with the sequel to Wonder Woman ’84. Which, honestly, I never thought I’d ever say considering how near godly the original WW was.

    This was fun. It was pretty much what I expected after years of exposure, but there were actually several twists in this I didn’t know about despite everything I’d heard.

    Smith’s Deadshot is fun, but only because it’s Will Smith playing Will Smith with shooting skills delivering dialogue like a tired Will Smith. And if that still works for you, here you go. (It did for me, despite this.)

    Harley is fun, but a lot more unhinged. In the bad way. I thought for sure Joker was going to betray her at some point, and we’d get the start of her disconnect from him and her liberation.

    But no, we’re in full Stockholm Syndrome mode for the entire film.

    That said, this was a great stepping stone to her further refinement in Birds of Prey, where she stole the film for me.

    The rest had their moments — especially Diablo. (And hey, it’s the positively delightful Karen Fukuhara (The Boys) as Katana! Woo!)

    Hell, I didn’t even hate Joker…?! No, I’m serious — and I can’t believe I’m saying it.

    I still absolutely LOATHE his version of the character. But…. I can’t really deny that this gangsta thug incarnation… he slots in quite well into this particular, gritty universe.

    I mean, I can dislike him and still accept that he’s a good match, right?

    Enchantress was interesting, but as the ultimate goal of the film it was kind of lacking. The ending reminded me a whole lot of Ghostbusters, actually. With more sword fighting. Less marshmallows.

    Far better than expected, but it was a almost the lowest possible bar going in, so… the deed is done. Glad I gave it a go. It’s not the complete dumpster fire folks said, but still on the lower end of the DCEU’s already low-skewed rankings.


    Review – Space Jam: A New Legacy


    If they’d called it “Space Jam 2.0” it’d almost be appropriate: “New Legacy” is the same basic premise, but with improvements everywhere.

    And maybe a little TRON rubbed in for good measure.

    I literally saw the original Space Jam earlier this year for the first time, so I don’t place it on a pedestal. There’s no nostalgia tint for me, outside of basic pop culture references to it.

    I liked the original, but overall it felt like a flick of certain era, who’s success was largely boosted thanks to the obvious gimmick involved.

    New Legacy, too, is a gimmick film, make no mistake. But in 2021, nothing it does technically, as far as modern audiences are concerned, is “special”. Mixing humans and CGI and classic cartoon animation is old hat by now, and no longer a feat that can carry a film to success, alone.

    While New Legacy absolutely pushes as hard as it can into the marketing cross-over spectacle, and the real life/animation gimmick, the actual skeleton of the story that’s draped over is much stronger. It now leans hard to the relationship between a father and son. In fact, it’s central to the conflict both at home, and on the court.

    Don’t misread me: it’s still corny as hell, and you have to kind of go in with a certain attitude and accept that it’ll be absurd. But that’s no more or less than what you needed to enjoy the original film.

    But overall? I dug it quite a bit. Wasn’t expecting that.

    ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

    Concerning “The Goonies”


    Finally caught “The Goonies”. Another in a long line of films I knew 80% about but never actually sat down to watch, start to finish.

    As good as expected, but I never knew about this downer ending. 😞

    Review – The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)


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    The Mitchells vs. The Machines just might be my new favorite animated film.

    Or at least it slots into my Top 3 with ease. This is possibly the funniest and most creative film I’ve seen in a long time.

    The characters take almost no time to get to know and love. There’s an insane energy to the film.

    It’s almost like… ugh, this is a VERY strained analogy that I’m not entirely comfortable with, but I can’t get it out of my head: the happily “outsider” vibe of The Addams Family crossed with the family unity of the Belchers from Bob’s Burgers. (Hell, the mom is even named ‘Lin’.) Then mix in a dash of Gravity Falls, and lots of energy drinks.

    And then send them all on a road trip to save the world.

    The comedy is often quite hyperkinetic but there isn’t a dud in the batch. For a lesser film a fast pace of “random” and pop culture might be a negative, but The Mitchells own it and thread that needle with ease. It never becomes obnoxious.

    Honestly, I can’t praise it enough. I LOVED this flick and I’m kind of clawing the desk to throw it on again.

    I sincerely hope they consider follow-ups in the style of a “The Mitchells vs….” series, keeping the same writers. Because they’ve REALLY got something special here.


    Review – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier


    Loved everything with Sam and Bucky. Especially Sam’s journey, and the stuff with Isaiah Bradley.

    Walker was amazing, too. And not that I don’t think he was beyond redemption, but it was rushed. I mean, he teams up easily with the guys who BROKE HIS ARM and took the Cap mantle from him the last episode (though I get some time has passed).

    These two storylines seemed to be the most important parts of the show, and received the most attention.

    They were almost perfect.

    But everything with Sharon and the Flag Smashers (hey, band name!) felt mediocre. At best, shoehorned in. The best guess I’m hearing going around is that the Flag Smasher narrative possibly centered around a pandemic, and well… given the COVID situation, they had to hastily butcher it up into something… incoherent.

    But regardless, it was weak. And unfortunately the entire series wrapped it’s overall narrative on that brittle skeleton.

    The real MVP, though? The Baron. Give him his own series, please. Just all Zemo all the time. He was the most fun I had with the show. Unfortunately it felt like he was there just to setup a go at the Thunderbolts later, because he had almost no real impact on the story (his butler’s hilarious moment in the finale aside).

    That said, looking forward to a second season, if they do it. The title characters made it worth watching, and I’d happily give it another shot with a new, hopefully better constructed story. One that doesn’t get butchered up in editing like this one appears to have been.

    Bring on Loki!


    Review – J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and The Church of the SubGenius (2019)


    As a backer, it took a surprising amount of time to finally get access to the film.

    And then when I finally received access, I sat on it even longer.

    Some might consider that appropriate for the subject matter: I was void of slack and mad, and then received the slack at my leisure once I was given a choice.

    That said, I’d had high expectations for the film — my only concern being that the title would make it difficult to search for, or worse, drown out other Church propaganda.

    But I was wrong on both counts: it’s easy enough to search for, if you quote the title exactly.

    And this documentary exceeded my expectations.

    Sure, the Church “comes clean”, finally. But if you’ve paid even a modest amount of attention to the Hour of Slack radio show, or other Church related materials over the years, there isn’t REALLY a whole lot new here. If you’re not a “Bobbie” and had a reasonably good sense of humor, you were already in on the joke.

    But it’s nice to have it “for the record” and all in one place. And the presentation just oozes quality, with some lovely animations interspersed among the heaps of old VHS recordings.

    This is a terrific doc. I’m not sure about the appeal for those not already familiar with “Bob”, but maybe it will awaken something in you. 😉


    Review – Snyder’s Justice League (Spoiler-free)


    I’ve been very much critical of the whole “Release the Snyder Cut” movement. It’s supporters were, more often than not, entitled, angry, vocal assholes.

    Imagine my dread when the studio decided to capitalize on that movement and make it happen to bolster HBO Max.

    Much to my surprise, this actually takes a mediocre movie and makes numerous improvements. Dare I say this is a much better film than Whedon’s attempt with Justice League in 2017. It’s by no means free of flaws, but the narrative flows better. The new content does a lot of fleshing out, too.

    And even though I’m, by far, not a fan of Snyder’s visual style — I heard someone refer to it as a “motorcycle grease” aesthetic. Visually this film fits better with the previous entries. (I do miss Whedon’s saturation, at least.)

    Was it worth the $70 million fucking dollars to fix the film? Absolutely not. Good lord!

    But the deed is done. No use complaining about THAT at this point.

    The only real black mark on this take: it’s FOUR hours long, with no real justification for that length other than to let you soak in the film’s grease for long stretches as music fills the void.

    The length is going to make future viewings prohibitive. It’ll keep this from making it the de facto version of Justice League, I think. And that’s a shame, because it really is a “patch” that fixes a lot.

    Finally, against all odds, I can actually say: I’d like to see Snyder do a sequel film. I dislike his style, but I’m finding myself unexpectedly invested now. He’s turned me around on how I feel about this film in general.

    That’s nothing short of a personal miracle.


    Review – Vivarium (2019)


    This should have been a home run. Decent cast. And an interesting foundation of an idea.

    A young couple looking to buy a new home become trapped, alone in community of identical homes. After repeated attempts to escape, always, inexplicably circling back to building #9, a box appears with a newborn baby inside: raise the child, and be released, print on the box promises.

    For a while there it felt like a compelling, bizarre supernatural mystery in the best tradition of Twilight Zone‘s creepiest.

    And then… just as it gives you a taste of where this might finally be going… nothing.

    It yanks the rug out, and practically waves a scolding finger in your face for wanting more from the film. It punishes you for it with a an eye-roll of an ending that’s nowhere near as clever as it probably thinks it is.

    There’s some creepy atmosphere, decent acting, but it literally goes nowhere at all. Just enjoy the trailer and imagine your own, more interesting film.


    (Vivariam is currently included with Prime Now.)

    Archer Season 11 Thoughts


    (Lots of spoilers here.)

    Season 11 of Archer has been over for a while now, but a recent video from Wisecrack discussing the downside of the “coma seasons” got me thinking about it again. (For the record, I thought the coma seasons were generally fun, interesting “what if” anthologies that I understood helped break up creator Adam Reed’s creative block. But I was happy to see them in the rear view mirror.)

    This latest season? Fun in the moment-to-moment. But on the whole? I was left feeling apathetic.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the team becoming better without him, while he was in a coma. I mean, I loved the better people they became. Especially Cyril. It was like they all evolved in their ultimate forms.

    And I know, deep down, that “backsliding” is where the plot of the show HAS to go. Their transformation is the setup, and Archer being the reason they were held back is the punchline.

    I understand that. But it also brings a great deal of personal frustration.

    I found myself thoroughly enjoying the new, improved ISIS. And I kind of hoped the show was going to subvert my expectations. Instead of resetting everyone to their pre-coma semi-incompetency (they weren’t technically shitty agents before; just… distracted… and held back), let’s explore the a new normal. One where Archer turns his back on his friends, because he feels betrayed. And they no longer need him to be the agent of chaos ‘glue’ to keep them successful.

    For a while, I seriously believed they were going to do this.The various clues I picked up on almost seemed to suggest Sterling might basically say “fuck it” and start recruiting for his own, competing spy agency. And maybe we’d see future seasons dip into that awkward, jealous rivalry. It certainly looked like Sterling was beginning to accumulate a series of friends who actually LIKED him, for a while there. Aleister, Barry, Hands. Hell, maybe even steal Pam. A competing agency of people who actually appreciate him, and maybe work better with him around? Now that’s an interesting premise to explore for a while.

    But… it didn’t go there.

    Instead it was, apparently, just business as usual? Instead, Lana’s marriage begins to fall apart. Cyril relapses into his “beta” position. And the rest follow suit, with the whole show reset back to Archer being the cause of, and solution to all of their problems.

    And that’s a letdown. The season felt like it was building this arc in the background… but it wasn’t. It was just my imagination. The show was just backsliding. Like the characters themselves.

    And now with Sterling seeing coma illusions in the finale, I don’t know if this is a fake-out and he’s still in the coma. Or is this some new psychosis?

    I… just don’t care…🤔

    As a massive fan of the show for a very long time, that genuinely hurts to admit.

    Don’t get me wrong, the show is still fun, if a bit tired. But it just feels completely aimless in the larger view. And that’s on them: they introduced the season-long arc concept back when the show took a hard turn into  Archer:Vice. And now, many seasons later, a viewer can’t be blamed for looking for that to continue… trying to find a thread interlinking the episodes… and feeling kind of empty when nothing of consequence is there.

    Though, the coma illusion stuff in the finale feels like wanting your cake and eating it. But I guess we’ll see what happens next season for that thread. If there WAS anything anything TO it.

    So yeah. I really don’t know what the hell they’re doing at this point.

    There was a predictable vibe to the show that was it’s meat and potatoes in prior years that is hard to accept returning to. Those jokes and tropes made the show what we love. But increasingly Archer feels like a show that knows that it has to change, tries for a bit, but then gets cold feet about commitment and swings the steering wheel back onto the main road. Sterling’s daughter was the last straw of my patience for that kind of thing: it felt like we could finally see even a sliver of permanent character development for him, but instead AJ just becomes another delivery system for TWO finger-raised-while-drinking jokes, and, this season, a kidnapping plot point.

    Maybe it was better to just leave Sterling in the coma and leave the future to our imagination. 🤔