The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

Christopher Webster [DVD News 11.17.09] Tuvalu review scifi dvd



Year: 2009
Directors: Patrick McGoohan / Pat Jackson / Don Chaffey / David Tomblin
Writers: Patrick McGoohan / David Tomblin / Anthony Skene / Terence Feely
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon: link
Review by: agentorange
Series Rating: 9 out of 10
DVD Rating: 7 out of 10

In episode six of the 1968 version of The Prisoner, our hero, Number 6, wakes up to find "the Village" completely deserted. No cheery "good morning" greets him from the shrill local radio girl. No running water awaits him for his shower and shave and no other prisoners are out walking the streets. "This is it," we think. This is his chance to make a get away.

For the next 30 minutes (a lifetime in TV terms) we watch a dead-silent Six plan and execute an elaborate, daring and sometimes dangerous escape. Not one word is uttered, yet we're completely riveted. We know what's coming. We know Six will get the rug pulled out from under him and end up right back where he started. We just don't know how? Even though we know this, we still desperately want to see him succeed and get back to London to bring down his captors. And then, like clockwork, it happens. Six gets screwed and we're all right back where we started. Dang.

Such is the maddening brilliance of Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner, the first (and perhaps only) television series that dared to ask audiences to tune in every week and watch its hero fail.


Of course The Prisoner was never designed to be like other shows. McGoohan was a huge star by the late 60's so he had some clout when it came to pitching it to ITV. If it had come from anyone else I doubt it would have seen the light of day. Basically the show was a giant metaphor for the struggle to maintain one's individuality in a society that depends on a certain level of conformity. Oh sure, it was a scifi show in a lot of trend-setting ways too, but if ever there was a product that sprung from the ideology of the flower-power generation, The Prisoner was it. We're all just lucky that it came from England, so it was more Mod chic and less Haight-Ashbury hippy. But I digress.

I could talk about how smart The Prisoner is all day, but since this is supposedly a DVD review I'll skip the commentary and just point you all to Rick McGrath's seminal piece on the matter.

This new DVD set from A&E is a snappy little compact number that contains all 17 episodes on 10 discs. It's got some decent features including an ancient pseudo-documentary / video essay called "The Prisoner Video Companion" and some rare behind the scenes footage with a commentary from production manager Bernie Williams. However, it is all the same stuff that appeared on the original DVD boxed set from A&E years ago, so if you've already got that set stay away from this one. For people who have always wanted the series, picking this up is a no brainer as it's cheaper and will take up less shelf space.

Personally, I would have liked to see more from the set. I know McGhooan has passed on, but a commentary from a scholar on the series premier, "Arrival" and a couple of new featurettes discussing the significance of the show would have been pretty sweet.

Of course since this is a double dip, the transfer is nothing to brag about. There are no major problems though. Blacks are rich and there is little bleed, but the odd major scratch could have been repaired I'm sure. I watched the DVDs and not Blu-ray mind you. No 5.1 Surround on this either which doesn't bother me as I prefer to watch film the way they were originally mixed so the 2.0 Stereo works just fine for this show.

So basically, if you're new to the series this is as good as is out there and the show is awesome so highly recommended.

You might also like

avatar

Joan (9 years ago) Reply

The original 1968 McGoohan Prisoner is a masterpiece. It's fun, prescient, thought-provoking, & fast-paced. ( Please ignore a terrible 2009 re-imagining with the same title. )


Leave a comment