What is the Prisoner?
A TV series that first aired in 1967. The shortest description I can give beyond that is, take the world of James Bond and turn it sideways. Then ask,
Where do secret agents go when they retire or resign? When one turns the world of James Bond sideways, the answer one finds is The Village. A place where the line between right and wrong cannot be seen, where people have no names only numbers,
where those in power try to take one's individuality, and where there is no freedom. In such a world nothing is what it seems, and the only defense one has is the spirit.
The series questions the forms and institutions that make up society. First it uses numbers to identify people, giving the main character the number 6. Interesting, today we all can be identified by numbers such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and most important of all social security numbers. Second taking a look at democracy, the series shows in the Village the media makes the candidates and it does not matter what they stand for in the end they are all the same. No matter how much one wants to change the system he can not; the system will change him. Now, in our two party system, we have two parties because they are what the media cover, one can not tell one party from the other as time goes by. Education is the third institution questioned by the series. In the Village, one can get a university level degree in 3 minutes through a process known as Speed Learn the information is imprinted on the brain without any effort on the part of the student. The implications are that no more learning will take place, for the basis of education is to ask questions. With Speed Learn one knows society wants him to know and there no need for questions or change, Is our educational system heading in this direction?
Patrick McGoohan summed up the meaning of the series:
I think progress is the biggest enemy on earth, apart from oneself… I think we're gonna take good care of this planet shortly… there's never been a weapon created yet on the face of the Earth that hadn't been used….
…We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche… As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy. We're at the mercy of the advertiser and of course there are certain things that we need, but a lot of the stuff that is bought is not needed….
…We all live in a little Village… Your village may be different from other people's villages but we are all prisoners.(Warner Troyer interviews Patrick McGoohan for the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, March 1977)
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