Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Number Six is free.

Patrick McGoohan died today at the age of 80.

This sad piece of news hits just when my mind has turned to all things The Prisoner, having just discovered the Port Merion Sim, which is based on the resort town in northern Wales where the series was filmed.*

The show, about a secret agent held captive in a scenic but oppressive community known only as The Village, was McGoohan's creation. To this day it remains a cogent meditation on the conflict of the individual versus society, and the duties and limits of both. The Prisoner sported an enigmatic "deep" mythology, the likes of which would spring up again on later shows like Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Lost. But unlike those later efforts, McGoohan and company were content to let the initial concept play out. Rather than throwing in after-the-fact additions that would have extended the show's life and likely rendered the mythology convoluted and stale, The Prisoner gave its run a definite ending and lasted a mere 17 episodes.

McGoohan was a man of prodigous talent, though often reduced to playing the heavy, especially in film. Moviegoers will recognize him as the warden in Escape from Alcatraz or King Edward Longshanks in Braveheart. Even the heroic (and never-named) Number Six is somewhat less than cuddly, as heroes go.

That said, it's a poorer world for him not being in it.

* - hat tip to Paula Wilcox for the geography lesson

UPDATE: AMC has the entire series available for viewing if you haven't had the pleasure.

UPDATE 2: Freaky coincidence: When I logged in to add the previous update "Folsom Prison Blues" came up on my playlist. After editing the post and viewing the blog to see how it turned out, the playlist picked "I'm In Jail" by Was Not Was.

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