The Prisoner – tape 1409

There’s some tracking problems on the tape at the start but they calm down. I even rewound after a few seconds and started playing again.

The first episode of The Prisoner on this tape is Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling. It co-stars Nigel Stock.

This is a strange episode in which Number Six’s mind is transferred into the body of Nigel Stock, his memory of the village wiped, and put back into Number Six’s house. Number 2 wants him to find out about a scientist, Seltzman.

So he spends the episode wondering why he’s in a different body, and trying to explain to everyone who he is – all without ever once actually speaking his actual name.

There’s shots of him driving McGoohan’s car, except it’s stock footage of McGoohan himself driving, not Nigel Stock. I guess they thought nobody would be able to tell of the shots were fast enough.

He tracks down Professor Seltzman in Austria, but Seltzman obviously doesn’t recognise him.

Seltzman is brought back to the Village, and transfers the minds back to their respective bodies. The experiment has a Frankenstein flavour.

But the twist is, as well as restoring Number Six, he swaps his mind with Nigel Stock’s and escapes the village at the end.

Musical note: There’s a repeating musical theme in this episode, but it’s not the song named in the title, it’s ‘My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean’. Perhaps they couldn’t license the music.

The next episode is Living In Harmony. It’s a western. I don’t know why. It co-stars Alexis Kanner, who turns up a few times in the series, and is so special that he gets a box around his name in the opening credits. Was he really famous for a couple of years? I only know him from this, and from a film he made, also with McGoohan, called Kings and Desperate Men.

While we’re looking at credits, here’s a very unusual credit for a TV show.

TV doesn’t often allow for a Written, Produced and Directed by credit. David Tomblin was a key person on The Prisoner, and he was a legendary First Assistant Director on a huge number of big movies, including the Indiana Jones trilogy.

I’m afraid this episode always bores me. It’s a western, and I don’t really like westerns. And it’s quite a dull western. Then it finally reverts to the Village, and Number Six meets all the principals back in the village.

Another reason I don’t really like this is the misogynistic undertone of some of it –  a woman gets strangled, twice, for no reason that I can discern.

Next it’s The Girl Who Was Death. Oh good, it’s about cricket.

And it’s another format-breaking show, as we meet The Prisoner outside the village in his normal guise.

In fact, this entire episode seems to be set up so that McGoohan can adopt various disguises. Cricketer.

Steam Bath customer

Boxing Sherlock Holmes? I’ve no idea.

Top Gear Presenter?

Now someone’s dressed as Napoleon.

The climax takes place in a lighthouse. That’s actually a rocket. Which explodes.

Finally, there’s Once Upon a Time, an episode written and directed by Patrick McGoohan himself.

Number Two is played by Leo McKern.

McKern played Number Two in The Chimes of Big Ben, and it’s unusual to have a Number Two return.

Frankly, this programme has lost the plot.

At the end of the episode, having apparently killed Number Two, he’s taken to see Number One, and that’s where the episode ends.

After this, recording continues with the start of Midnight Special: Clinton, a Channel 4 special report about Bill Clinton’s inauguration, presented by Jon Snow in his Sunday best.

The tape ends during this programme.

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