I’m not sure when I first saw The Prisoner, but I know it was on WTTW (Channel 11) out of Chicago. I suspect I was in my teens, but I feel as if I was younger and that I watched it with my parents. However, that doesn’t seem right — The Prisoner is not something my parents would have liked.
Regardless of when I first saw The Prisoner, it left its mark on me in a few ways. For one, I had an irrational fear of big white balloons. Honestly. Of course, I didn’t see them very often, but weather balloons come to mind. Now, where on earth would I have seen a weather balloon? Beats me. Maybe I just dreamed about it.
I also had a fear of those old fashioned bicycles — the ones with the huge front wheel — especially when being ridden by someone that seemed more comfortable in a painting by Renoir or a Charles Dickens novel than in real life.
And skinny men with long faces in striped shirts and tight pants? That scared me too.
Putting aside the few things that scared me on the program, it was probably my first taste of quirky science-fiction, and possibly my first taste of surrealism. It was unlike anything I’d seen, except for maybe The Avengers. It also, along with all other media in my life, helped shape the person I was to become. So, when I heard that Patrick McGoohan died this week, I paused and smiled and remembered Number 6.
When we first joined Netflix I rented several episodes from The Prisoner. We watched it as a family — my kids were very young, but liked the program. I think that they appreciated the episodes of The Simpsons where the big white balloon made an appearance more after seeing the “Rover” on The Prisoner.
We didn’t watch the entire series because we grew tired of Number 6 thinking he was going to escape each episode, only be thwarted in the end. I’ve not seen the ending of the program, but I suspect he is still in The Village. Maybe I’ll rent them again though — just for me.
Anyway, here’s to you Number 6. You are, indeed now, a free man.