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18 June 2014
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Classic TV | The Prisoner | Episode Guide
PictureBy Jonathan Morris

Note: Jonathan Morris has watched an awful lot of cult television, but he's never seen The Prisoner. Here are his thoughts, as he watched the series for the first time.

This is not a proper episode guide.

Proper episode guides have lists of episode titles, with synopses and cast lists. They have production codes and transmission dates. They give marks out of ten.

This is not a proper episode guide. It's a series of reviews, written for amusement, not originally intended for publication. The aim, instead, is to recreate the experience of encountering me in the pub, drunk, and asking me what I thought of the episode of The Prisoner I watched last night. Which means there is much baseless opinion, many pointless digressions and several jokes about how the sinister Rover is, in fact, a big white wobbly killer tit.

I should also warn you of one other thing. I am no great expert on television (except when drunk) and am no great authority on The Prisoner. In fact, when I wrote these reviews, I'd never seen it before. I was unburdened by preconception.

So if you want critical analysis, behind-the-scenes factoids and blow-by-blow accounts, you should search elsewhere. I'm not saying that my reviews won't contain these things, but if they do it will probably only be in small quantities, and by accident.

But hopefully they'll entertain.

Note on episode running order

One of the many fascinating things about The Prisoner is that no-one knows what order the episodes should be watched in. There is, however, a consensus on two things. Firstly, they should not be watched in the order they were made, and secondly, they should not be watched in the order they were broadcast.

Part of the charm of The Prisoner is its non-linearity. Some episodes which seem to happen later in the run need to be viewed early, because they set up stuff that the viewer needs to know in order to understand what happens later on.

This doesn't actually make sense.

Which encapsulates what The Prisoner is all about. The fun is in trying to fit together the jigsaw pieces, only to discover that the picture doesn't match the one on the box, that half the pieces are missing and one of the pieces seems to have emigrated from an entirely different jigsaw of a cowboy.

For my 'Prisoner Watch' I viewed the episodes in a special order devised by an expert who had scoured each episode for clues as to where it slotted into the series' progression. He searched every line of dialogue for mentions of how long Number 6 had been a prisoner, whether they referred to stuff that had happened before, and how each episode fitted into Number 6's personal development. He then carefully wrote the episode titles onto a sheet of paper, fixed the paper to a dartboard and threw darts at it.

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