It made me.
Rather like the Quatermass serials, The Prisoner is like a "TV demo" - showing the possibilities of the medium. What marks the Prisoner out though, is that is was made by a maverick with the blessing of the most powerful man in television. Something like the Prisoner will NEVER happen again and, as such, it is the most original and unique television series ever made and one which is still as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.
I was 14, just getting into music and guitars and things and my cousin - who was 10 years older than me - started a band called "The Village" and told me he'd got the name from a TV show called "The Prisoner". I didn't think much about it, until one episode was repeated on channel 4 - early in 1992 I think ... and that was that.
After seeing that one off episode - "The Girl Who Was Death", which isn't even particularly representative of the series!! - I was very taken with it. I remember watching that episode thinking that it didn't feel like anything else I'd ever seen - it was incredibly surreal. I went out and bought the video of the first episode ... and just fell in love with it. I slowly bought up all the episodes and remember vividly watching the final unveiling of number one one teatime after rushing home with the last video and having spent all of my paper round money in the last six months on Prisoner videos.
Seeing it for the first time in my teens, the series had a profound effect upon me. At a time in my life when I was growing up, developing a world view, becoming politicised and all the rest of it, The Prisoner was my Catcher In The Rye, if you see what I mean. Most teenagers can cite a book or piece of art as the one that helped them through adolecence - The Prisoner was mine. I started to question things a lot more, I was more confident in my own abilities - I was obsessed with idea of individuality and standing out from the herd. The Prisoner got me into arguments with teachers, lecturers and bosses, informed how I interpreted the news and media, how I behaved with friends and colleagues ... it consumed every fibre of my being.
Once into my 20s I calmed down a bit and I view the Prisoner now as one might read a contemplative Hermann Hesse novel. I watch my favourite episodes - in particular the relentlessly complex "Dance of the Dead" when I'm feeling down or confused - look to The Prisoner for guidance almost. A shot of Number Six is almost like a performance inhancing drug to help when life starts to grind you down.
The first piece of television I recognised as a classic
Edge of Darkness
I became very interested in the cold war and of all the *superb* pieces of televsion from the era - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Threads being stand outs - Edge of Darkness is the only TV series to step cautiously into The Prisoner's territory in terms fo subject matter, the lone hero, the various sub-texts and production values. Edge of Darkness remains the very last piece of *must see* British television drama and one which - like The Prisoner - is just as valid and pertinent today.
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