THE UNMUTUAL PRISONER ARTICLE ARCHIVE
AN EPISODE GUIDE
By Tom Mayer
A Warner Brothers Television Production
Created by James Lee
Produced by James Lee, Norman S. Powell and Robert Van Scoyk
Patrick McGoohan as Dr. Sidney Rafferty
Millie Slavin as Nurse Vera Wales
and John Getz as Dr. Daniel Gentry
Also starring Joan Pringle as Nurse Beryl Keynes, David Clennon as Dr. Calvin, Craig Wasson as Dr. Furey and Michael C. Gwynne as Dr. Prud'homme.
Each episode is rated according to the following scale:
*** -- Good
** -- Fair
* -- Poor
The episodes are listed in the order of their original U.S. airdates, with the exception of the unaired installments. I have slotted them in before the final episode, since they were filmed 10th, 11th and 12th respectively. Any memorable scenes involving the series' star have been singled out as a Best McGoohan Moment. Notable appearances by guest stars in other films and TV series have been mentioned as well.
This article is the second of a two-part look at Rafferty. Part One can be found HERE.
PILOT (A.K.A. RAFFERTY)
Written By James Lee
Directed By Jerry Thorpe
Original U.S. Airdate: September 05, 1977
Production Number: Unknown (most likely the first episode filmed.)
In the premiere episode of the series, Dr. Sid Rafferty deals with two complicated medical cases over a 24-hour period. After saving the life of a man who was stabbed on a bus during a robbery attempt, Rafferty is threatened with legal action for having performed major surgery on the victim without his (or his wife's) permission. Second, Rafferty tries to convince both a fellow surgeon and a concerned father that a paralyzed teenage girl might not need surgery -- she may recover on her own if given time.
This is a good opening episode (written and directed by the program's creators, no less) that sets the tone for the series and illustrates how Rafferty's unconventional style of doctoring sometimes pays off. When Rafferty advises that the girl's operation be postponed, he must contend with protests from the girl's father and his fellow staff, resulting in a solitary stand against what is expected. Eventually, he is proven right when the girl regains movement in her legs the next morning -- just when she was to be operated on. This individualistic streak in Rafferty's character is obviously what appealed to McGoohan when he took on the role.
His performance is solid and confident, yet he seems a bit clipped and quirkier than usual. Perhaps he was still trying to get a handle on the character, or maybe he was already getting uncomfortable with the role this early in the show's production. As a result, casual viewers not accustomed to McGoohan's acting style may have had difficulty warming to the character. However, the writers were smart to give Rafferty several moments where he shows a sympathetic side. First, in several scenes with his secretary, Vera, he slyly acknowledges her obvious attraction to him. Later, he offers to sleep on a chair in the paralyzed girl's hospital room to comfort her throughout the night before her surgery.
Being the pilot episode, this installment doesn't begin with the standard title sequence. Instead, the credits and an alternate version of the theme music are played over a sequence of Rafferty sitting on a bench feeding birds while waiting for the bus. Once Rafferty boards the bus, the man he eventually saves is attacked and stabbed. In an unusual twist, the mugger escapes, and is never referred to again for the rest of the episode. This is a strange oversight to forget a major subplot, as well as to let an obvious criminal go free. Perhaps the writers wanted to establish that the series would not be about solving crimes, but would instead deal with the treatment of Rafferty's patients -- no matter how they end up in his care.
Based on this episode, the series appears to be off to a decent start. The writing is solid with good drama, and genuine respect for the characters. However, the predictable recovery of the paralyzed girl shows that the series was not above clichéd melodrama, even this early in its run.
Best McGoohan Moment: when Rafferty is threatened with a $3.8 million lawsuit from an attorney representing the wounded man, McGoohan launches into the following monologue in his inimitable style:
"First of all, there is no insurance company, and second, my bedrock financial worth is the $11,500 a year pension I get as a field grade officer, United States Army. Also, I'm not gettin' rich on my practice, believe it or not. Now, I probably have more faith in the jury system than you, and if ... IF! ... a jury would award you the WHOLE enchilada, it would have to come out of MY hide. Now, an educated guess, I would say that'd be ... let's see ... a hundred dollars a month, until the year 4,000, by which time it wouldn't be one of my pressing problems, now would it?"
Notable guest stars include familiar character actor Richard Herd (V: The Original Miniseries) as the attorney who gets an earful from Rafferty, and Sam Wanamaker as the girl's father. Wanamaker had guest-starred with McGoohan 17 years earlier in the excellent 1960 Danger Man episode "The Lonely Chair."
02: BROTHERS AND SONS
Written by Arthur Heinmann & James Lee
Story by Jerry De Bono
Directed by Barry Crane
Original U.S. Airdate: September 12, 1977
Production No. 166734 (5th filmed)
Rafferty helps an African American family of young siblings who are living alone after the disappearance of their mother. He also attempts to find a donor for a teenage girl needing a kidney transplant. A candidate ends up being her half-brother who was given up for adoption 21 years earlier. He's now a college track star, and a transplant procedure may ruin his chances for a successful sports career.
A forgettable episode, again utilizing two separate plotlines that never come together (many shows of the 1970s and 80s used this device). The story of the missing mother comes to a hurried conclusion in a scene with a group-hug set to some melodramatic music. Rafferty looks rather unmoved.
This is the first episode to feature the standard title sequence. It consists of a single shot of Rafferty walking through a sunny park, intercut with split-second freeze-frames of him taken from the pilot episode. The instrumental theme, by Leonard Rosenman, is heavy on the syrupy strings, reminiscent of "The Theme From A Summer Place" by Percy Faith. Since the premise of the show plays up Rafferty's acerbic, individualistic nature, it's odd that the producers chose such a soft, saccharine piece of music for the theme.
We also see Rafferty's car for the first time -- a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible. At first I thought it was white, but was surprised to hear a character in a later episode describe it as yellow! Apparently, the horrendous picture quality of the DVDs has bleached much color out of the exterior scenes. Regardless, after John Drake's Mini Cooper and No.6's Lotus Seven, McGoohan thankfully has another decent vehicle to tool around in!
EPISODE 03: A POINT OF VIEW
Written by James Lee
Directed by Alexander Singer
Original U.S. Airdate: September 19, 1977
Production No. 166731 (2nd filmed)
A psychiatrist at Rafferty's hospital is attacked and raped one night in the parking garage. She refuses to report the incident to the police, causing Rafferty to question her motives. Rafferty also befriends a young blind woman who refuses his help in an attempt to restore her eyesight.
An average episode that comes close to being good, but never quite makes it. The major drawback is the predicable conclusions to both storylines. The blind girl (surprise!) gets her sight back, while the psychiatrist's attacker is revealed to be (wait for it!) one of her patients. These are disappointing endings to an otherwise intriguing premise -- that of Rafferty determining why both women will not seek help for their respective misfortunes.
There are memorable moments though. The scene where Rafferty meets Lisa, the blind woman, is amusing. His Mustang stalls at a red light, where she is waiting for a bus. While Rafferty is waving angry motorists around his stalled vehicle, she helps him restart the car by directing him to the loose engine hoses that are causing the trouble. She explains that she learned about engines in the Peace Corps.
It was there that she lost her sight in a bus accident that took the lives of several children. Rafferty surmises that her blindness is hysterical -- a way of punishing herself for the accident. In a dramatic scene on the beach, Rafferty forces Lisa to face that her condition is psychological. She refuses to accept the idea, until the sound of a young girl calling for help in the nearby surf, causes her to have a breakdown. This sequence illustrates how forceful Rafferty can be when trying to help someone in need.
Morgan Fairchild guest stars as Lisa. She's appeared in many films and TV series including North and South, Flamingo Road, Falcon Crest and Friends.
Prisoner fans will get a kick out of the following scenes. First, while at Lisa's oceanfront house, Rafferty asks her if she ever goes swimming:
"I never go in unless I've got someone with me," she says. "Someone, or good old Rover."
"Rover?" says Rafferty surprised.
"My dog." she explains.
"Oh, Rover," Rafferty says, "that's my idea of a name for a dog!"
Later, when Rafferty visits Lisa at her office, he sees the dog sleeping under her desk. "This must be Rover," Rafferty deadpans, while petting him. "A really ferocious-lookin' beast!"
EPISODE 04: THE CUTTING EDGE
Written by John Meredyth Lucas
Directed by Barry Crane
Original U.S. Airdate: September 26, 1977
Production No. 166732 (3rd filmed)
This installment features three parallel plot lines, each given equal time. First, Rafferty zeros in on a possible neurological disorder in Victor Ehren, a concert violinist; second, Dan Gentry's girlfriend, Ellen, is diagnosed with a terminal disease; and third, a young singer's manager/husband gives her cocaine after an operation, causing Rafferty to throw him out of the hospital -- resulting in the husband slapping Rafferty with a lawsuit.
A very good episode featuring one of McGoohan's best outings as Rafferty. Much of the cantankerous, quirky demeanor of past episodes is gone, replaced with a relaxed, enjoyable performance. For once, Rafferty seems happy to be at the hospital, and McGoohan seems happy to be on the set. Still, the occasional weak melodrama creeps in. The scenes of Dan breaking the news to his girlfriend about her disease (as well as a visit to the zoo to cheer her up) are somewhat mawkish; while Rafferty's advice to Janis, the singer, seems forced, as he tells her to live life on her own terms. Regardless, the episode overall, is a fine effort, and would have benefitted the series if it had been broadcast second. Coming directly after the Pilot, it would have made a stronger introduction to the show, rather than "Brothers And Sons" or "A Point Of View."
The opening sequence at the symphony (where Rafferty picks up on Ehren's condition) is well directed, and is a nice departure from beginning a story with another medical emergency. Likewise, the end of the episode contains a charming scene with McGoohan, Slavin and Getz. The three characters are standing in an empty hospital hallway at the end of the day. They share a few words and Rafferty offers to take them out for coffee. He puts his arms around them and, in a long shot, they slowly walk down the hall. It's a nice sequence that quietly reflects their friendship and respect. It's rare that we get to see the three of them together like this.
Best McGoohan Moments: while scrubbing up for an operation, a fellow doctor asks, "You assaulted your patient's husband? Threw him in an elevator!?" Not missing a beat, Rafferty replies, "Couldn't find an open window." (This line is doubly amusing decades later, in light of McGoohan's most memorable scene in Braveheart.) Later, Janis is impressed with Rafferty's personality. "I love the way you talk. You went to college, didn't ya?" she asks. "Yeah, I'm still goin'," Rafferty deadpans.
McGoohan also manages to quote a phrase from his past when he visits an old lawyer friend. She claims he didn't say goodbye after their last meeting. Rafferty replies, "No I didn't -- I remember the exact words. I said, 'Be seeing you.' And here I am, seeing you!"
Peter Donat guest stars as Victor Ehren. A familiar character actor, he appeared in The Godfather Part 2, Rich Man, Poor Man, and The X-Files (as Fox Mulder's father). Writer John Meredyth Lucas had a successful career behind the scenes in U.S. television from the 1950s through the 70s. He produced, wrote and directed for many shows including Star Trek, The Fugitive, The Six Million Dollar Man, Logan's Run and Harry O.
During the scene where Rafferty throws out Janis's husband, a cover version of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" is blasting from a radio. Due to many instances of pop songs being replaced when programs come out on home video, one wonders if this music will be intact if Rafferty is ever officially released on DVD.
THE NARROW THREAD
Teleplay by Robert C. Dennis
Story by Anthony Lawrence
Directed by Barry Crane
Original U.S. Airdate: October 03, 1977
Production No. 166735 (6th filmed)
A pregnant flight attendant fears she may have received radiation poisoning from secret cargo stored on a recent flight she was on. Rafferty offers to help, by calling on a government contact from his army days to investigate. Meanwhile a grumpy, handicapped cartoonist and a deaf orphan form an unlikely bond while sharing a room at City General Hospital.
This episode is Rafferty at its worst -- one of the "monstrous pieces of garbage" McGoohan mentioned. It's tedious viewing from start to finish. The scenes with Byron Murray, the cartoonist, interacting with Dewey, the orphan, seem like they're from another show entirely -- an insipid sitcom at that. Murray's exasperation over learning that Dewey will be his roommate is cringe-inducing. Later, they become fast friends while a syrupy score plays in the background. Eventually, they end up racing wheelchairs down the hospital hallways. Murray crashes into a food cart and tumbles to the floor -- just in time to have Rafferty and Dewey's case worker arrive, and stand there exchanging looks on a long fade out to a merciful commercial break. For once, we can understand exactly why McGoohan hated this show so much.
His clipped, high-pitched voice is back in force during several awkward scenes where he yells at Dewey to get the boy to understand him. As a result, Rafferty is the only one who communicates with Dewey throughout the episode -- apparently, no other character knows how to raise their voice. The poor guy's gotta do everything around here...
The subplot of Rafferty contacting his government agent friend is an interesting angle, with shades of Secret Agent. Rafferty saved the man's injured leg in combat, so to cash in on the debt, he's asking for information on the radioactive cargo. Several mysterious phone calls, and an unofficial meeting in a park add to the "spy" atmosphere. However, the storyline barely registers any screen time and is thus undeveloped. This is unfortunate, because it shows how characters and events from Rafferty's past could have been utilized for a number of storylines.
On the unofficial DVDs that are in circulation, this episode contains some of the worst picture quality of the entire series. The image loses color, gets scrambled and freezes for several seconds at a time, making viewing difficult for an already weak episode.
EPISODE 06: THE EPIDEMIC
Written by David P. Lewis
Directed by Barry Crane
Original U.S. Airdate: October 17, 1977
Production No. 166736 (7th filmed)
City General Hospital ends up with several cases of what is initially assumed to be a polio epidemic. Rafferty finds out that it is really botulism (food poisoning), and he sets out to discover the source before more people end up sick. He interviews the victims' families to find out where (and what) they have eaten the past few days, but comes up empty. He eventually surmises that perhaps they didn't go to the food, but rather the food came to them. A local catering van is found to be responsible.
A well-paced episode that features Rafferty as both doctor and detective. Like the Pilot and "The Cutting Edge", this is another example of how the producers could come up with a decent story when they tried. While hardly a groundbreaking hour of television, it is nonetheless well written and suspenseful enough to keep the viewer engaged. Most importantly, it contains a good combination of scenes with Rafferty both in and out of the hospital. It's too bad more episodes couldn't have maintained this quality and balance.
McGoohan turns in another good performance -- nicely understated, yet forceful enough to convey Rafferty's awareness of the severity of the situation. With all the investigating and legwork he and Vera undertake in this episode, they could open a detective agency as well! In an amusing scene, Rafferty (who needs a court order to administer an anti-toxin) barges into the office of a judge who owes him a favor. When the judge tells him he has to wait, Rafferty shoots back, "You didn't have to wait when you came to me that night with a broken finger. You needed a doctor, now I need a judge!"
The final scene is one of the most memorable of the series, as Rafferty races to a practice field to prevent members of a marching band from eating the contaminated food. As the band breaks for lunch, the kids run toward the van and Rafferty's Mustang speeds into the parking lot. He screeches to a stop, jumps out, and runs to the van a second before the kids arrive. As he blocks their way, the scene freezes, the picture fades out, and the story is over just like that. I've never seen an episode of television end so abruptly.
Guest stars include Bonnie Bartlett (V: The Original Miniseries, St. Elsewhere, Firefly) as a nurse at City General; and familiar character actor James Karen (Wall Street, Mulholland Drive) as a smarmy real estate agent giving Vera a hard time. Edward James Olmos (Miami Vice, Battlestar Galactica) has a small role as either a doctor or an ambulance driver. He's somewhere in a group of hospital staff wheeling the first victim into the emergency room, but it's difficult to identify him due to the poor picture quality.
EPISODE 07: THE WILD CHILD
Written by Sue Milburn
Directed by Patrick McGoohan
Original U.S. Airdate: October 31, 1977
Production No. 166733 (4th filmed)
On a bus ride home from an out-of-town trip, Rafferty ends up staying overnight in the small town of Indigo to help an injured girl. He eventually discovers a screaming teenage boy, Bobby Dane, locked in a shack behind his parents' house. The town's residents believe the boy is possessed, and have asked a local minister to perform an exorcism. After receiving information from Dr. Gentry back in L.A., Rafferty learns that Bobby is suffering from Tourette's Syndrome (involuntary screaming and twitching). With the mother's permission, Rafferty attempts to take the boy back to the hospital for tests -- but the father has strong objections about his son leaving.
This is Rafferty's most unique and memorable episode. First, it is successful in getting Rafferty out of the hospital for almost the entire hour -- something that McGoohan was no doubt pleased with. This story most likely fit in perfectly with his "roving doctor" image of the character. Second, the fact that McGoohan directed this episode is the big draw here. For someone who always preferred to have as much input in the productions he worked on, he no doubt jumped at the chance to direct when possible.
Of the many episodes of television he directed, from his first Danger Man in 1960 to his final Columbo in 2000, his style could change from surreal (The Prisoner's "Fall Out"), to quirky (Columbo's "Last Salute To The Commodore"), to traditional and direct (Secret Agent's "To Our Best Friend", The Prisoner's "Many Happy Returns"). "The Wild Child" definitely falls into the latter category. Any viewer expecting a heady mix of surrealism and allegory will be disappointed.
Instead, McGoohan tells the story in the most straightforward way possible. His direction is smooth and doesn't call attention to itself. He succeeds in establishing a mood of alienation, first as Rafferty explores the town and encounters resistance from the residents who won't discuss Bobby's condition; and later, as he tries to convince everyone that the boy's symptoms are purely medical.
Yet, several notable moments stand out. The first being when Rafferty initially hears the boy's far-off screams coming from the shack -- there is a definite moment of unease. Later, when Rafferty introduces himself to Bobby in an attempt to calm him down, the boy begins screaming again. Rafferty repeats in monotone over the yelling, "Let it out ... let it out. You can stop it, Bobby!", all while trying to diagnose his condition. Both scenes create an eerie, uncomfortable mood that is enhanced by a unique piano and synthesizer score.
Another good sequence is when Rafferty makes his way to the town's empty church, and twice debates with the local minister; first about Bobby's condition, and later, over whether the minister is qualified to carry out an exorcism.
The only misstep is toward the end, once Rafferty tries to convince Bobby's father that the boy should go to the hospital. The story falls into the clichéd, predictable conflict of Rafferty's "modern" medical diagnosis clashing with the "old fashioned" religious views of the father.
Best McGoohan Moment: the woman who runs the local general store tells Rafferty he won't have any more food or a place to stay, and must leave town. Rafferty slowly walks behind the store counter commenting, "Is that the way ya usually treat people in Indigo? Ya starve 'em out, or uh ... exorcise them!" he exclaims, hitting the cash register, causing the bell to ring and the drawer to slam open.
Rafferty's outfit is also memorable. He sports a blue and white striped dress shirt, with a grey fedora. It's a unique appearance that further sets him apart from the town that sees him as an outsider.
Guest stars include K Callen (Martha Kent from Lois And Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman) as Bobby's mother, and Richard Sanders (Les Nessman from WKRP In Cincinnati) as the town minister.
EPISODE 08: WILL TO LIVE
Teleplay by Sue Milburn
Story by Arthur Joel Katz and Sue Milburn
Directed by Edward H. Feldman
Original U.S. Airdate: November 07, 1977
Production No. 166737 (8th filmed)
Rafferty's secretary, Vera, ends up in the hospital with a viral infection that causes her protein levels to spike. When a fellow doctor prescribes too many painkillers instead of searching for a cure, Rafferty objects. He elects to take Vera home and care for her himself. He eventually realizes that she is hiding behind her illness to avoid her life. Meanwhile, Dr. Furey wants to perform an appendectomy on a young woman, but runs into resistance from Dr. Calvin who believes it may be an ovarian disease.
This episode is a mixed bag. While it's an interesting premise to have Vera sick and vulnerable, she acts too out of character. For such a strong person, she gives up too easily, wanting to die by the end of the story. Also puzzling is Rafferty's complete rejection of all hospital care, in favor of taking Vera home. While it's a credit to the writers for presenting a "natural" health treatment (as opposed to pumping a patient full of drugs), you'd think Rafferty would at least exhaust all hospital options before taking Vera home.
McGoohan gives a capable performance, showing enough concern for Vera's condition, yet still keeping Rafferty's aloof distance. Most of his scenes are with Millie Slavin, and it's apparent that the two enjoy each other's company. Slavin's performance works in the frustration she shows of someone in the medical profession being confined to bed as a patient (along with trying to out-guess Rafferty at what he's thinking while treating her). As Rafferty comments, "Nurses make the worst cases. Uncooperative, embarrassed by any sign of weakness -- and fearful."
There's a nice moment during the night when Vera is anxious and can't fall asleep. She asks Rafferty if he knows any songs. After some hesitance, he proceeds to circle the room talking/singing, "I Belong to Glasgow" in a Scottish brogue. McGoohan's "singing" in this scene is reminiscent of his similar duet with Alexis Kanner on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" in Kings And Desperate Men, filmed the same year.
The subplot of Dr. Calvin and Dr. Furey's debate over the latter's patient is forgettable, but it leads to a memorable line by Dr. Calvin. When Furey is performing the appendectomy (with Rafferty's blessing), Calvin quips to McGoohan, "Your disciple is doing his 'Rafferty' imitation -- damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!"
09: WALKING WOUNDED
Written by James Lee
Directed by Arnold Laven
Original U.S. Airdate: November 14, 1977
Production No. 166738 (9th filmed)
Mike Bakersmith, a young doctor Rafferty knows, quits his position at the hospital and soon injures himself in a hang-gliding accident. After hearing him lament about his perceived failure in becoming a world-renowned surgeon (along with plans for more risky hobbies), Rafferty surmises that Bakersmith might be suicidal. Meanwhile, a policeman with a bullet lodged near his spine is informed by Rafferty that, after seven years, the area is now infected and an operation must be performed to remove the bullet. Finally, Rafferty discovers that a teenaged gymnast is suffering from anorexia nervosa, which is threatening both her physical and emotional well-being.
A good episode -- nothing brilliant, but no cringe-inducing scenes either. The three storylines are equally balanced throughout the hour, while McGoohan turns in another nice performance. If the series had maintained this quality, McGoohan might've been happier and the series could've lasted longer. Again, it's too bad this episode didn't air earlier in the run. For casual viewers, it would have made a better introduction to the series.
The subplot of a policeman in pain due a bullet in his back is yet another striking similarity to the David Janssen series Harry O, also produced by Jerry Thorpe. The premise of the show was that Harry made his living as a private eye, and often lived in pain due to a bullet lodged near his spine -- the result of a shootout that caused him to retire from the police force. James Lee must have written this story as a nod to his executive producer's previous series.
Ron Rifkin (Husbands And Wives, L.A. Confidential, Alias) guest-stars as Dr. Bakersmith. And, believe it or not, there's a direct connection between The Prisoner and the 1986 hit song "Take My Breath Away." The young gymnast in this episode is played by 16-year-old Terri Nunn, later the lead singer of the pop group Berlin. She began her career as an actress, appearing in other late-seventies/early-eighties programs such as Lou Grant, Vega$ and T.J. Hooker.
NO YESTERDAY AND NO TOMORROW
Teleplay by James Menzies
Story by Rift Fournier
Directed by Arnold Laven
Original U.S. Airdate: Never aired.
Production No. 166739 (10th filmed)
After blacking out while driving, a man (Paul Bennett) is reluctant to submit to hospital tests or to divulge any medical history to Dr. Gentry. It turns out that Bennett and his wife are in the Witness Protection Program after having testified against a mobster wanted for embezzlement. The government agents guarding Bennett believe that any investigation into his medical past by Dr. Gentry will endanger Bennett's cover. However, Bennett is in need of brain surgery due to an aneurysm, and any time spent postponing the operation brings him closer to death.
This is a very good episode that belongs to John Getz, taking over the lead as Dr. Dan Gentry (as a special title at the beginning informs us). He does an excellent job, carrying the story with a relaxed and likeable air. He does his best to help his patient, while dealing with the federal agents who are overprotective of their star witness. Getz is so good, in fact, that the series could have continued with him as the star after McGoohan moved on. We get an intriguing hint that the show (with some retooling) could have come back as Gentry -- and might have worked.
In an amusing lack of continuity between stories, this episode finds Dan happily flirting with a new lady in his life. He bounced back awfully fast from his last girlfriend, who was diagnosed with a terminal disease just six episodes ago!
McGoohan is gone for most of the hour, thus making this episode the Rafferty equivalent of "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling." He has a brief scene in the beginning however, when Rafferty breaks the news to a nervous patient that his excruciating foot pain is being caused by a "classic case" of ... gout.
James B. Sikking (Hill Street Blues; Star Trek III) guest-stars as one of the government agents.
EPISODE 11: THE PRICE OF PAIN
Written by John Meredyth Lucas
Directed by Arnold Laven
Original U.S. Airdate: Never aired.
Production No. 166740 (11th filmed)
Rafferty saves the life of an actress after her car overturns. During her hospital stay, the police become suspicious about the source of her past pain medication, causing Rafferty to think she may be a drug addict. Meanwhile, a nurse's aide from the hospital finds a young woman badly beaten in the park. Once under Rafferty's care, the victim remains in a coma with her identity still unknown.
Another "monstrous piece of garbage." Just when the series looked like it was improving, it stumbles with another weak outing. The premises of both stories are acceptable, but the entire production suffers from dull writing and direction in another hospital-bound episode. McGoohan seems uninterested in the proceedings. He plays Rafferty at his most clipped and cantankerous. His performance must be seen to be believed. The rhythm of many scenes is off-kilter, as he takes his time with several strange pauses and inflections in his delivery, while the rest of the cast appear to hurry through their lines. The awkward pacing and seriousness with which the actors treat such weak material, seems tailor-made for comedy treatment by the likes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
In a nice bit of continuity, the nurse's aide (Melissa) who finds the woman in the park, was first seen in "The Epidemic", impressing a nurse with how knowledgeable she was about the hospital disaster manual.
Best McGoohan Moment: when a police sergeant accuses Rafferty of interfering with the law, Rafferty shoots back, "Me, interfering with the law? With a name like Rafferty!? I grew up with half the police force having Sunday lunch in our kitchen! You were interfering with a patient!"
Bruce Kirby plays the sergeant. He appeared in many episodes of Columbo, including two of McGoohan's best as guest-murderer and director: "Identity Crisis" (1975) and "Agenda For Murder" (1990).
12: THE BURNING MAN
Written by Sue Milburn
Directed by Barry Crane
Original U.S. Airdate: Never aired.
Production No. 166741 (12th filmed)
While fighting a raging wildfire, several Native American firemen fall ill. Rafferty travels to the firefighter's camp where he discovers they are suffering from pneumonic plague. He attempts to treat them, but meets resistance from both the Indians and the other firefighters.
Another average, yet forgettable episode. Like "A Point Of View", the story has a good premise, but misses the mark by not knowing in which direction to go. The Indians helping the firefighters seem to want to rebel against them several times; there are references made to the Indians having been forced off their land in the recent past; and the head firefighter angrily tries to do things his way in fighting the blaze. This includes leaving Rafferty stranded overnight at the Indians' house -- right in the path of the fire! All of this results in a muddled episode. It's a shame too, since the subplots logically grow out of the main story of the wildfire. This is a nice departure from the usual two-to-three unrelated subplots per episode.
Rafferty (and by extension, McGoohan) again seems bored. At this point in the show's production, he was probably fed up and ready to move on. A plus, however, is that Rafferty gets out of the hospital again. Writer Sue Milburn (who also penned "The Wild Child") must have known about McGoohan's "roving doctor" idea, so she made an effort to craft such episodes accordingly.
There are a few notable moments. After confirming that the ill victims are suffering from the plague, a firefighter says, "The plague went out with the Dark Ages." Rafferty snaps back, "We're still in the Dark Ages!"
Later, an elderly Indian woman lets Rafferty treat a sick man after her natural medicine has failed:
your medicine always work?" he asks.
"No," she replies. "Does yours?"
"No." Rafferty admits. "We haven't come far, have we?"
And when a young Indian man continually refuses Rafferty's help in treating his illness, Rafferty remarks, "You're one of the most stubborn men I've ever met. You sure you're not half-Irish?"
DEATH OUT OF A BLUE SKY
Written by Robert Van Scoyk
Directed by Barry Crane
Original U.S. Airdate: November 28, 1977 (Final episode aired)
Production No. 166742 (13th and final episode filmed)
After the husband of one of his patients dies in a single-engine plane crash, Rafferty begins an investigation into the cause of the accident. Was it health-related or suicide? All clues point to the latter, since the man's business was failing and he seemed despondent. Meanwhile, a pushy insurance agent threatens to withhold paying the widow if the reason turns out to be suicide. Rafferty, however, persists in believing the cause was medical.
Things take a bit of an upward swing for the final episode. The only story written by co-producer Robert Van Scoyk, it is a confident, capable installment, that shows the amount of unused potential the series had. While hardly brilliant, the hour is full of decent drama, with an intriguing mystery to boot. As in "The Epidemic", Rafferty takes on the role of detective, thus getting him out of the hospital again. Except for two brief scenes at City General, Rafferty spends the episode either outdoors, or visiting several fine houses (much like Lt. Columbo, who you keep expecting Rafferty to bump into at any moment). As a result, this is one of the more visually unique episodes of the series. It makes one realize how claustrophobic the hospital corridors become after a while.
Another plus is the presence of only one story, without other subplots to distract from it. In real life, a doctor probably wouldn't concern himself with such an investigation (the man has already died, after all), but for the purpose of this episode, it works. This is another candidate for the "roving doctor" premise -- McGoohan was definitely on to a good idea. It's too bad the series couldn't have continued in this vein.
McGoohan goes out on a good note acting-wise. He plays Rafferty quiet and determined, only resorting to his high-pitched, clipped delivery a few times -- usually when annoyed or trying to prove a point. Next to "The Cutting Edge" and "Walking Wounded", this is one of his better performances. It makes for a fitting end to the series.
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