THE UNMUTUAL PRISONER ARTICLE ARCHIVE
U.S. REPORTS & REVIEWS (1966-1985)
By Tom Mayer
As we work our way through the early 21st century, it is obvious how the digital age has impacted personal and public communication. It seems that everyone's opinions are put forth everywhere, from social media feeds to personal blogs to website buyer-reviews. In terms of popular culture, this can be difficult, especially if such opinions concern any current film, television or music that a prospective viewer or listener might be interested in sampling. Since the rise of DVDs and online-streaming over the last two decades, entire television series can be watched quickly at the viewer's convenience, and afterward, said viewer can post their opinions or engage in debates on any number of social media. For every professional review, there's an untold number of people "off the street" airing their views in chat rooms or on customer review pages. It is now commonplace for plot spoilers, cast changes or controversial final episodes of every television series to be deconstructed by professional critics and casual fans alike. Many current and recent programs, including Breaking Bad, Lost, and Game of Thrones have been subjected to this type of dual criticism their entire existence. While there's nothing inherently wrong with this over-analysis, how does a discerning viewer separate informed (i.e. "professional") opinions from less-informed (i.e. "amateur"), especially when confronted with a seemingly endless stream of information? And which of these opinions should be considered more "authentic?"
If we turn our attention
to the pre-internet/pre-digital age, we see that newspaper articles and reviews
were the main sources then for audiences to acquire information about their
favorite programs and films. Anyone gathering news about their favorite actor
or series could feel secure in the knowledge that what they were reading was
from a professional journalist "in the know" and not just anybody
airing their opinion though an easily available medium. The numerous television
series that pre-date the digital era are unique in that they have been documented
in two distinct historical phases. Initially, these series were reviewed solely
by professional journalists, then (after the onset of the digital age) have
since been re-examined and debated by fans through websites and social media.
The longtime "cult" programs that fall into this group include, among
others, the original Star Trek, its Next Generation sequel,
The Avengers, Twin Peaks and, of course, The Prisoner.
From about 1977 through today, The Prisoner has been subjected to a forty-year period of examination and debate by way of books, magazines and websites, as well as exposure through TV reruns, home video releases and online streaming. This is not to suggest that this barrage of attention has been in any way negative. Thanks to this treatment, the program has been continually available for even the most casual viewer to search out, while its history and production have been thoroughly documented. That the series has "survived intact and secure" after years of intense scrutiny is a testament to the brilliance of Patrick McGoohan and his colleagues' vision and hard work.
Sometimes though, even the best of intentions can result in a hardening of the arteries so to speak. The earliest impressions and reactions to any source can become buried under layers of new opinions or obscured in a haze of nostalgia. The period following The Prisoner's initial filming in 1966 to the formation of its official fan club in 1977 represents sort of a "pure" era, in which almost everything said about the series came from a professional point of view. Decades later, this time span deserves a closer look, if only to see what was said about the series long before the grip of nostalgia, fan debates and interactive media. After all, an Amazon review or Facebook posting from a twenty-something viewer who just discovered the series in 2015 might be radically different from (or surprisingly similar to) an article written by a forty-something television critic racing to meet a deadline in 1968. Once we recognize this difference in time and knowledge, we may very well ask, "What DID contemporary audiences and critics think about The Prisoner when it first aired?"
Today, thanks to online news archives (as well as visits to one's library to access traditional reels of microfilm), it has become fairly easy to piece together a representative portrait of how contemporary audiences were introduced to (and what they thought about) the series, from the announcement of its initial filming in 1966 to its afterlife in reruns by the 1970s. The majority of this information hasn't been read in several decades, and now seems an appropriate time to examine it as the series approaches its fiftieth anniversary. The following essay was compiled from contemporary American newspapers and magazines featuring critical reviews, industry press reports, episode synopses and interviews with those involved with the program. As a result, this information provides a unique insight into how critics and viewers acknowledged the impact of this classic series upon its original U.S. screening. (Since I live in the United States, it is obviously easiest for me to research the reviews of The Prisoner from the time of its American premiere in June 1968. Perhaps a reader of this article from across the Pond would be inspired to document the original UK reviews of the series?)
In January 1966, the New York Times featured an article on Patrick McGoohan while he was deep in production on the final thirteen episodes of Secret Agent (Danger Man in the UK). While there was no mention of any future projects, the article contained some pieces of information that are interesting in hindsight. The write-up remarked how McGoohan "prefers television's rapid, constant production pace to that of theater and films," and that he thinks "his Secret Agent experience has given him an expert's knowledge of TV; he has directed occasional episodes and helped on script revision." The article also noted he was considering starring in a film version of Ibsen's Brand, as well as possibly returning to the theater, but "whatever he does next," the piece tellingly concluded, "he vows that he will have 'at least 51 percent' control over it."1
What McGoohan did next, of course, was The Prisoner. As the series went into preproduction shortly after the end of Secret Agent, news about the actor's latest project circulated within the entertainment industry. In what is possibly the first mention of the series in North American newspapers, a syndicated article from June 1966 began with the news that Secret Agent was indeed over, except for occasional reruns, and that "the stylish star of the show, Patrick McGoohan, is expected to begin shooting a new series in Britain in September, and . . . the fact that it will be filmed in color indicates that the program has the American market in mind." McGoohan was quoted as saying the lead character will be a departure from his old spy role, but will still require "plenty of guts and action." The article said in closing that (apart from this scant information), "McGoohan flatly refuses to discuss the program at the present time." 2
A month later, the first
in-depth information on the series appeared in a remarkable article by UPI reporter
Robert Musel. He interviewed McGoohan in the latter's office at MGM Borehamwood
Studios while in pre-production for the show. Musel said it took "a bit
of negotiation" to get in to see McGoohan, but the actor "was excited
enough about [the new series'] possibilities to forget the 15-minute limit he
usually imposes on questioners." Musel said the actor "had only just
crystallized the conception of his new series . . . and if he manages to bring
off before the camera the many facets of drama he sees in its basic situation,
The Prisoner may be one of the more gratifying TV successes of 1967."
Musel described the program as "an effort to take the curious world of
counter espionage into a new and deeper dimension."
At this time the exact number of episodes hadn't been decided upon, but it was estimated to be between 13 and 30 installments. "The trouble with television is that it takes an idea and milks it to death," McGoohan said. "They keep it going until they're scraping the barrel for plots -- we did 86 Secret Agents and we went through the bottom of the barrel. But The Prisoner will be different." McGoohan explained how each episode would be self-contained, yet part of a larger continuing story; and that it will be "absolutely essential" for viewers to watch the first episode. He made the surprising announcement that "we are going to publish ['Arrival'] as a book and anyone who misses it and who is intrigued by later episodes can get the book and read all the basic information." After explaining the show's premise in detail, McGoohan wrapped up stating, ". . . as star and producer and even writer of some of the scripts of The Prisoner, I'll have only myself to blame if it's a lousy show. And that's the way I like it."
What is amazing is the date which Musel's article appeared -- Monday, July 25. This was three months after the April 30 U.S. screening of "The Not So Jolly Roger" (the final black-&-white episode of Secret Agent), and a mere six weeks prior to the start of The Prisoner's filming in Portmeirion on September 5. It is astounding, in retrospect, that all of this information appeared in one article before even a frame of film had been shot for the series. Also notable is the mention of the filming location itself, which was kept secret during production: "The drama will go on in a village in Wales built as an architectural whimsy by a wealthy man. It's a fantastic mélange of styles -- Grecian temples and thatched cottages, turreted villas. McGoohan starts filming there in September."4 (Due to differences between syndicated printings, this intriguing sentence was missing in some versions of Musel's article.)
The next notable bit of information appeared in an October press release by CBS. After announcing upcoming variety programs for the Smothers Brothers and Carol Burnett, the release stated "the network recently purchased a British adventure series titled The Prisoner. The series stars Patrick McGoohan of Secret Agent and consists of 17 hour shows in color."5 Despite decades of debate among Prisoner fans and historians about how many installments the series was intended to consist of, this announcement proves that the eventual number of episodes was confirmed as early as the fall of 1966 -- during filming of the first four stories, no less.
The following February, reporter Clay Gowran of Chicago provided further information on the series, calling it "one of the biggest question marks of the coming video season." He reported that "readers who have merely seen it mentioned have written in by the dozens for information, [while] others telephone, wanting to know what the program will be about, when it begins, and so forth." To provide answers for the curious public, Gowran landed a thirty-minute interview with Michael Dann, then current vice-president in charge of programming for CBS. Gowran said the conversation about the series and its star, "easily the most sophisticated and articulate undercover operative ever to reach the home screens, might prove interesting to McGoohanites."
Among the information gleaned,
was that Dann "committed CBS to purchase at least 17 episodes of the series,
a multi-million dollar deal, just on the strength of reading one Prisoner
script," and after he viewed "Arrival," was convinced
that "this will be the most talked-about series ever when it goes on the
air -- it's the most amazing thing I've ever seen in 19 years of programming."
Calling the show "a [very strange] sequel to Secret Agent in a
way," Dann discussed the series' premise, the question of which side runs
The Village, and McGoohan's refusal to provide any answers. "I know this
all sounds weird," he admitted, "but wait until you see this thing.
I've been in programming 19 years, and it's the most exciting, brilliant production
I've come across." Dann also acknowledged the viewer reaction when Secret
Agent ended its run the year before. He said the network received protest
letters and phone calls "from people who don't look at much other television
. . . not the heavy viewer, but the occasional, highly selective viewer,"
all of whom made "well thought-out, not emotional, carefully constructed
arguments of keeping Secret Agent on the air." When Gowran said
the cancellation made many people angry, Dann replied, "Well, don't forget
I've made it possible for viewers to see McGoohan in two series. The first was
. . . Secret Agent, and now I've bought The Prisoner."
It was now a year after the initial announcement of the series' filming, and viewers were getting curious. Mrs. "D.E.H." of California wrote her local paper inquiring, "Sometime ago, I read that Patrick McGoohan will be starring in a new show this fall for CBS entitled The Prisoner. Is this true?" The staff at the paper apparently didn't do enough research. "CBS says it has no such series as The Prisoner in production for the coming season," they inaccurately responded, "nor is Patrick McGoohan to be featured in any of its other series this fall. Checks with both NBC and ABC brought identical answers. So, if Mr. McGoohan is employed at the moment the information eludes us."7 Indeed it did.
By the end of the summer, however, there was no lack of information on the series since it was about to premiere in both the UK and Canada. Ivor Davis reported from London where he provided U.S. audiences with the latest news on the show. He warned that The Prisoner "may be a tremendous flop. Not because the weekly adventure yarn is unimaginative or too ordinary, but for a very different reason: It may be too original." Davis mentioned McGoohan's return to the UK after filming Ice Station Zebra in Hollywood, whereupon the actor resumed "working sixteen hours a day" on the new series, which Davis called "a shocking and refreshingly new type of 60-minute thriller." He believed the program to be "one of the most unusual serials ever made for television," adding if the overall premise "appears flimsy, the episodes are not. The show will either have an enormous impact on the TV-watching public or fall flat on its face." His explanation: "Because it is a thinking man's show, and may prove too sophisticated." 8
1968: U.S. PREMIERE & REVIEWS
While the UK screening of The Prisoner was an integral part of its history, the American premiere was just as important, since it was Mike Dann's agreement with Lew Grade that led to ITC's sale of the series to CBS. After securing such a high-profile broadcast, CBS had much invested in the show and was understandably concerned about how it would be received. Additionally, the program would be seen by a much larger audience than in the UK, with the potential of reaching some 25-50 million viewers. In an amusing decision by the network, they scheduled the series as a summer replacement for The Jackie Gleason Show. The iconic comedian, famous for his sitcom staple The Honeymooners, was still a big ratings draw and the network evidently felt confident giving his timeslot over to McGoohan's new project. Gleason's traditional audience of family viewers accustomed to a night of comedy and variety were in for a surprise if they decided to sample The Prisoner! Regardless, the series' premiere was set for Saturday, June 1, and several critics were looking forward to it, as we shall see.
To put in context the era in which The Prisoner premiered, an examination of the TV schedule for the summer of 1968 reveals what American viewers (and critics) were watching at the time. Situation comedies were extremely popular, especially The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, Green Acres, The Lucy Show and The Beverly Hillbillies. Westerns were still big in the ratings as evidenced by Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, The Virginian and Bonanza, while crime/police dramas included The F.B.I., Mannix, N.Y.P.D. and Dragnet 1968. Science fiction/adventure series included Star Trek, The Invaders, Lost In Space, Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea and The Wild, Wild West; while the spy genre (of which The Prisoner was no doubt considered a part) consisted of Mission: Impossible, The Avengers, It Takes A Thief and I Spy. As for The Prisoner, it aired on Saturdays from 7:30 to 8:30 as an almost incompatible lead-in for the sitcoms My Three Sons, Hogan's Heroes and Petticoat Junction. Apparently, the network had no idea how to market the show in terms of its unique style and premise -- perhaps they looked upon it merely as the latest spy adventure starring the guy from Secret Agent. Interestingly, the series was in direct ratings competition with another UK import from Lew Grade's ITC stable -- The Saint with Roger Moore was airing on NBC at the same time. 9
The industry standard
Variety ran a review the previous October, when one of their overseas correspondents
saw "Arrival" while in the UK. "This successor to Danger
Man deserves full marks for its boldness and daring in trying to break
out of the formulas of packaged thick-ear stuff," the write-up stated.
"The format . . . is intriguing to the mind, and the concept lends itself
to intelligent development as a comment on modern living," adding "it's
the novelty of the [premise] that is the main attraction and . . . it looks
like a breakthrough into an imaginative area somewhere between George Orwell
and science-fiction."10 Eight months later, as the
series premiered in the U.S., Variety reviewed it again, quoting liberally
from its earlier piece, while citing the social unrest brewing throughout the
summer of 1968. They said the series "could have a special appeal to America's
rebellious young as McGoohan, a resigned top government official, does battle
with an abstract and sinister establishment." The positive words continued,
stating the "scripting, direction and editing did a good job of conveying
The Village's surface peace and sinister underbelly," while McGoohan "was
consistently strong in agitation and [his co-stars'] support was excellent throughout."
The magazine summed up the program as "a noteworthy addition to the entertainment
roster if subsequent segments don't sink into pulp melodrama." 11
From late-May throughout June, many articles appeared in local and national newspapers, with the majority of reviews being positive. A syndicated piece boldly stated "the individual stamp of Patrick McGoohan reverberates again on TV," as "the enigmatic, energetic U.S.-born Irishman" produces and stars in the new series described as "unconventional, packed with action, suspense, thrills and mystery." Their praise continued: "There is nothing bland about The Prisoner," where "traditional TV drama forms explode in . . . an imaginative flair, [in which] a psychedelic climate, wild, unusual settings, characters and story . . . stretch the outer limits of TV." McGoohan was described as a "hero antagonist -- offering the viewer an opportunity to think, as well as merely observe." 12
Chicago critic Dean Gysel was a strong proponent of the series early on. "Pardon my great expectations," he gushed, "but Patrick McGoohan returns to television . . . [as] the greatest secret agent of them all replaces Jackie Gleason this summer." Gysel thought "if even half the advance publicity is true . . . The Prisoner will not be a routine fill-in. The British series is an enigma that has dismayed and outraged tele-viewers across the great water."13 Two months later, he gladly admitted he was enjoying the show, saying "of all the summer [TV] entertainment, [it's] the only series worth staying home for." While he was frustrated to see No.6 fail at escaping each week, he nevertheless thought McGoohan was "not the perpetual loser we feared. He foils his captor's plots to brainwash him in a brisk battle of ingenuity." Gysel also put forth his theory on which side runs The Village. Its operators "do not have loyalties to a flag or a bloc of countries, but to the game," he proposed. "The Village, I believe, is run on a pool basis by all countries. In this environment, democracy and communism are meaningless, antiquated [political-science] terms. Here, conformity and order are the maxims." He summed up that the program "demands and rewards viewers' attention, [while] other summer series were made with quick attention spans in mind." 14 Gysel sadly died in a car accident a year later in July 1969, and therefore never got to witness the legacy and lasting appreciation of a series he helped champion early in its existence. 15
Harold Schindler was another critic who was looking forward to the show. "More British are coming! More British are coming," he exclaimed. "And in the case of American television -- they're mighty welcome. Six hours of prime 'telly' time each week are occupied by English-based productions, and most of them are a good cut above U.S. programs for imagination and interest." He was underwhelmed with The Champions and Showtime, but thoroughly enjoyed The Avengers, The Saint and Man In A Suitcase, stating "[these other shows] are simply smashing, bloody good and all that, [but] Patrick McGoohan's thriller The Prisoner is the best of the lot." He then pleaded with those in charge: "Any concern on the part of network moguls with this show should be in getting McGoohan's commitment to another series since The Prisoner will wrap up in 17 segments, period -- no extensions." 16
When Schindler finally saw The Prisoner, though, he seemed initially disappointed. "For viewers who tune in television drama in search of a few moments of relaxation and entertainment," he observed, "the added effort of unraveling a mishmash of symbolism can be disturbingly irritating. It becomes absolutely exasperating when the drama is carried off well. This is one of the frustrations of The Prisoner [which is] destined to provoke grumblings from its audiences." He felt the program "could be a logical sequel to Secret Agent," yet "leaves many questions unanswered and this is apparently what McGoohan had in mind from the start." Schindler relented though, admitting, "Whatever the inner meanings, McGoohan has presented a highly unconventional and provocative hour. Thousands of Britons talked about the show and tens of thousands thought about it [after its UK screening]. Any program which stirs intelligent thought is worth viewing -- The Prisoner certainly is that." He confidently concluded, "The opinion of critics in England seemed to be, 'Patrick McGoohan has forcefully shaken the viewing public out of its state of lethargy.' More power to him!" 17
Rick Du Brow quickly zeroed in on the main theme of individualism, calling the program "a sort of futuristic horror-spy melodrama" that is "the closest thing a television series has come to creating the world of '1984.'" He noted how the Village community "is planned down to the last horrible detail, [and that] television entertainment has yet to make a more devastating comment against collectivism, insipid togetherness, statism and communal living. Ayn Rand may well love The Prisoner, but so will a lot of other people if the style continues." He felt once the viewer has spent time in the Village with No.6, "suddenly the thought of freedom is like a tonic. The sight of this permanent retirement village for human beings is positively nauseating, as intended. One gets the creeps looking at the stereotypes of scared conformists who aren't that far removed from today." He emphatically wrapped up: "Television has never had anything quite like The Prisoner. Or Mr. McGoohan for that matter." 18
Joyce Wagner liked the show as well, calling it "another super-adventure series that, judging from the premiere segment, promises to be greatly talked about in weeks to come," and noting how the program "blends imaginative sets and tightly written scripts with ingenious gadgetry and fast-paced action." She called the "chilly-eyed" McGoohan "an interesting, if not excellent, actor [who] manages to bring an aura of believability to an hour of otherwise incredible happenings." Wagner reported the series' premise "is considered by many in the [TV] industry as a personal protest by McGoohan against increasing regimentation of the individual by modern society," and that the star, "not known for his lengthy commentary, has steadfastly refused to explain, defend or change" the program. This, along with the "infuriated" reaction of UK viewers, "makes The Prisoner one of the most extraordinary and, certainly, one of the most intriguing series to be telecast in this country." 19
Not every critic thought highly of the program, however. With The Prisoner, by nature, being such an uncompromising show, it was inevitable there would be negative opinions as well. Jack Gould of the New York Times seemed ambivalent when he said McGoohan "has concocted a lavishly produced exercise in obscurity, something to do with a counterintelligence operation in an island village that is a model for a rest home in 1984." He warned viewers that they should pay attention and not drift off under the assumption that the series was mindless summer entertainment: "In the absence of any appreciable detail as to what The Prisoner is all about, Mr. McGoohan requires a viewer to work as hard as he does, which is an odd approach to relaxing the set-owner in preparation for his [TV-watching] labors next fall." 20
Meanwhile, Associated Press writer Cynthia Lowry was taken aback by the series, giving it a harsh review. "There's been psychedelic comedies, variety shows and even commercials," she noted. "Now it seems there's a psychedelic action-adventure series." She thought McGoohan's presence was "just about the nicest thing one can say about [the program]. He is still the chilly-eyed, intrepid daredevil of his old Secret Agent series, but he's in the middle of a new format that is really something else." Comparing the series to The Fugitive (which had ended its run the year before), she said "the obvious flaw is that, from the viewer's standpoint, each week the Prisoner winds up the loser. At least the Fugitive managed to elude his pursuers and keep running at the end of each episode." She felt once The Prisoner had established its premise, it became "an exercise in electronic gimmickry" where "the hour seemed like one period of frustration and . . . confusion about what was going on." She admitted "the production values, however, were high -- the sets were handsome and elaborate and it was interestingly filmed," but remained unimpressed, lamenting that "watching the summer replacement was rather like being caught up in a nightmare." 21
Stewart Allen was similarly underwhelmed, stating "The Prisoner may turn out to be more provocative, if not more hopeless, than what is offered us on the regular schedule," adding "[the series'] peculiarity is that the journalistic provisions of most shows -- like who, what, when, where and why -- are missing." Alluding to McGoohan's role on Secret Agent, Allen said the star again "plays another spy of sorts, except that all the wheels are spinning in reverse," as the premiere episode "starts gathering the clouds" once McGoohan quits his job. "The resignation [scene] itself is a bit much to do to even the nastiest employer," Allen quipped. "Pat storms his boss' office as though it were the Bastille, pounds the desk, and exits in a gale of melodrama. But the sequence sets up the show's techniques of sassy jazz, agile camera work and stiff-upper-lip scenes that are edited with a meat cleaver." Detailing No.6's arrival in The Village, Allen remarked, ". . . McGoohan is being held captive by his former employer who thinks our hero knows too much to be allowed to quit like that. The perils of unemployment are, as you can see, considerable." He labeled The Village "a Fellini landscape," wryly describing No.6's new surroundings as "pretty fountains, pretty houses, pretty scenery and pretty girls who float around the gardens with psychedelic parasols. In fact the images throughout make one suspect that what was pumped through McGoohan's keyhole was a finely vaporized measure of LSD." Allen was also bothered as to why McGoohan was in such a hurry to leave, thinking "if you're out of work there are worse places to take a breather." However, as he signed off, he relented a bit admitting, "The Prisoner is an imaginative flurry of stylish adventure and color." 22
More dislike of the series came from George Eres, who gave a detailed critique of "The General" on July 16. He said the program "is causing considerable consternation among viewers who are both attracted and confused," with the confusion "[stemming] from the fact that, in the four or so segments aired thus far, there is a lot of sci-fi gimmickry but not much story. Each week has been pretty repetitious." Recalling "the efforts to defeat the Industrial Revolution in the old days (and even today) by smashing the machines," Eres questioned the General's destruction at the end of the episode. "I am in favor of computers," he confessed. "Especially a kind which can feed 300 years of history into me painlessly in 30 seconds. I will gladly become a guinea pig for this sort of indoctrination." He thought technology and materialism should be utilized "in moderation with due respect to human needs," and that he "[doesn't] see anything wrong in getting the facts as painlessly as possible so that I can have the information on which to make judgments, such as they are," adding, "The Prisoner has now joined the untold number of TV shows which has a good idea, but is taking the easy way out: you smash the machines." He then claimed he fed the question "WHY?" into one of his computers at work, and it snapped back the response: "Machines should work. People should think. You're fired." 23
Legendary Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham threw in her two cents as well -- she was a big fan of the star, but not his show. "Memo to Pat McGoohan," she announced. "Come back to Secret Agent and all will be forgiven. The new series, The Prisoner, is too vague, too fey, and simply doesn't go anywhere. What a waste of a secret agent!" 24 A few months later, she caught a preview of Ice Station Zebra, where she thought his "mystery British agent" performance was "more like his Danger Man and Secret Agent roles," but concluded that, "Pat McGoohan addicts -- I am one of them -- will forget his disastrous TV series, The Prisoner." 25
While fan clubs, conventions and websites dedicated to the series were still many years away, a number of viewers managed to make their opinions known through one available forum: letters to newspapers and magazines. The syndicated column "TV Key Mailbag" printed several fans' reactions: "I am absolutely fascinated by the new TV series, The Prisoner," wrote Mrs. "H.M." of Norwalk, Connecticut. "I will not pretend to know what it's all about but that doesn't detract from its interest for me and my family." Mrs. "H.S." of Jacksonville, Florida thought, "The Prisoner is the greatest TV series since The Twilight Zone. I have never been so baffled and intrigued by a show . . . what can we do to have it on permanently?" Finally, Mr. "A.W." of Paterson, New Jersey remarked, "The Prisoner is TV drama at its best. And Patrick McGoohan ought to give lessons on acting to some of our American cream-puffs and pretty boys who pass themselves off as actors." These viewers also expressed concern about the short run of this "new hit of the summer" and asked if it would continue for another season. "Our mailbag is filled with questions about the show and its star," the paper responded. "Unfortunately, the show is slated to run only through the summer and will not be back in the fall. Fans may write to CBS expressing their keen interest in the series but I must warn you that it would probably amount to very little." 26
Several viewers contacted TV Guide magazine as well. Cynthia Holz of Rockaway, New York thought, "The Prisoner is the best thing that's happened to television in a long time. It is sophisticated, thoughtful and unique," while Lisa Blake of Stanton, Michigan outright criticized the programs of her home country. "With the exception of a few, the best shows now coming to us seem to be not of U.S. making," she said. "Secret Agent, The Avengers, The Saint, The Prisoner and especially The Champions are (or were) my 'must see' programs. Come on! Let's get with it, U.S. TV!" 27 In a similar vein, TV Guide ran an article a year later which debated whether Britain or America made the better films and television. Cathy Lynn Becker of Worth, Illinois responded by defending the Brits. "Your August 9 editorial concerning the better quality of TV in England couldn't be more true. All you have to do is watch Secret Agent or The Prisoner or an English movie and you will see the better acting and the better script material." 28
Then viewer Steve Harris of Anaheim, California expressed his disappointment over the programs and actors that recently received award nominations. "I have but one comment concerning this year's Emmy nominations -- ho hum! Never has so much trivia been nominated for so many categories," he complained. "One question to the Academy -- what happened to The Prisoner? It was the first series in years that had something meaningful to say, whether you believed it or not. And it padded its message with a most diverting and unusual storyline. It seems that Patrick McGoohan keeps giving the finest performances on the tube, but is constantly ignored." 29 (Hopefully, Mr. Harris felt vindicated when McGoohan later won Emmys in 1975 and 1990, both for his work on Columbo.)
Also notable are the individual episode reviews that appeared throughout the show's screening. Decades later, these write-ups provide an interesting insight into which installments of the series critics felt worthy of highlighting, as well as what they thought in particular about any one story. "TV Scout" was a syndicated column that appeared in many papers, and while its write-ups were never credited to any one author, whoever wrote them thought highly enough about The Prisoner to single out many episodes throughout its run.
"The Chimes Of Big Ben" was lauded for "superb photography, an ingenious and imaginative plot, together with an excellent cast, [that engages] your complete attention," while "the gingerbread village, switched on by smiling jailors . . . runs like electronically-wired clockwork, goading The Prisoner into another attempted escape." 30 They likewise praised "A, B & C," saying that "The Prisoner comes up with a dandy science-fiction premise which manages to get much of the action out of The Village and into a Parisian locale," also calling that week's No.2 "well-played by Colin Gordon." 31 During a later rerun, they lavished additional praise upon the episode, proclaiming it "one of the most intriguing, imaginative pieces of science-fiction coupled with cloak-and-dagger action that TV has ever presented. Don't miss this episode, but pay close attention to its plot subtleties . . . [the way] McGoohan turns the tables is very clever." 32
They were ambivalent about "Free For All" however, thinking the story had "a very good idea which doesn't quite sustain itself and leaves you wondering about the point. But it's still fun to watch thanks to fine acting from [McGoohan and Eric Portman]." (They also thought the final beating of No.6 was "one of the show's few excursions into physical violence," but there is no indication of how they later felt about the equally rough fight scenes in "It's Your Funeral", "A Change of Mind" and "Hammer Into Anvil.") A second paper singled out "Free For All" a week before the series premiered, stating "the hollow ring of 'free elections' is explored in one of the more sardonic episodes of The Prisoner;" 34 while a third source labeled the surreal election a "strange premise for a series, but well done." 35
On August 17, TV Scout liked "Checkmate," saying "while the ending [of No.6's escape attempt] is self-evident, the acting by [McGoohan, Peter Wyngarde and Patricia Jessel] is so good, and the photography so excellent, you will be completely absorbed." 36 The episode was also praised by a New York paper that stated, "Fans who've caught the spirit and enjoy the satirical punch of this computer-age adventure series, will be intrigued again by the imaginative rigmarole of an 'Alice In Wonderland' human chess game on view tonight," adding it doesn't matter that viewers know the latest escape attempt will fail, but "what does matter is the top-notch production and suspenseful attention to detail." 37 "A Change Of Mind" was labeled, "a slick piece of science-fiction in which Patrick McGoohan is more menaced than in any other episode so far." The write-up praised "the highly suspenseful scene" involving the fake lobotomy performed on No.6, adding "there are a couple of kickers in the plot, and they are well worth the wait to the end." 38 They also liked "Hammer Into Anvil," calling it "an absorbing episode . . . a bit more single-minded than usual, but still the slickest psychological snow job since Angel Street [a.k.a. Gaslight]." 39
Apparently nothing but repeats were airing on September 7, when "The Girl Who Was Death" was singled out as "the night's lone new program." Schnipps' plan to blow up London was considered "as mad as it is ambitious," while the episode overall was said to be "terribly gimmicky, but well acted." 40 Another paper, however, was unrelenting in its enthusiasm, stating "The Prisoner has a classic of the small screen and you are warned not to miss a minute of this absorbing show." They called the story "a real puzzle" with "lots of purposeful incongruities . . . and you'll be mystified as to what is really occurring in this sometimes surrealistic setting." They sealed their praise by summing up: "The climax is completely unpredictable and completely right. Not a letdown anywhere here." 41 (Fans reading those words today would be amused at seeing so much praise for an episode that, for decades, has been considered the most lightweight outing of the series.)
As the final episodes were airing by late-summer, a syndicated article about Portmeirion surprisingly appeared. "Penryhndeudraeth may not seem analogous to anything in The Prisoner," the piece said, "but indeed it is." The history of The Village was recounted along with a mention of its famous guests, including George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Noel Coward. "When I realized Portmeirion was so popular with the likes of these men," the article quoted McGoohan, "I realized it certainly could offer us something." He elaborated on the location's mystique: "You have to know of Portmeirion to find it. You can't drive through it. You are not likely to stumble on it by chance, since one must drive on private roads to reach it. I knew of it and realized at once it was the only place to film The Prisoner." 42 It's a bit puzzling why this article ran in numerous papers BEFORE the U.S. screening of "Fall Out," especially since the location was kept secret in the UK until the episode was shown there the previous February. Perhaps by the summer, the secret was considered "old news" and either ITC or the U.S. media now felt it was permissible to mention it, ignoring the fact that American viewers wouldn't see the finale for another month.
For a program that garnered much attention when it premiered, surprisingly little was said about its impending conclusion during the run-up to its final episodes in September. "Followers of The Prisoner will see the wrap-up to this puzzling series on September 21," announced Harold Schindler, "when No.6 comes to the end of his arduous ordeals in The Village. This segment marks McGoohan's farewell performance in a television series. He has announced his intention to stay with motion pictures and the stage." 43 (This statement would obviously be proven wrong years later with McGoohan's various TV appearances in Columbo, Rafferty and Murder She Wrote). The week "Once Upon A Time" aired, TV Scout informed viewers the ending was upon them, announcing "This is a sad episode for Patrick McGoohan fans as it lays the groundwork for next week's climactic finale . . . and shows the limits to which Number Two will go to break the will of his prisoner," adding that the series "continues its uniquely excellent combination of imaginative plots and scenic ploys." 44
When "Fall Out" aired a week later, TV Guide called it "a razzle-dazzle display of metaphysical observations and quicksilver imagery," 45 while TV Scout elaborated on the finality of the event: "The Prisoner comes to the end of its run, and while it goes off with many unanswered questions, it comes to a satisfactory conclusion." Calling No.6 "the winner of the 'war-to-the-death'" (in a reference to Degree Absolute the week before), the review teased that "[he] is taken to a strange land beneath the earth where he is one of three revolutionaries to be judged." 46 Another review went into more detail, observing how the series "was at once a brilliantly conceived, way-out satire of a police state at work, and a beautifully photographed and slickly-played adventure." The finale, in particular, was regarded as having an "overall excellence of special effects, style and pace," while "fans will be pleased to learn that the Prisoner manages to find his way out of The Village at long last, but the machinations surrounding his escape are more interesting in the playing than in the plot." They also liked Alexis Kanner's "mercurial performance" which they thought was "reminiscent of a perfectly manipulated marionette." 47
Although the series was over, CBS was obviously glad to have aired such a critically acclaimed production, and did not hesitate running it again the following summer (likewise, it wouldn't hurt that the additional exposure and advertising would help recoup more of their investment in the show). This time around, Jackie Gleason did not have to worry about being replaced. Instead, The Prisoner took over the timeslot of Jonathan Winters' recently cancelled variety series, airing at 8pm on Thursday nights beginning May 29. Fans who loved the show no doubt rejoiced at the news of its return, while critics were quick to praise it again, urging new viewers to tune in if they missed it previously. (Remember, this was an age before home video and streaming, when reruns were the only way to watch a program a second time.) One review stated, "Any viewer with a taste for the offbeat, imaginatively produced and exquisitely photographed and performed, tune in here for a welcome rerun of a British series which brightened our airways last summer . . . the entire show is a beautifully gimmicked, intriguing enigma from beginning to end." 48
On the eve of the '69 repeat, Rick Du Brow (who gave the show a glowing review the year before) was ruminating on how the recent TV season might appear from a future perspective. "What television programs are we likely to remember from the last year or so?" he wondered. "In the entertainment field, I don't think we'll recall too many on the basis of achievement, but there were some shows of exceptional note . . . easily the best series of the year was a short-run British import on CBS-TV, The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan, whose previous series, Secret Agent, was also the best when it was on the air." Du Brow described the show as "an Orwellian horror-fantasy about an intelligent man held captive in a seemingly serene and suburban, yet mysterious, village with a curious Disneyland flavor. And how's your town?" 49
He also noted the continued
presence of several UK series on American networks in recent years. "It's
always nice to know the British are around to pick a fellow up after a difficult
television season," he observed. "Just when you are ready to start
mumbling to yourself over the quality of various video series, there are the
British -- in spring and summer -- to add a little class to the proceedings."
His choices for the best shows included The Saint, The Avengers, The Prisoner
and Secret Agent, the latter which he called, "one of the
most stylish weekly shows television ever presented." He thought McGoohan
"was way ahead of the game in playing down mayhem . . . a strong-minded
fellow, he personally deplored excessive violence, and did in his fictional
foes with a minimum of shooting and fisticuffs." Du Brow wrapped up with
praise for all involved: "Nevertheless, we owe the British some thanks
for giving us in recent summers -- and sometimes more often -- three droll,
stylish leading men who excel at the mystery-adventure spy-private eye type
of role: Patrick McGoohan, Roger Moore and Patrick MacNee. They all look splendid
in conservative clothes, and know how to carry off their roles with an inner
sense of elan. England may be swinging, as the slick magazines keep telling
us -- but you still can't beat a fellow who gives you the impression that he'd
really rather keep it to himself." 50
As during the previous year, little was said in the papers about the series' conclusion. No in-depth articles analyzing the final episode appear to have been written, while few viewers wrote in to express praise (or dislike) for "Fall Out." If there were discussions or debates about the nature of the show, they didn't appear in the papers. The closest any viewers got to an explanation of the finale (or the entire program for that matter) came in a syndicated article titled "A Speculative Guide to The Prisoner." "Never has a single network series evoked as much public debate as The Prisoner," the piece stated. "The debate has been evidenced by letters from all over the world pouring into the offices of Independent Television Corp. (ITC), the distributor of the imaginative, provocative series. What are the balloons? Who is Number One? What does the final episode 'Fall Out' mean? These typify the lively questions, and the responses from the public offer a speculative guide to what is generally conceded to be 'the thinking man's spy series.'" The guide duly provided answers to several questions about the series, but the information was not entirely new -- the responses were cobbled together from an ATV press release issued in the UK in February 1968 after the British premiere of "Fall Out." Apparently, someone at Associated Press or UPI came across a copy, and felt the same explanations would satisfy American viewers as well. Yet, the offering wasn't without a noteworthy observation. "Evolvement of [this Guide] is not too surprising," the piece concluded. "It's a consequence, in part, to the perception brought to the series by Patrick McGoohan. His aim was ambitious, indeed: To have the public speculate about the inner and outer world of man today, and at the same time, be visually excited by each 'Prisoner' hour witnessed." 51
1970-1985: SYNDICATION, HOME VIDEO & LEGACY
By the 1970s, the series moved into the TV "afterlife" of syndication. This was still a time of oblivion for obscure shows, as there were no home video releases yet and, for The Prisoner especially, there were no organized clubs for fans to discuss the program or lobby for screenings. As a result, the series was relegated to many viewers' memories, especially those who lived in smaller television markets that did not rerun lesser-known programs. Several papers of the era contain letters from readers asking when or if the show would be run again. It was periodically screened in larger markets, however. In early 1970, Los Angeles station KTLA was one of the first outlets to syndicate the program, reminding viewers "this is one series that bears repeated viewing, so subtle and puzzling are many of its nuances." 52
In 1973, the program was part of a unique series of screenings via closed circuit television on college campuses. The idea came from Video Tape Network, a New York-based production company that specialized in providing programming to student populations. "Alternative television, featuring programs not practically presented on commercial channels, is finding its way over closed college circuits," one article stated. "Some of the programs are daring, some are camp and others instructional -- but few are available for home watching." The selections were delivered to campuses in the form of reel-to-reel videotapes on a subscription basis, with the majority being underground films, concerts and talk shows addressing politics and student life. Surprisingly, The Prisoner gained a new audience through this service. "It bombed commercially, but the college kids really picked up on it," said company vice-president John Lollos. "So VTN is making available 17 hours of [the series]." 53
During this time, Patrick McGoohan put the show firmly in his past and moved on with his career, but he nevertheless gained perspective on this project that consumed his talent and energy for almost two years. Comments he made in the decade or so after the show ended are illuminating, since its production and reception were still fresh in his mind. "It was a splash of objection on a canvas," he told Henry Pelham Burn in 1969. "It was an attempt that failed, really to try a slightly different type of television series, and at the same time take a stand on something I feel very strongly about -- numerisation, mediocrity, this leveling of people by acceptance. It seems to me that part of the rebellion today is the rebellion against acceptance." 54 The following year he explained to Kevin Thomas, "The Prisoner? Well, that was an experimental kind of thing for television. Originally, I wanted to do only seven episodes but CBS wouldn't buy it. I stopped at 17. I had had enough." He was amazed though, at the response the series received in the U.S. "I was astonished that it got a sort of faithful audience -- better than I had expected. We never thought of it in terms of an audience of 25 or 30 million," he admitted. 55
By the time the series reached its tenth anniversary, McGoohan was accustomed to being asked about it regularly. Bettelou Peterson interviewed the actor in the summer of 1977 during production of his short-lived medical series, Rafferty. "Don't ask Patrick McGoohan to explain The Prisoner," she warned. "He will regard the questioner over his dark-rimmed glasses, bright blue eyes twinkling, sigh elaborately and say, 'Where've I heard that before?' It has become almost a standing joke with him." Peterson said the series was still considered innovative ten years on, while its premise "baffled many viewers but became the center of a cult as loyal as Star Trek adherents. They insisted it was full of profound meanings. The cult is still around, still enthusiastic. 'The show's always being rerun somewhere,' says McGoohan." 56 By 1985, he appeared comfortable with the program's legacy and reputation. "I mean, it's very gratifying that people are still interested in it after what, 17 years?" he told Bill King for Anglofile magazine. "[In creating the show] all you can do is just do what you feel you have to do . . . I thought there was something in it that I wanted to say. And then, fortunately, some other people must have thought so. They may have put different interpretations on it, but that doesn't matter . . . As long as it has some reaction." He tellingly added, "I've had some people say, 'I loved you in Secret Agent and hated The Prisoner.' That's fine with me, too. Fine. Because it wasn't designed for everybody." 57
By the early 1980s, critics and fans also had some fifteen years of hindsight with which to regard The Prisoner. Pop culture historians Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik praised the series in their excellent book, Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television. In their chapter on the 1967-68 season, they discussed the then-fading TV spy genre as suffering from "constant overexposure" and onscreen "conflicts that could no longer be taken seriously," which was obvious in the post-Diana Rigg-era of The Avengers, as well as in parodies such as Get Smart. "Yet as super-sleuth TV was in its death-rattle," they observed, "Britain came up with one final spy masterpiece that successfully combined numerous strains of entertainment into one of the best television series ever devised, The Prisoner." They labeled the series "the most dazzlingly produced program then on British television," that achieved "a level of artistic success on a par with high quality literature, films and theater," adding that McGoohan's "splendid" performance along with the complex plots, "gave the show a level of sophistication far above normal TV fare." 58
When Castleman and Podrazik's book came out in 1982, it was the dawn of both the home video revolution and ubiquitous 1960s nostalgia -- movements that would have a sizable impact on the remainder of the decade (as well as on The Prisoner itself). The series was becoming easier than ever to see thanks to increased rerun screenings and the advent of home VCRs. Admirers of vintage television were especially glad about the latter development. "For many television shows, one viewing is too many," one article stated in 1985. "Yet, because of a special, undefinable chemistry, a select group of programs withstand the test of repeated viewing. To fans in particular, they are more rewarding on each successive go-around. Acknowledging this fact . . . distributors are issuing video cassette collections of several treasured television classics." After listing such perennials as I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and Star Trek, the article announced that The Prisoner was available as well: "This short-lived summer replacement aired fewer than two dozen episodes. Nonetheless, it is a genuine cult favorite [and] always an intellectual exercise." The piece concluded, "While many viewers were turned off by the show's accent on psychological, and not physical action, the entire series is currently available on tape, making it possible for a thorough exploration of the show's many subtle delights." 59
And so, The Prisoner successfully traversed the decades with its reputation intact, helped in no small part by the reviews and reports dating from the time of its creation. Analyzing these write-ups today, we see how they capture in time a moment of when the series was still new. A time when viewers had no idea what to expect as they tuned into each week's episode. A time when critics attempted to comprehend the show's impact and place it in context alongside the many other series flickering across TV screens during those tumultuous years of 1968 and '69. Dedicated fans eventually took up the mantle by documenting the show's history and keeping its legacy alive, thus leading it into today's world of Blu-rays, streaming and social media -- all of which makes for an amazing fifty-year journey for what began as an obscure summer replacement series!
To wrap up, three comments from the time of the show's premiere neatly encapsulate how audiences felt. The first two come from an industry executive and a viewer -- bookends of the creative journey every television series makes from conception to screening. Their words appeared simultaneously in late-September 1969, just as The Prisoner finished its second network run and was headed for the shadows of a decade-long obscurity. First, Abe Mandell, then president of ITC, was musing on the show's impact. "The mail pull on the series was unbelievable," he said. "It has been sold in 70 countries. Basically the program was Patrick McGoohan saying what he thinks and feels. We provided him with a lot of money and he produced and starred in something different, with a lot of impact." 60 Then viewer Don McDaniel of Santa Clara, California expressed his thoughts on the series: "Never in TV's history has anyone done what Patrick McGoohan has done. Pointless trash must go to make room for more interesting dramatic entertainment in abundance like The Prisoner. He used television to say what he wanted and, in only 17 episodes, he said it well. It will surely be a yardstick in later years." 61 Finally, a letter from Christine Neibert of Englewood, Ohio appeared in TV Guide the week "Fall Out" first aired in September 1968. This offering speaks best for itself:
"And so, as The Prisoner sinks slowly into the murky depths of Situation Sea, we leave the bright land of Imaginative TV, and with a heartfelt farewell to that rare and wonderful No.6, we can only say 'We knew he was too good to last.'" 62
.Kirtz, William. "Out to Beat Bond." The New York Times (January 23,
2. "Pat McGoohan to Film New Action Program." [Bloomington, Illinois] Pantagraph (June 11, 1966).
3. Musel, Robert. "Television Review." New Castle [Pennsylvania] News (July 25, 1966).
4. ______. "Secret Agent Drake Gone But Image Lingers On." [Long Beach, California] Independent Press-Telegram (July 31, 1966).
5. Syndicated Press Release. Kansas City Star (October 23, 1966).
6. Gowran, Clay. "British 'Prisoner' To Be 'Greatest.'" Abilene [Texas] Reporter-News (February 26, 1967).
7. Reader's Letter. Independent Press-Telegram (June 25, 1967).
8. Davis, Ivor. "Impact or Flop?" El Paso Herald-Post (September 16, 1967).
9. Castleman, Harry and Walter J. Podrazik. The TV Schedule Book: Four Decades of Network Programming From Sign-On To Sign-Off. McGraw-Hill, 1984.
10. Variety editors. "Prisoner Review #1." Variety (October 11, 1967).
11. ______. "Prisoner Review #2." Variety (June 5, 1968).
12. "Irishman Will Star In Mystery Thriller." Ogden [Utah] Standard-Examiner (May 26, 1968).
13. Gysel, Dean. "Thinking Man's TV Show Slated." Corpus Christi [Texas] Caller-Times (May 31, 1968).
14. ______. "'The Prisoner' Tops On Reviewer's List." Corpus Christi Caller-Times (July 21, 1968).
15. Du Brow, Rick. "A Tribute to the Late Dean Gysel." [Hendersonville, North Carolina] Times-News (July 31, 1969).
16. Schindler, Harold. "Blimey Yanks, It's Our Telly Time." Salt Lake City Tribune (June 14, 1968).
17. ______. "'The Prisoner' Overcomes Irritating Symbolism." Salt Lake City Tribune (June 5, 1968).
18. Du Brow, Rick. "McGoohan 'Prisoner' Trumpets Individual." Pasadena Independent (June 5, 1968).
19. Wagner, Joyce. "On the TV Scene: The Prisoner. . ." Kansas City Star (June 12, 1968).
20. Gould, Jack. "'The Prisoner' Opens." The New York Times (June 17, 1968).
21. Lowry, Cynthia. "Psychedelic Move." Hobbs [New Mexico] Daily News-Sun (June 3, 1968).
22. Allen, Stewart. "The Occasional Viewer: The Prisoner." Arizona Republic (June 1, 1968).
23. Eres, George. "'The Prisoner': Why Indeed?" Independent Press-Telegram (July 16, 1968).
24. Graham, Sheilah. "Ford Wants John Wayne For Role." [Burlington, North Carolina] Daily Times-News (June 20, 1968).
25. ______. "Inside Hollywood." Pasadena Independent (November 11, 1968).
26. "TV Key Mailbag." Las Cruces [New Mexico] Sun-News (July 28, 1968).
27. "Letters: The Bright British." TV Guide (August 10-16, 1968).
28. "Letters: Is British TV Better?" TV Guide (September 6-12, 1969).
29. Harris, Steve. "Pan and Fan Mail." Independent Press-Telegram (May 18, 1969).
30. TV Scout. "Tonight In Television." Kokomo [Indiana] Tribune (June 8, 1968).
31. ______. Edwardsville [Illinois] Intelligencer (June 21, 1968).
32. ______. "Television Previews." Odessa [Texas] American (June 12, 1969).
33. ______. "Adams Featured In Funny 'Get Smart.' Edwardsville Intelligencer (June 29, 1968).
34. "Irishman Will Star In Mystery Thriller." Ogden Standard-Examiner (May 26, 1968).
35. "Highlights of TV Shows." [Troy, New York] Times Record (June 22, 1968).
36. TV Scout. "Life-Sized Chess Game." Abilene Reporter-News (August 17, 1968).
37. "Westchester Golf Tops Saturday TV." Oneonta [New York] Star (August 17, 1968).
38. TV Scout. "Highlights Tonight." [San Antonio] Express and News (August 24, 1968).
39. ______. "Saturday's TV Previews." Edwardsville Intelligencer (August 31, 1968).
40. "Holiday TV Shows to Watch." Oil City [Pennsylvania] Derrick (September 7, 1968).
41. "Good TV Viewing." Abilene Reporter-News (September 7, 1968).
42. "Patrick McGoohan's Prison." [Provo, Utah] Daily Herald (August 19, 1968).
43. Schindler, Harold. "Television Today." Salt Lake City Tribune (September 3, 1968).
44. TV Scout. "Will of The Prisoner Is at Breaking Point." Edwardsville Intelligencer (September 14, 1968).
45. "Close-Up: The Prisoner." TV Guide (September 21-27, 1968).
46. TV Scout. "'Prisoner Coming To End of Its Run." Corpus Christi Caller-Times (September 21, 1968.)
47. "The Prisoner: Fall Out." Fresno [California] Bee Republican (September 21, 1968).
48. Scheuer, Steven H. "TV Previews." [Uniontown, Pennsylvania] Morning Herald (May 29, 1969).
49. Du Brow, Rick. "Some Faces Will Linger After The Picture Fades." Tucson [Arizona] Daily Citizen (May 27, 1969).
50. ______. "3 Britishers Help Brighten Summer TV." [Pomona, California] Progress Bulletin (April 25, 1969).
51. "Speculative Guide to 'The Prisoner.'" San Antonio Express (June 22, 1969).
52. Kreiling, Ernie. "Closer Look at Television." [Van Nuys, California] Valley News (February 19, 1970).
53. MacAuley, Allen. "Closed College Circuits Bypass Regular Video Channel Programs." Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (January 4, 1973).
54. Burn, Henry Pelham. "Essence of Truth." Pace Magazine, December 1969. (Reprinted in Number Six magazine, Issue 34, Winter 1993).
55. Thomas, Kevin. "McGoohan, Man of Many Projects." Los Angeles Times (July 1, 1970).
56. Peterson, Bettelou. "Brashness of 'Prisoner' Reflected in 'Rafferty.'" Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph (July 20, 1977).
57. King, Bill. "Patrick McGoohan: An Interview with the Man behind 'The Prisoner.'" Anglofile Magazine, 1988.
58. Castleman, Harry and Walter J. Podrazik. Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television. McGraw-Hill, 1982.
59. Robinson, Jim. "Video Cassettes Capture Vintage TV for All to See." [North Hills, Pennsylvania] News Record (August 24, 1985).
60. "Mini-Interview." North Adams [Massachusetts] Transcript (September 27, 1969).
61. Williamson, Clarke. "Top View: Readers Speak." [Kalispell, Montana] Daily Inter Lake (September 22, 1969).
62. "Letters: Bittersweet." TV Guide (September 21-27, 1968).
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