Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Prisoner: Dance of the Dead

I recently purchased--at the unspoken behest of the geek hivemind--the classic BBC series The Prisoner. I'm watching it offshore to pass the time and sharing spoiler-free responses/reviews with the internet without provocation, cause, or request because that's what the internet is for. Enjoy.
This was my favorite episode of The Prisoner so far. Don't get me wrong; it isn't any better. It's not on the road to Badville, but it's just a few blocks shy of the corner of What Did I Just Watch Highway and Really Just Pretentious Boulevard.  It just got me more invested than the others. 

Yes, that's condescending sarcasm about time travel. The man is impossible to impress.

So, in this one, there's this mandatory dance that everyone has go to and have fun at. The Prisoner tries to escape again, only to be foiled, but stumbles upon a dead body and a radio. He ties a message to the dead body and sets it out to sea. At the dance, he discovers that The Keepers have recovered the dead body and plan to reuse it to fake his death and he is then put on trial for keeping the radio. 
Good. Pretty soon those kids from Stand By Me will be here.  

In addition to reminding me of my academy days, Dance of the Dead manages to lean pretty hard on the lighthearted-village-as-a-totalitarian-state thing. Almost hard enough to break it.I get that their type of democracy is a faux democracy, but I'm really beginning to think that The Village is rather self-contained because The Keepers really do seem to have drank the Kool-Aid.
'53 Slammin' Strawberry Kiwi? That's class. 

We usually see The Keepers "behind the scenes," so we're a bit further up on what's going on than The Prisoner. It was strange that his monitor would be such an obvious weak link who is the one woman and person in the series that doesn't betray him.She's been so inculcated into The Village--she takes it mood and twisted little sayings so directly into her heart--that she cannot mount an intellectual defense of it (a concept which, to the merit of The Prisoner, is worth an entire article of some kind in and of itself.). I fully expected the "never trust The Village" mentality to pervade consistently, to such a point that even whenever she stuck by him, that was part of their plan for her. As it is, she does a crappy job and is fired, and it's a testament to the series thus far that I'm actually surprised by that.Her attitude tells us that maybe some of the other members of The Village can be saved. Granted, it also tells us that if you yell at a straw woman condescendingly enough, she'll come to feel feelings for you because...? 

And The Prisoner. Man I am not impressed. I know that the fact that he never gives up is a central part of this show, but really, there's a line somewhere between "relentless" and "stupid" that he's going to cross while funny-running across a beach, some time around episode eleven, and then I'm just going to finally, utterly lose it and start using this show as a shining benchmark of ambition outstripping actual talent. 

That's how they inform you of your recent receipt of 'served' status in England.

Until that point happens, I will continue to respect him. I will continue to respect that his escape attempts play out the same way every time(especially whenever they are cleverly rolled into a plot device just when you're getting sick of them). I will respect the fact that yelling at the hired help makes him a real, independent person. I will respect the fact that he continues trying to lift the veil from the eyes of his fellow inhabitants.
I will never, ever respect his Garth Marenghi haircut.
This Number 2 is great. She isn't just trolling The Prisoner(like the last two Numbers 2); she plays carrot and stick pretty well. She gives him his old clothes for the dance, consistently hammers the point that the outside world is lost to him and The Village is all he has, and even manages to act bored whenever she thinks The Prisoner (who she needs alive) might be ready to commit suicide. It's like she's actually trying to win him over to their side, and she's the first Number Two to do so convincingly.

Also, she is disturbingly kinda doin' it for me. 
Don't get me wrong, there's still The Prisoner craziness; she totally makes him like a cat, then reveals that cat was her agent (which is both unsurprising and surprising because it's The Village, and even the roses are probably just pretending to smell nice to lure you into revealing your favorite scent, but no one expects something as self-referentially hilarious, no matter how unintentional, as declaring the cat one of your operatives.)


She won't be back and I'll miss her, which brings up another point: we don't get a lot of replay in this show. People come and go never to be seen again. Are they going to be picked up later, or are the ragged, loose ends and stories only seen in passing supposed to be part of the theme? I miss some of the characters from just the first three episodes, but I don't know that I'd want them back. On the one hand, some consistent mythology might be interesting, on the other I like the fact that without any connective tissue, anything really can happen in each episode.

Getting his legally trademarked British spy on.
And because it's The Prisoner, anything will and it will be crazy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Checkmate" is better.