Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Prisoner: Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling

I recently purchased--at the unspoken behest of the geek hive mind--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.

I've never seen a teaser for The Prisoner before. I wonder if this episode will do anything else that radically alters the format?

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the part of The Prisoner will be played by this douche.

Apparently, Dr. McGuffin developed a ray to mind swap folks and The Prisoner was the last person to see him before both mysteriously vanished. The Keepers have the brain swap machine, but they don't have the brain swap back machine. So they wipe The Prisoner's memories of The Village and put his consciousness into a baby-headed aryan and set him free into the world where he'll naturally find the one guy who can put his mind into his body and get his life back.

More troubling, we learn The Keepers are illiterate. Kinda feel bad for them now.

On the surface, "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling" may seem like a tepid episode based on the new season of Futurama and getting Patrick McGoohan some time off. It might seem that it's poorly thought out, or that it's designed to settle a bet over whether Americans will sympathize with any British guy who spends the most time center stage, or if we can instinctively recognize how awesome McGoohan is. Sadly, the answer is that British people, like all other peoples, are utterly interchangeable to us[1].

I don't want to insult The Prisoner, but someone needs to tell him that this body is making him and everyone else dumber.

What this episode actually is--and it represents it by making our protagonist look like one of The Keepers--is a way to get us to empathize with The Keepers’ all consuming quest for knowledge. Sure, we vilify The Keepers because they want to know everything, "Keepers," we whine, "You can't simply dehumanize people because of your insatiable thirst for power and security." We hate them, but we never understand them, and “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling” attempts to rectify that.

Why else would this episode leave us asking so many questions? After this episode, we want to fly our DVDs out to a remote island, queue it up slowly in our laptops, and whenever the menu shows its name, it only reveals "Episode 13." It's a good episode, but we have some questions. Why is it that the helicopter is considered 'base' for getting out of The Village for everyone but The Prisoner? Why was there a miniature clip show in here? Why is it that your transitional scenes of the guy who isn't Patrick McGoohan driving The Prisoner's car include scenes where it's obviously Patrick McGoohan driving The Prisoner's car?

This one's McGoohan. This one is Stock. This one's McGoohan again, but if I freeze the frame here, you can see Shatner's stunt double, Fred Lubbins.

Why is your choreography so bad?  Why did you not tell us The Keepers needed Dr. McGuffin to reverse the process until the end? How did you get away with a Hitler joke in 1966?! Why do you have to be so obtuse The Prisoner episode "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling"?!

You want to lie to it, intimidate it, manipulate the other episodes to betray it, and yes, if must be, mind control it via any ridiculous scheme possible to break it down and reveal its secrets. I will break you, Episode 13, I will.

[1] See Bond, James Bond


Moor Larkin said...

it is startling to note that the very first fans who began to study this series as more than just a passing piece of TV ephemera actually thought Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling was the richest, most complexly rewarding program in the series. That was the opinion expressed in the viewing notes published to accompany the Ontario Educational Communications Authority study of the show in 1976

VanVelding said...

That's the thing about doing this blind; I have no idea what the context is besides "Britain, 1966." This series is so lauded I feel like I'm missing something when an episode fails to absolutely floor me.