Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Prisoner: The Girl Who Was Death

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.

We all remember things differently. There was once an episode of Batman: the Animated Series where The Mad Hatter puts Batman into a dream machine where everything is perfect except Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman so nothing is perfect at all. Inevitably, he gets out[1] and the first thing on his mind--and that of the viewer--is how much The Mad Hatter knows about his secret identity. Secret identities are a big deal when you’re 10; they are urgent business. Luckily, the writers and The Mad Hatter write it off with the fridge logic of “Nothing can be learned from a dream.”

The mind that thinks is up probably deserves further analysis.

Disregarding non-answers used as answers, the concept that nothing can be learned from absurdity or lies is one for the smallest, least-creative minds. Just because something’s not true doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything from it. How someone lies to you can be just as informative as if they had told you the truth. As both Michael Garibaldi and Greg House have mentioned, everyone lies. Untruths and half-truths are facts of out existence, and learning to scavenge fact from falsehood is an essential skill, one that requires more effort than simply throwing up your hands in resignation whenever you learn that the story you’re listening to isn’t true.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that The Keepers lack this skill.

Using random industrial equipment as an ad-hoc tank? Ridiculous!

As for the meat of “The Girl Who Was Death,” after a moment of confusion, I laughed at it for forty minutes straight, with the exceptions of the moments where I laughed at it really hard. After the twist came, I realized I had been laughing with it. For something that puts “death” in the title, it was the most enjoyable episode so far, narrowly beating out “Hammer Into Anvil.” Maybe if “Hammer Into Anvil,” could’ve squeezed in an alligator-scale gatling gun I would feel differently, but alas.

Alright, Sarlacc-scale anti-proton beam.

I wish it would have focused more on the framing and implications, though I’m hard pressed to think of ways to do that which aren’t just old episodes rehashed. And then, if there hadn’t been so much foot dragging for the sake of explaining everything in idiotic detail, it wouldn’t have been so ironically good. Maybe “The Girl Who Was Death” was just a bad story with a disclaimer tacked on. Maybe it was a jab at some of the contemporary television programs of the day, like the scene in the series finale of Moonlighting where Bruce Willis and Sybil Shepherd make out in front of the omniscient producer in order to increase the show’s sex appeal and stave off cancellation[3]. Maybe it was just a fun, silly ride.

No, it was definitely that last one.


[1] Or does he?[2]
[2] He does.
[3] That really happened, right? I was 7 when that show got canceled and it’s not like I saw it on TiVo.

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