Thursday, January 15, 2009

Patrick McGoohan

Well, those of us who are fans were saddened to hear today about the passing of Patrick McGoohan, actor, director, producer, etc., of stage, film, and most famously, television. Folks who know me know I'm not a big TV junkie, by any means, but there have been a handful of shows over the years that I've really gotten hooked on. And Mr. McGoohan was the central creative talent behind one of them, The Prisoner, a ground-breaking British series from the late 60s. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, you should check out:

http://www.amctv.com/originals/the-prisoner-1960s-series/


Where you can watch episodes of this classic show. The basic premise is that McGoohan's character resigns from some secret branch of service, and is then whisked away, against his will, to a place known only as The Village, where for 17 episodes he is variously tortured, drugged, tricked, cajoled and otherwise urged to divulge the answer to one question.. "why did you resign?"

It's obviously much more than that, with themes in the show about individuality, freedom, conformity, authority, identity, etc. One of the signature lines, from the first episode is "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed or numbered. My life is my own!" Some moments, heck, some entire episodes, still stand out as some of the most surreal and thought provoking moments on television. Well worth checking it out.

McGoohan also appeared in a number of movies and stage productions, but The Prisoner and Secret Agent, which preceded The Prisoner, are what he is best known for. In Secret Agent, he plays the title role, a dashing and crafty secret agent named John Drake. I admit, I was never as taken with that series as with The Prisoner, but it's still a very good example of the secret agent genre.

An obituary appears on cnn.com:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/01/14/obit.mcgoohan/index.html?iref=newssearch

And in the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/0/14/AR2009011403535.html


I think I'll have to sit down and watch the series, start to finish, in the near future. And yes, I do have the whole thing on DVD. But no, I have NOT attended the annual gathering of the Six of One, a fan association that meets every year in the Welsh resort where the series was largely filmed. I've thought about it though.

Sad to know that Patrick McGoohan is gone... but his work lives on.

Be seeing you...

3 comments:

beth h said...

Wasn't Patrick MacGoohan also in The Avengers? Maybe I'm confusing him with someone else. I'm a tad young to remember The Prisoner...

Tim said...

That was Patrick McNee, a different British actor.

Thanks, make me feel old... sheesh!

Syke said...

Patrick MacGoohan original starred in a British series called "Dangerman". Which was then imported into the United States as "Secret Agent" (as in the Johnny Rivers song "Secret Agent Man" which was the theme song to the American show). It was easily the best of all the spy shows during that craze back in the mid/late 60's. The episodes still hold up very well today.

By the way, during my digging for the various obits, I discovered that American Movie Classics is going to do a six episode revisiting of "The Prisoner" with Jim Cavazel ("Passion of the Christ") as Number Six and Ian McClellan (hope I spelled it right, the guy who played Magneto in the X-Men movies as Number Two. There was some thought of having MacGoohan do a cameo as Number One in the show, but it never worked out.

This isn't going to be a nut and bolt redoing of the original series, but I get the feeling it's going to be more like Star Trek:TNG vs. Star Trek:TOS. Supposedly coming out sometime this year, I'm looking forward to it with curiosity.