Thursday, December 20, 2007

PBB Presents "Open Letters to Celebrities": Patrick McGoohan

Dear Mr. McGoohan,

I just finished watching The Prisoner last night. Thank you for a compelling and bizarre television series. It really was one of a kind--and in a good way.

I simply loved the concept and the way it was carried out. Your portrayal of Number 6 was often hilarious and exciting. The rotating carousel of "new Number 2's" kept things fresh (though my favorite was, of course, Leo McKern). The writing was at times very crisp, the symbolism was thick without being pedantic, and the stories were often very gripping.

I do have to say that I started to lose a little faith toward the end. While I was willing to forgive the bizarreness of "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling," the episodes "Living in Harmony" and "The Girl Who was Death" were a bit too stagey for me. The show was most entertaining when it was firmly grounded in the pseudo-"reality" of the Village itself. Dream sequences and other cutesy machinations only served to distract from an otherwise great show. And really, "Death" was just a waste, slipping sadly to the level of an Adam West "Batman" episode, but without the helpful "BAMs" and "POWWWs."

Which brings me to "Fall Out." I was at once thrilled and perplexed by this episode. There were so many unusual visual and aural elements to take in and organize. So many images carried some sort of symbolic weight, though I had trouble really "getting" them on the first run through. I love the kangaroo court that ensues. I love No. 48's character. I love the hallucinatory feel of the episode.

But I hated the ending. I thought the reveal of No. 1 was a bit of a cop-out. I really would have preferred that there was no reveal of No. 1, or it's revealed that No. 1 was a machine, or that he wasn't really even there at that location, and was some desk clerk in London. Maybe one of those alternatives was really what you meant, and I just didn't get it. But the overthrow of the court, and the ensuing escape seemed very odd.

I loved that the butler stayed with No. 6, and that the number on his (self-opening) door was "1." Maybe that tells me all I need to know.

It was an odd way to end the series. Something tells me that was outside of your control, and I sympathize. I'd like to think that you weren't pleased to have to end it that way either. There's a sense of tension and disquiet in the ending. Perhaps that was just my projection upon the episode.

Despite my criticisms, however, I have to say that your program was one of the best television stories I've ever seen, and that all of the best TV storytellers currently spinning their tales owe you a great debt of gratitude for opening up the medium to the idea of a series being a difficult, abstract, and ultimately rewarding journey. Thank you for your artistic vision.

Be seeing you,

(call me No. 52)

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