July 23, 2010


With Network's release of the rare spy show, The Corridor People, Spy Vibe explored the larger context of the satire and surrealist boom in 1960s England. Yesterday we looked at key figures in the movement, including Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, John Lennon, and Richard Lester. Their work challenged traditional conventions and became a major influence on the cultural landscape of the second half of the 20th Century and beyond. Today I thought it would be fun to see The Prisoner in this context. As Tanner mentioned the final Prisoner show "Fallout" in his review of The Corridor People at Double O Section, let's take a look at the preview and an excerpt from the episode.

"Fallout" has been controversial among Prisoner fans since its debut. I remember my own reaction. After recording the synopsis of each show in my own home-made episode guide as a kid, I was utterly confused and somewhat outraged by the show's conclusion. What did it mean? Why was it so crazy? I thought I liked "out-there" work- certainly by the slightly surreal and cartoony standards of The Avengers and A Hard Days Night. What I was missing was the larger context Spy Vibe looked at yesterday and the degree of chaos that the episode embraces. "Fallout" doesn't flow beautifully from watching other spy shows of the period. Of course it looked crazy compared to James Bond or Mission Impossible. But next to satirical and outwardly surreal work like The Bed Sitting Room, How I Won the War, and Magical Mystery Tour, McGoohan's social satire is a special feast and a surreal revolution. John Lennon returns to the conversation once again as an influential voice. Although the music of The Beatles and Lennon has rarely been licensed for TV or film, Lennon's All You Need is Love is featured prominently in the climax of The Prisoner.
Look through the clips from the last two days. Hopefully within the context of yesterday's post, Spy Vibers will see "Fallout" with a new appreciation.

Check out The Prisoner Online and the Prisoner Appreciation Society for more info and discussions about "Fallout" and the series. Above image from Pop Matters.

1 comment:

  1. From David Foster at Permission to Kill:

    I enjoyed it very much (as I enjoy all your posts).

    And 'One Leg Too Few' is a classic sketch.

    And now - if my bank balance will stretch - I'll have to track down 'Corridor People'.

    The McKellan version of 'The Prisoner' starts this week in Australia - I'll be very interested to see how it stacks up.

    I remember the first time I watched 'Fallout' and was just gobsmacked - and angry about it too.

    The thing was that we didn't know about the internet back them - and The Prisoner certainly wasn't for sale on video. An Australian company released it to video shops, but it wasn't popular and most video libraries (maybe) had one of two videos from the series (each with 2 episodes on it). My friends and I would search Video Shops all along the South side of Melbourne trying to find the videos in order. When one of us found the next one, we would all convene to someone's house and eagerly sit down and watched this amazing show. It was almost like we were this underground secret club - with hidden knowledge that normal folk weren't privy too (the extent of this knowledge was 'The Prisoner is a great television show').

    It took us a year to track down all the episodes - naturally the two part final episode was the hardest to find - and being the concluding episodes, it is fair to say we had worked ourselves up into quite a state - figuring that we'd finally know what it all means...but then...well you know the rest of the story.

    David Foster

    “Kuryakin spun on his heel, thrusting his hand under his jacket,
    snagging at the butt of his U.N.C.L.E. Special.”

    Visit me at: Permission to Kill