View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lost - The Prisoner


There are lots of fans of Lost. I have enjoyed the show when I’ve seen it, but, due to my schedule, I have missed most of this season.

It’s a show full of unanswered questions that keep the character – and the audience – guessing.

It has a large cult following.

It reminds me in many ways of another cult favorite I loved years ago.

The Prisoner.

The show was about British secret agent who abruptly and angrily resigns. He is followed back to his home, were he is gassed and taken to “The Village. “ There, everyone has a number, not a name. He is Number 6. (“I am not a number. I’m a free man!”)

The Village is a generic world that resembles a happy, perky resort (it was actually shot at one).

But it’s a resort where you are constantly under surveillance, making the standard good bye of the village – “Be seeing you.” – ironic. There is also a large, strange, balloon-like creature (robot?) that attacks if you try to leave.

Each week, a rotating series of actors playing Number 2 try to break him to find out why he resigned (and occasionally other information that only he has.) They use mind games, scientific devices, drugs, supposed friends and allies to get him to talk.

He refuses. Instead, he constantly tries to escape, to seek answers to questions about his captors, and to find out who Number 1 is.

What is the Village? Who kidnapped him – his own side, or the enemy? Who are the other people in the Village? How many of them are prisoners like himself? How many work for his captors?

Is this show an allegory for a man trapped by society? Himself? His own conscience?

The final episode leaves us with unanswered questions. When he removes the mask of the supposed Number 1, it is himself.

Indeed, each week the show begins with him asking, “Who is Number 1?” and being told in response “You are Number 6” Or is it phrased, “You are, Number 6.”? Has he been given the answer all along?

Has this all just happened in his own mind?

Does he really escape?

Why is the mysterious butler in the Village now his butler?

Or did they have to come up with an ambiguous ending in a hurry because Sir Lew Grade would not pay for more episodes?

5 Comments:

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Blogger Chris Lewis said...

In actuality it wasn't a funding issue, so much as it was that McGoohan was struggling to come up with even 17 episodes. The story goes he came up with concepts for 8 episodes - he wanted it to be a serial (or what we call a miniseries today) but Grade demanded 20 or 25 episodes so they could market it as enough episodes to fill an entire season in the USA. McGoohan put his nose to the grindstone and came up with 9 more episodes but that was it...

Now, toward the end they did run out of money, but McGoohan always maintained that the series was completed and the outcome of Fall Out, albeit mind boggling, was in fact the outcome he wanted.

1:45 PM  

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