The Prisoner – Lost of the 60's?


In television, series finales are a completely different ballgame from season finales, for one simple reason. The individual who originally envisioned the series, the writer, knows going into the finale, that what the viewer will ultimately see, will be a program that ties up all loose ends and all questions will be answered. Uh, right. All you have to do is think of recent series finales such as Lost or the Sopranos to know that there are times that more questions are created than answered. Endless internet arguments are born debating the true intent of those that both created and, ultimately, brought closure to a series.

One of the first such series to create more questions than answers in the finale was, perhaps, one of the best television series ever, The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan starred as a former British secret agent held ‘prisoner’ in a bizarrely, picturesque seaside village run by ‘numbers’ trying to figure out why he resigned. Surreal, at the least, The Prisoner was part science fiction, part psychological drama and part fantasy. In case you’re wondering, exteriors for the series were primarily filmed on the grounds of the Hotel Portmeirion. In case you’d like to visit, it’s easy. Located on its own private peninsula on the coast of Snowdonia in Wales, Portmeirion is mid-way between Penrhyndeudraeth and Porthmadog in Gwynedd, North Wales. Told you it was easy.

Making the point that The Prisoner is the Lost or Sopranos of the 60’s, the last episode caused ITV’s telephone lines to be blocked by the many millions of viewers who called in desperate for an explanation. Why is Number 6 being held? Why did he resign? Who is Number 6? Who are his jailers? Who is Number 1? Why is the village run by Number 2, whose identity changes from episode to episode? It’s worth investing the 17 hours to try and figure it out. If you want some help, think about joining The Prisoner Appreciation Society. Good luck.