Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ultimate Cult Show

The Prisoner
The Complete Series (A&E)

For a series of only 17 episodes, it’s no exaggeration to say that The Prisoner is still among the most influential TV shows ever. With Patrick McGoohan playing a retired secret agent who awakes to find himself imprisoned in a mysterious place, The Village, where all inhabitants have numbers, The Prisoner embodies late-60s counterculture in film and television: a skeptical attitude toward authority and fearless experimenting with previously taboo subjects, e.g., hallucinatory drugs, mind control and indoctrination. The quality varies from episode to episode--some merely mark time in order to put “number six” through his weekly paces--and the large white balloon, the “Rover,” which tracked down those members of the village who tried to escape, remains rather silly. But overall, The Prisoner is an absorbing and quite surreal viewing experience.

The high-definition masters used for this Blu-ray release are gorgeous, with colors that literally pop out of the TV screen to make the show’s bizarre yet familiar setting more realistic, as does the newly remixed 5.1 surround sound track. The bonus disc of extras contains a feature-length documentary about the series, Don’t Knock Yourself Out; new featurettes, The Pink Prisoner and You Make Sure It Fits!; alternate edits of two episodes; audio commentaries on selected episodes; and much more.

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