MovieChat Forums > Secret Agent Discussion > Recommended for a 'The Prisoner' fan?

Recommended for a 'The Prisoner' fan?


I re-watched the whole "The Prisoner" original series, and was in the mood for more McGoohan. I checked out the pilot to "Danger Man" and found myself less than satisfied, in fact I can't imagine watching another episode of that unless it inproves later on.

Anyway, I read "Secret Agent" was different and of course not in a 30 minute format which left much to be desired in DM.

Can anybody say if this was better and that a fan of TP whom expects more from the writing and plotting, would enjoy it?

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The New Number 2: "Are you going to run?"
Number 6: "Like blazes. First chance I get."

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[deleted]

I like Secret Agent very much and in fact prefer it to The Prisoner. If you're a big McGoohan fan, he gets to display more range as an actor in Secret Agent, IMO. - aurileo

I agree about McGoohan's getting to display more range. For one thing, he often uses cover while on Secret Agent assignment (although it is usually a journalist he portrays). For another, there are many more episodes of DM/SA than Prisoner episodes. Finally, in The Prisoner, he is trying to shield himself from his captors in the Village--while not knowing "who are the prisoners and who are the warders"--so he holds his cards very close to his chest.

I still prefer The Prisoner to Danger Man/Secret Agent because the former has the added social and philosophical dimensions--the individual against society, questions of personal freedom, and so on. Because of that, in fact, I can't really compare the two. (And I do not think that Number Six is John Drake.) So, in a sense, it's easier for me to enjoy both because they really are two different mindsets. But McGoohan does get to display a broader range as John Drake.

I also like the half-hour series, although that time limitation does inhibit a story's development and range--they usually have to cut to the chase right away and tick off the plot points quickly. But they are still worth it for the strong writing and McGoohan's performances.

In the one-hour series, I tend to like many of the stories written by Philip Broadley (e.g., "The Mirror's New," "Are You Going to Be More Permanent?"), although any Prisoner fan must see "Colony Three" and even "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" for a taste of what was to come. (A friend of mine is a big fan of the music group Dead Can Dance, which has a song titled "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove," although I can't tell from the lyrics whether it is referencing John Drake and/or Danger Man.)

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"We hear very little, and we understand even less." - Refugee in Casablanca

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Can anybody say if this was better and that a fan of TP whom expects more from the writing and plotting, would enjoy it? - justinboggan

My experience is similar to yours in that I was familiar with The Prisoner long before I checked out any Danger Man. Where I differ is that I like the half-hour format although the one-hour format, what was called Secret Agent when aired in the US, is "better" in the sense that the stories have room to grow and be subtle while the characters, including John Drake, can be more complex.

So, to answer your question: Yes, it does get "better" if what you are looking for is the kind of intricacy and machination inherent in The Prisoner. In fact, one of the early one-hour episodes, "Colony Three," is practically a forerunner to The Prisoner in terms of premise and feel.

However, if you know nothing about Danger Man (and I'll use that to describe both the half-hour and one-hour versions) other than that one episode you describe, please be aware that Danger Man is a conventional spy series. I think it is the greatest of the 1960s spy series that I've seen so far (and that includes The Avengers, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Mission: Impossible, among others), but it does not have the social and philosophical exploration of The Prisoner. That is what makes The Prisoner sui generis in my estimation--there is no other series like it. So, if you are expecting Danger Man to be similar to The Prisoner in that respect, you will be disappointed because DM is a gritty, realistic look at spycraft--think John Le Carre and his The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

I too got into DM because I was "in the mood for more McGoohan," but from what I'd learned before I watched DM I knew it wasn't going to be another Prisoner. Instead, I got hooked on it because it was so different from The Prisoner.

The DM "pilot" is generally considered to be "A View from the Villa," which finds John Drake going to Italy to track down missing millions taken from a murdered American banker--and is notable in that exterior filming was done in Portmeirion, Wales, which is where The Prisoner was later filmed. It is a decent start; a number of the subsequent half-hour episodes were better, but all did have the time limitation working against them, so I'd suggest trying a few of the one-hour episodes before giving up on DM/SA.

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"We hear very little, and we understand even less." - Refugee in Casablanca

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Well for a prisoner fan I would recommend "Dangerous Secret". Why? Well, as you know, the expression "Be seeing you", is tied to The Prisoner. But did you know that John Drake used that expression on occasion in both the 1960-61 1/2 hour series, as well as the 1964-66 1 hour series?

'Dangerous Secret' (1964 series)is a great example of Drake issuing this expression... he drops out of a ceiling, knocks out a bad guy, recovers a critical tape recording, and then hoists himself back up through the whole in the ceiling while getting off this line. It's hilarious.

Here's another one for a Prisoner fan. In 'The Relaxed Informer' (1960 series) Drake is sitting in a cafe and making conversation with a suspect. Suddenly he takes a cord he has been nervously fiddling with, forms it in to a loop, and places up to his right eye, as though to use it as a monocle. !!! I think it was a total ad lib by McGoohan. I recently saw a reference to McGoohan explaining the genesis of "Be seeing you" as something from early Christianity. So clearly Patrick brought this device to both Danger Man as well as The Prisoner.

By the way, the best show (IMHO) in either Danger Man series is the 1 hour 'No Marks for Servility'. If that installment doesn't turn you on to the John Drake character you might as well forget about it. ;>

cheers

oh.... be seeing you...

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