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A&E Home Video presents

The Prisoner: Set 4 - Vol. 7&8 (1968)

"You still have a choice! You can still salvage your rights to be individuals! Your rights to truth and free thought!"- Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan)

Stars: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat, Clifford Evans
Other Stars: Angela Browne, John Sharpe, Joseph Cuby
Director: Joseph Serf (a.k.a. Patrick McGoohan), Pat Jackson, David Tomblin

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 03h:36m:00s
Release Date: 2001-04-24
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- AB+B C+


DVD Review

The saga of The Prisoner continues here in set #4, the penultimate set, because there are now only 3 episodes left to release, and set #5 cannot come soon enough. Here, the nature and tone of the series change a bit. Number Six now has something of an upper hand in the Village. Although he is still under the control of Number Two and is still an inmate, he is now considered more dangerous and cunning. Number Six is certainly more powerful now, which means the schemes to make him confess the reason behind his resignation are becoming more elaborate and brutal. It becomes obvious that Number Six's desire to escape will not have a quiet ending.

In A Change Of Mind, The Village decides to play a clever and cruel trick on Number Six. The Village Council warns him that his 'loner' attitude is not to be tolerated; it makes him unsociable. Number Six scoffs at the sheep, only to learn he has been declared "unmutual," making him a complete outcast. Now, Number Two can use this as an excuse to force Number Six into behavior modification therapy. Now Number Six will confess, won't he? Unlike most Prisoner episodes, this one almost exclusively uses studio re-creations of the Portmierion Village rather than on-location filming.

Hammer Into Anvil introduces us to a new, harder Number Two. His needlessly cruel interrogation of Number Seventy-Three leads to her death as she commits suicide. Enraged, Number Six promises revenge, but Number Two claims he'll be the one to finally win. Number Six begins a clever onslaught of suspicious behavior that Number Two will most assuredly investigate. What conspiracy does Six have up his sleeve? While The Prisoner has always had a subtle element of humor in it, this episode is probably the most comedic yet, allowing Number Six to have some fun with the authorities within a dark, sinister context.

Number Six awakens in his own apartment in London only to discover...he's not himself. In Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, Six's mind is transferred into another body! He's allowed outside the Village, but only to serve the purposes of Number Two, who is looking for a certain scientist. While an intriguing concept, I personally found this the most disappointing episode in the series. It just doesn't seem to have much personality, and perhaps that's because Patrick McGoohan isn't really in the show, other than a few pre-taped appearances. The episode was cleverly written around McGoohan's absence while the actor starred in Ice Station Zebra (playing a very Prisoner-esque role). Another interesting thing about this episode is that it's the first to change the general flow of the show, including a pre-credits sequence, and a slightly altered theme song.

One of the most creative and inspired episodes of The Prisoner is Living In Harmony. An unnamed sheriff in the Old West (Patrick McGoohan) resigns from his job, only to find himself captured by mysterious cowboys and brought to a small town called Harmony. Harmony is controlled by The Judge and his mute henchman, The Kid. The Judge wants to know why the sheriff resigned, so he imprisons him and forces him to become the new sheriff of Harmony. This new sheriff, however, refuses to wear a gun, rejecting the Judge's orders. Sound familiar? It should, because the whole episode is a subtle copy/satire of The Prisoner set in the Old West, even including an opening sequence very similar to the normal one, except changed to fit the atmosphere. What is the secret to this small town? What happened to Number Six and Number Two? All will be answered. It should be mentioned that this episode was never actually aired during the original U.S. broadcast run. CBS claimed the reason was that they objected to the overtures of hallucinatory drugs found in the episode, but some speculate that they sensed an anti-Vietnam message in the plot.

Things have gotten a bit stranger and a bit more brutal in this set. Obviously, Number Six's patience with this mental torture is beginning to wear thin. At the same time, though, Number Two and the rest of the authorities are becoming frantic about the situation. A&E's attempt at reordering the show's episodes to fit the story better (unlike the original broadcast) seems to be paying off with a more linear and smooth transition from set to set. Now the final 3 episodes remain; what will happen to Number Six?

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Yet another satisfying transfer. Despite source damage, the color and black level balance are very impressive. Each episode looks very well cared-for, with no media defects, despite some heavy grain here and there. Certainly this is the best The Prisoner has looked in years.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The mono soundtrack prompts no complaints. It's very clear and crisp. Some sound effects even seem to fill the room more than is typical for monophonic audio. It seems A&E has addressed the audio problems of previous The Prisoner discs, and the audio now sounds better than ever. There are a few instances of slight distortion, but they're obviously from the source.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
4 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Trivia Game
  2. Photo Stills Gallery
  3. DVD-ROM Weblinks
  4. Interactive Map of 'Your Village'
Extras Review: The usual extras round off the set, from promotional trailers to a trivia quiz (designed by the current president of the Prisoner Appreciation Society). Nothing here is different from other entries in the series, but in this case, that isn't a bad thing.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

Hopefully, those who are new to The Prisoner are by now completely engrossed in the show (whether via rental or purchase), having discovered one of the truly great masterpieces of the television age. Perhaps there is a bit of sadness that the series will soon be at an end, but in my opinion, this is a good thing. Too often, great concepts are forced to over-extend themselves for too long, especially on television (The X-Files comes to mind). At 17 episodes, The Prisoner is a perfect, self-contained story about Orwellian ideas taking root in modern society. Highly recommended.

Dan Lopez 2001-04-03