90. THE PRISONER 

Premiere Episode: Written by George Markstein and David Tomblin  

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Aired: CBS, 1968

A strange, psychedelic amalgam of Cold War spy fiction, sci-fi and Kafka-esque anti-authoritarianism, The Prisoner starred Patrick McGoohan as Number Six. The first of the series’ 17 hours sees McGoohan’s character resign angrily from his spy job, whereupon he goes home to pack for vacation, is drugged, and wakes up on a mysterious island village. “The Village” is at once bucolic and cookie-cutter, almost like a theme park. That all of this happens during the opening title sequence is an indication that the story has yet stranger turns to make. Number Six becomes a sort of rat in a maze, surveilled to prevent escape – that is, not without giving up information. McGoohan was a principal collaborator in getting The Prisoner to air and on its subsequent scripts, working with producer David Tomblin and script supervisor George Markstein. AMC tried a recent remake, but the original is, well, original.

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