The Prisoner: Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling   Rewatch 
August 24, 2014 9:53 AM - Season 1, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Patrick McGoohan is away filming Ice Station Zebra, and a memory-wiped, body-swapped Number Six carries on in his absence.

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posted by thesmallmachine (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apart from Tomb of the Cybermen, this episode is my earliest television memory (I remember a bit with wheels seeming to go backwards). I watched most of it upside down, because I was three.
posted by Grangousier at 10:35 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

-I've never bothered to watch this one before, and I haven't missed much. It's a very fanfic-esque episode, which can be great in the right hands (Blake's 7's "Sand" comes to mind), but here is nothing special.

-I liked Stock's performance, though! It's a lower-octane version of 6, but that was inevitable, and it was a wise call not to do a straight McGoohan impression. McGoohan's Dune voiceovers also work better than I would have thought -- his mocking delivery ("That should be…adequate!") sometimes feels like an MST3K of his own show.

-And bits of the episode are formally neat: the interrupted opening sequence; 6 and 2's parallel pacing; the first-person bit where 6 wakes up in London, accompanied by early a.m. McGoohan-scatting.

-I've always hated the retcon that 6 avoids human connection in the Village out of a desire to be faithful to someone at home -- it runs against all of my ideas about the character -- but if we're doing that, we could do much worse than these glimpses of Janet Portland, an intelligent, guarded woman who's as sick of her father's business as 6 is.

-I like that they cast an older actor whose coloring is similar to McGoohan's, and who looks just a bit like him -- not just so they could plausibly use all those wide shots of 6 in the car, but also so that the primary suggestion of the swap is the theft of a decade of 6's life, rather than merely a year of his memory. The bluntedness of Stock's 6 (along with, it must be said, a sort of general suffusing bluntedness throughout the episode) plays quite successfully as 6 struggling with a body that lacks his physical energy, that can no longer get out of cars in a sufficiently cool manner.

-There was also some fun to be had in the high-camp travel sequences, ending in just the kind of village that Portmeirion would have been called upon to simulate on Danger Man.
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:40 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is one of two episodes I had never watched before starting this rewatch (Living in Harmony is the other).

This will mostly be random thoughts then:

- I really like the variation on the intro theme when StockSix is charging back into his old office.

- McGoohan's away! Let's add a love interest! And be forced to use really clunky and awkward dialogue to avoid giving 6 a name.

- Lots of stock footage in this ep, a couple of shots that I'm sure were just shot in an office block somewhere, and I'm pretty sure the set where they're holding the birthday party is from A, B, and C, as is the courtyard.

- I will admit liking the swerve with Selzman stealing StockSix's body at the end, even if it does stretch credulity a bit. Maybe just imagine Selzman and 6 having to recuperate for a day or 2.

- I think if considered as a story this episode is disposable. However, as a look at how vital McGoohan was to the production of The Prisoner, and what it might have looked like without him it's fascinating.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:12 PM on August 24, 2014

The most prominent piece is the change to the intro&credits.
Another male 2 with gizmos of flashing lights and beeping tones.
Did they replace all of Our Hero's clothing too? I don't think they are the same size.
Our Hero's safe is behind the TV. TV is the place for secrets.
The backgrounds for the driving scenes look very similar to scenes in Goldfinger.
The professor lives on "Portmeiron Road"

There was a safety bike with a canopy. This place gets weirder.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:06 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would've been very interested to see Prisoner's take on a body swap in a more focused episode, with McGoohan fully participating. The only part of the plan in "Schizoid Man" that really works is 6's alienation from his body through enforced left-handedness; over the series' course, we increasingly see him relying on exercise to keep him sane -- the Village's torments are mostly mental and emotional, and his body is something he can rely on. To completely detach it from his consciousness could be a very good trick, and in "Darling" the potential psychological effects of this are entirely unexplored.

(I also wonder whose job it is to restock his closet, and also why he switches from an approximation of his intro outfit into the totally un-6ish double-breasted jacket deal. Is he just getting into the persona that seems right for this face?)
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:08 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ducking back in to say that I just came across an email from 2011 in which I talk about seeing this episode (and express identical opinions to those above). Apparently I have watched it; it's just that forgettable.

Where have you gone, PMG. A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:58 PM on September 18, 2014

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