Showing posts from July, 2014

Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Episode 6

To be frank, I found this episode a fairly standard resolution of the problem posed, at least to start off with - bargaining is not reserved for ordinary mortals, then. Perhaps it's also just me or a result of repeatedly watching episodes (although I've tried to get them suitably separated in time to achieve the correct seventies TV impression) but I also found the opening confusing, since it seemed very similar to the openings of other episodes. The Doctor is at his most infuriating - I love the random selection of stuff from his pockets - & I love his teasing with tales of his activities in the future tense. I've just realised what I don't like about this adventure. Plot-wise this episode is a fairly straightforward one in many ways, with elements of negotiation, bargaining, plotting, deception, & so on. However, planted on top of that is the fantastic story of Magnus Greel, & his little problem with his time cabinet. This is otherwise a completely nin

Allegory in The Prisoner: The Schizoid Man

An episode brim-full of allegory, this one, & perhaps one of the ones with the most intimate, personal themes, by which I mean identity & personhood, as well as issues of power. My one criticism of this episode is that it can become incredibly confusing, but then that has been the age-old intent of any visual medium with two characters who look the same! It starts in Number 6's cottage, which as a reproduction of his own home can be seen as an allegory for his own space & identity, or else somewhat allegorical for his life before The Village. I want to try to make an allegory of the zener cards. I feel the individual cards could be allegorical (the cube for imprisonment, the wavy lines for changeability, the cross for contradiction, etc) but I feel that would be over-elaborate. Perhaps the cards could be understood as an allegory for humanity, taking the time to play a 'game' of the trendy folk-psychology of the time, in the midst of the barbarism of The Vill

The Avengers: My Take on the Springbok Radio Shows and Other Steed Actors

Image credit: I was reading a blog post the other day ( ) by someone who also didn't like Big Finish's releases of the lost Avengers episodes, for some of the same reasons as me, & interestingly because it takes the show out of its native 1960s milieu, but predominantly because of the lack of Patrick Macnee & Ian Hendry. She seemed to feel that the only person who could play Steed is Patrick McNee, a view I have heard often stated. In fact I must be the odd one out because I don't feel Macnee is the only possible Steed. I'm *way* too young to have seen the short-lived stage play, but I have come across three other depictions of Steed, in fact I usually have at least some of the radio shows on my mp3 player. The radio show ran on Springbok Radio in South Africa on weekday evenings in a fifteen-minute slot from 1971 to 1973. I

Allegory in The Prisoner: Free for All

This is the point at which I have to stop being creative & have to fall in line with the conventional allegorical reading of The Prisoner, because it's just too obvious to be ignored. In this episode The Village is very clearly allegorical of our world, & comments on various institutions (government, the press) are clearly being made. There's simply no escaping that. What is frankly shocking, though, is how countercultural the commentary really is. We all know that those who go into politics choose to do so generously, & for the good of the community, don't we? In addition to the frequent criticism that politicians are self-serving time-wasters (& if my local councillor should read this, I still didn't vote for you, even after you finally sorted that problem with the rubbish), this Prisoner depicts those in power much more cynically, as forced into position, & then really being completely powerless. Either way, the allegory is very simple & ve

Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Episode 5

In which things started to fall into place. Actually that would probably be my one criticism of this Doctor Who adventure: for four out of the six episodes it's been something of a mass of conflicting plot threads & divergent possibilities. In fact, in common with many of these multi-part series, I would think it could be a four-parter as a maximum. I'm aware that I also tend to say this about Sapphire & Steel, so it's possible that it's me reacting to the pace of 1970s TV by wanting it to speed up a bit. Of course, this being Doctor Who, the answer to what's going on is weird. Of course the Peking Homoncurus has to be a 'dashed queer story': I like the way Litefoot easily falls into the Watson role. The other caricatures - steam laundries & what have you - come thick & fast. Jago envisages the situation as a business opportunity; while I love the way his showmanship comes to the forefront when he meets Litefoot. I haven't heard any of B

Allegory in The Prisoner: A. B. And C.

I always get the impression that this one isn't a favourite with the fans - presumably because of the inserted non-Village scenes that can make it feel less 'Prisonery'. I gather that there were several different titles mooted for this episode, but of course the final titles is apposite given Number 6's preoccupation with not being a number. He's a number, his associates are letters - personally I can't see a great deal of difference. The irony is, of course, that it isn't A, B, or C whom Number 2 is looking for but ironically himself: if there was any episode that was ever a morality play, this is the one. I am reminded of McGoohan's reference to Number 6 as an 'Everyman', & this episode reminds me strongly of the eponymous mediaeval play: 'The premise is that the good and evil deeds of one's life will be tallied by God after death, as in a ledger book. The play is the allegorical accounting of the life of Everyman, who represent

Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng Chiang, Episode 4

Since my last blog post I've been continuing to watch The Prisoner & thinking about allegory. I've also been watching Minder. I'm not minded to blog about it. I think this may be because it is *so* seventies - the trousers are stay-prest, the shirts are nylon, the interiors are revolting, the chest hair is luxuriant, & I glimpsed a medallion or two - all of this is painful because I remember the seventies & think those years can only be looked back on favourably by those who don't remember them. Now the seventies looking back at the sixties are a different matter. Another different matter is Doctor Who, & even though this one was broadcast in the seventies, it always had the good sense to be not-too-seventies, even when contemporary. Of course the whole point of Doctor Who is the unusual approach to time. In this case I find I keep thinking of the Series 6 Avengers episode, Fog, which is set in a very sixties reconstruction of the London of Jack the R

Allegory in The Prisoner: The Chimes of Big Ben

I always think the reference to Big Ben in the title of this episode is interesting. Number 6 never actually gets as far as Big Ben, in fact it is not what he is looking for in this episode. Instead I think this episode is actually an allegory for our aspirations, our weaknesses, & how our aspirations become weaknesses if we let them. Looked at this way Big Ben is a symbol of what Number 6 wants - supposedly his freedom - but even that becomes such a preoccupation to him that it becomes a way in for the Village authorities to find a weakness. The imagery of course is a symbol of London, hence representative of apparent safety from The Village, but I feel can actually represent much more, since of course when we think of Big Ben we don't picture the actual bell but we picture the tower that contains it. The tower is actually the point here, always symbolic of aspirations, divorce from reality, protection, escape. Apart from the Tower of Babel & academics' towers of iv

The Avengers: Castle De'Ath

This Avengers episode is one I've rather avoided blogging about for reasons which will become apparent as we go one (actually they should be fairly obvious from the pictures). This Avengers is an interesting one - despite the sheer 'Britishness' of the show (the inverted commas are for what I perceive as its caricature of Britishness, which I believe increased - presumably for the American market - as the series wore on) The Avengers frequently shows the old landed families & the great & the good of Great Britain, as going to the dogs very quickly. In this the decayed De'Aths are contrasted with Mrs Peel, racing in as the representative of Modernity, to bring their traditional privacy to an end. In this, as so often, The Avengers is poised on a knife-edge between two ages: itself a completely time-bound idea. Fifty years after this show was made, the modernity that was trumpeted as the future has fallen into almost complete disfavour. Normally I dislike s

Allegory in The Prisoner: Arrival

I start this series of posts in fear & trembling, knowing there's nothing Prisoner fans like better than tearing apart each other's opinions. I'm also in fear & trembling at the idea of trying to get my head round even some of the allegorical concepts in the show, fear of getting stuck on an idea or not being able to find as much allegory as I'd like. So let's begin with a colossal Prisoner heresy. I'm going to call out McGoohan on this & tell him the received wisdom can't possibly be right. 'P[atrick] M[cGoohan] has stated that the show was an Allegory, [Number] 6 was an Everyman, & the Village was Society at large. That these are aspects of the show is undeniable- whether that�s all they are- hmm�.[One] should never put total faith in an artist�s version of their own art.' ( My Prisoner heresy is that I'm far from swallowing the basic allegorical premise outlined by McGoohan, in fact despi

Allegory in The Prisoner: Introduction

I must once again give a mention to Mitchell at, who once again mentions this blog this week. Obviously the reason he mentions it every week is he is a man of discernment, & I do like to think, self-deprecatingly that mine is one of the *better* blogs on television. I'm mentioning him also because I'm totally certain that the series of posts I'm starting with this one will grab his attention. That said, it's funny what does attract people on this blog - the posts on Adam Adamant - surely one of the most recherche TV series of all time - are amongst the most popular. Although perhaps because they're little known they are under-commented on elsewhere. The posts on Department S & Randall & Hopkirk don't get many hits at all, which never fails to surprise me. Of the ones I've already done on The Prisoner, Hammer into Anvil gets a disproportionate number of hits in comparison to the others. Be that as it may, for some time I've

Doctor Who: Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 AD

The apostrophe is actually on the opening titles to the film, which I'm relieved about, because it's made what's turned out to be a really good film to have a much less cumbersome title. The apostrophe, however, is not present on the original posters for the film that I've seen on tinternet. This film is based on another William Hartnell adventure, although one I haven't seen, & I'm not even sure if it survives. This one got a critical & popular thrashing, when it came out in 1966. Apart from one major plot weakness, I personally think it is better than the first daleks film. Its plot is rather elementary: any film that begins in a waste land is going to go one two ways, & each of these two films goes one of the two ways. In the case of the present one, all's well that ends well. One thing is becoming more apparent for me as I watch this film several times, purely to blog about it: for me film is Doctor Who's milieu. The grander scale