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Showing posts from August, 2015

Apartheid in The Prisoner: Free for All

It's a funny thing but I thought this episode would be an absolute gift for comparison to apartheid, so I'm astonished to find I'm having real problems finding any echoes of the South African system of the time in this show. Bearing in mind my hypothesis that, while it is possible to 'read' The Prisoner in all sorts of ways, and echoes of apartheid can certainly be seen in it, apartheid is not a primary interpretation of the show. Certainly in the case of Free for All, it is very clear that what is being shown here is quite different to the South African system, although I was expecting to find comparisons in terms of vote rigging and the way everything is predetermined. I think that probably Ian Smith's regime in the then Rhodesia would actually be a closer comparison to The Village, since there voting rights were given to all races on the basis of certain qualifications (naturally they tended to rule out blacks), rather than the entire system being se

Special Branch: The Fear of the Vintage TV fan Somewhat Assuaged

I posted  recently  about my fear that there will come a time when there is no 'new' vintage TV to be discovered, a post which certainly seems to have made a hit with the blogosphere, judging by the number of page hits. Of course this may be partly explained by the recommendation by  Mitchell Hadley  (thank you), who has made me realise the reason that the hit counter for posts about The Man from UNCLE has suddenly gone up, even though I too don't think I'll bother watching the film.   Having seen it as a recommendation on Amazon and hummed and ha'ed over it, I saw the discs for the 1973 series of Special Branch for sale yesterday and bought them on spec. I am delighted to say that while I didn't initially warm to this show, having watched a few episodes I think I have found another quality 1970s series. Except this isn't a 1970s series. It's a 1960s – 1970s series, which went through a major transformation of approach, cast, and production v

Apartheid in The Prisoner: A B and C

I was very tempted to omit this episode all together, in my examination of possible echoes of South African apartheid in The Prisoner. This was not for the obvious reason – that it was difficult or impossible to find such echoes in this episode – at all, in fact it seems that it is possible to see almost anything referred to in The Prisoner is you try hard enough. The obvious springboard into this episode for me was the ‘scientific’ nature of the tests used on Number 6, clearly an immediate reflection of the 1960s’ ambivalence towards science I have noted so often on this blog. ‘Science,’ in this world-view is both set up as the authority which has all knowledge and opens the door to future technology, and also as a source of danger if it gets into the hand of the wrong people. The obvious reference to apartheid here is the pseudo-science which was used to underpin the ideology of neighbourly separateness, with most advantage being given to whites. It is probably important to note a

Book Review: The Avengers Dossier

I bought a new (to me) book about The Avengers this week. It is The Avengers Dossier by Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping (Virgin Books, London, 1998. ISBN 0863697542). Given the date, I assume it was one of the flurry of publications about the show timed to coincide with the film, and I'm horrified to notice that that is well on the way to being twenty years ago. I'm surprised that I haven't ever seen this book before, since I bought several books about The Avengers at the time, and I was one of the people who loved the film, saw it multiple times, and got caught up in the fandom. I could never understand the critical hammering the film got, and reading round on the internet I can't understand the critical hammering this book gets either: 'Rarely have I come across a book with so many errors. While the authors have done a decent amount of research and present some intriguing details of the show's history, their work comes up alarmingly short

Apartheid in The Prisoner: The Chimes of Big Ben

The portrait of Verwoerd's government is removed from the parliament building. Cape Town, 1996 What can an attempt at escaping The Village and aiming for London possibly have to do with a Nazi-inspired eugenic oppressive regime on the other side of the world? The clue is in the title. Big Ben (although technically it is only the name of the bell) is of course the common name for the clock on Britain’s Houses of Parliament. Its chime is a symbol of Britain wherever we go. As such it represents the State, being placed in the major legislative building, it means home to the colonial nodding over his sundowner, it means freedom for the prisoner who has sneaked in a radio to listen to the World Service. Of course in this episode the significance (which I have phrased in uncharacteristically sentimental terms) of Big Ben is turned on its head. In reality, Big Ben becomes the symbol of the State’s secret imprisonment of people and spying on them.  In this it is very clear that the St

Apartheid in The Prisoner: Arrival

I published an introduction to this series of posts on apparent references to South African Apartheid here , at least partly to force myself to get on with watching through the series again and writing the posts. I realise that since then I have been avoiding the subject, which on re-reading through my first post, I think is caused partly by the way I planned to deal with the series by subject rather than episode. I have decided, therefore, to write another series of posts about The Prisoner, focussing particularly on echoes of Apartheid, and going episode-by-episode. I would predict that I will be forced to omit certain episodes rather than post on them, with a comment that I don’t feel there are references to apartheid in them. Imagine my delight, therefore, on watching Arrival in a mindful way, to find numerous possible echoes of apartheid. I theorised originally that The Prisoner would be open to an apartheid-based interpretation, but that no final identification or evidence of

The fear of the vintage TV fan, with specific reference to Arthur Haynes

There is a fear or anxiety prevalent among those who love classic TV. I don't say cult TV as such, since if you are, say, a Whovian, the franchise is always going to be so strong that there will always be more. If your liking is for any particular genre of TV, then something else you like is bound to come along. No, this fear more affects the fans of classic TV, and is one of the reasons people flock to see newly discovered shows, and scan the 'wiped' news. And it is this: What if there is nothing good left to be discovered? I actually find myself feeling rather anxious at the very act of typing those words. I also get that feeling whenever I look on the Network website to see what they've released recently or look at the recommendations on Amazon. You see, the trouble is this: it's been a while since I've discovered a new show I've never seen. What if there aren't any more? Now obviously I am a great fan of The Avengers, and I think one of the re