Showing posts from October, 2015

Apartheid in The Prisoner: Checkmate

I am becoming aware of a certain dissatisfaction as I watch through The Prisoner looking for possible allusions to South African apartheid. Checkmate has brought these dissatisfactions to a head, and I think it is for the reason that so many elements of the apartheid regime and society can be seen in The Prisoner if you look hard enough: pseudo-science, social engineering, political force, ideological underpinnings, abuse of medicine and psychology, labelling and institutionalisation theories (these were very fashionable at the time), and so on. In fact I am coming to the conclusion that apartheid was probably not the main inspiration for The Prisoner, although it indicates the openness to different allegories that the series can so easily be read in terms of apartheid. This particular episode is I think probably best read in terms of Goffman's theories around labels and institutions which were very prominent in mental health from the 1950s for several decades and used to underp

Apartheid in The Prisoner: Dance of the Dead

I feel this episode of The Prisoner may best encapsulate what it would have been like to live under apartheid. The ones we have seen so far have, as it were, represented apartheid on a policy level, and this one indicates the effects of those policies on individual lives. This not only perfectly reflects the apartheid government's approach: passing laws to perpetrate injustice, and letting them have their effect. '[His room is] the only place he can ever go, ' says Number 2, and that room encapsulates private life, not just in the sense of location or a racial classification, but in terms of ones own life. Owning a pet, choosing ones own clothes, who one is – these are the things that are affected by a totalitarian regime. Nor for nothing is the reference to the dead of relevance. I cannot be sure whether it would be anachronistic to refer to the apartheid regime's notorious death squads in this connection. Certainly the earliest news reference to them I have been

Seventies TV: Zodiac

I have had this show on my list of ones I have wanted to post about, for some time, at least six months. What has prompted me actually to get on with it, is that considering I have watched the whole series several times with growing enjoyment, I have been astonished to discover the rather mediocre reviews on the rest of the internet. That seems to be the role of this blog – the present an unerring eccentric view of TV programmes, in fact one could almost say that it embodies my own opinions! I get the impression that people penalise this show for several things – it seems that the scores on reviews are lower than the impression you would get from the actual review. So let's get the show's shortcomings out of the way first. Its production values are incredibly dated, even for 1974. It was shot on video tape, it is either completely or nearly completely studio-bound. The sets are very plainly just that – sets, including sets of the outdoors. To my mind, all of these things

The Comic Strip Presents & Others: The New Statesman

The subject of time has come up in the classic TV blogosphere this week, so of course I have to leap in and give my two penn'orth. My impression of time in the world of TV is that it depends on the programme and the viewer's first experience of it. The later Avengers were made before I was born, for example, but seem very recent to me because of my early experience of them on the young Channel Four. Many of the 1970s shows I have talked about here seem very old because they were broadcast when I was a very small child, while the shows from the 80s and 90s when I was at some very difficult ages, are etched on my memory as if yesterday. I would also suggest that older production values and social concerns can make shows seem older than newer ones. Recently I have been rediscovering a whole movement of 1980s comedy. I have posted several times here on the subject of comedy recently, and what surprises me most is how little I have posted on it. Of course this is because much o