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Showing posts from January, 2016

Apartheid in The Prisoner: Living in Harmony and The Girl who was Death

Normally, when I take one of my meanders through The Prisoner and try to see it through one possible interpretative filter, I like to take it one episode at a time and really chew it over. This has rather hit a snag when I have come to Living in Harmony and tried to see echoes of South African apartheid. I am afraid that my initial theory, that you can see echoes of pretty well anything you like in The Prisoner if you try, since it was written to be open to multiple interpretations, has been proved correct. In my own mind, I have already been forced to come to the conclusion that perhaps the apartheid reading is not the best one to understand The Prisoner; in fact I still think the best way to understand it is the theory that John Drake of Danger Man was an agent who deliberately put himself in the position of seeing what was happening in the retirement Village for dangerous people, which he himself had helped set up. What I have noticed, is that most interpretations of The Prisone

The Losers

I see from the sparcity of information on the internet that this TV show is both little-known, and in fact was unsuccessful at the time of broadcast. The material is not promising, true: Leonard Rossiter plays an out-of-luck wrestling promoter, who takes on what he thinks is a dead loser so that he can make money from bribes from the other side. The trouble is his protégé turns out to be preternaturally gifted at wrestling, despite being unpromising material. This may sound as if it is Rigsby-does-wrestling, and indeed it can seem like that, because of course on one level Rossiter is always Rossiter and never anybody else. But despite being so apparently unpromising, this show is excellent. This is of course due to excellent writing by funny man par excellence Alan Coren, one time editor of Punch, which adds a whole sophistication and subtlety lacking in, say, Rising Damp. The uninspiring base plot is enlivened by a series of hilarious vignettes: the scenes where they meet the qu

Mister Rose: First Impressions

I published several times last year on the subject of what would happen to the cult TV fan if the supply of ‘never seen’ series were to run out, an idea which got taken up to some extent on the blogosphere and certainly seemed to find echoes in fellow classic TV fans. On consideration, I feel there are probably several things which happen to the cult TV fan: I doubt there is anybody who literally has a cut-off date for television of, say, 1970 or 1980, so the classic TV fan will go on to find newer TV series which appeal. I have this week been on annual leave; when asked by normal people what I am doing with it I am replying that I am doing nothing, but the cult TV fan will understand that I am staying at home and recreating with some new DVDs. This is not nothing, of course, but one cannot tell the laity the names of the TV series that one is watching because of the ensuing silence. I have found myself returning to Dr Who serials of the 1960s (watch this space for forthcoming blog

Apartheid in The Prisoner: Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling

I was in two minds about whether to post on this episode at all. On the one hand, its relevance to apartheid South Africa can be summarised by referring to quack science and social control, subjects examined at length in the whole series. On the other hand as I watched the episode again just now, I was struck by how many, and how varied, were the possible echoes of apartheid if you look for them. People's personal values are sacrificed to an ideology. The government is involved in this at the highest levels. The atmosphere of unreality necessarily created to cover up the sinister goings on. The intelligence needed to maintain control. Even the party can be seen as an image of white people's privileged, sheltered lifestyle,  buttressed by some very dodgy things indeed. And finally the use of science in the service of the ideology. In this,  this episode plugs perfectly into the ambivalent approach to science I have often noted in 1960s TV shows. Science is both seen as the wo

Doctor Who: The. Invasion

New year and I feel like some Doctor Who. I will return to finishing my series of posts on apartheid in The Prisoner, but since this is supposed to be a blog, it had better primarily cover what TV I’m actually watching! That said, I was very chuffed by the reception of my recent post comparing The Avengers with Batman, which started off as a stray thought in my grasshopper mind, but has had an incredible number of hits since being published. Another comparison which isn’t often made is of Doctor Who with Sapphire and Steel. I don’t think this one can be drawn out too far, but it is this Doctor Who adventure which has made me think of it. The parallels are obvious when you think about it – the protagonists appear in a random place and time, not always under their own volition, and there is usually some crisis. The protagonists are the ‘experts’ come about the spot of trouble, and while the time theme is the undergirding of everything in Doctor Who it becomes literally everything in