The Prisoner: Originally broadcast from September 29, 1967 to February 1, 1968
One of the key reasons that The Prisoner captured viewers' imaginations back in the '60s was the performance of Patrick McGoohan. He was simply terrific in a difficult lead role - Number 6 was often harsh, and at worst, completely unhinged. The character may at times have seemed unsympathetic, but he was always compelling. It was a wise decision too on McGoohan's part not to saddle the character with any kind of romantic interest, avoiding any unnecessary clichés and filler storytelling.
Dealing with themes of identity, manipulation, social indoctrination and individualism versus collectivism, The Prisoner essentially started out as a traditional spy series with a surreal twist. However, the show was originally only intended to run for seven weeks, and when the episode order was extended to 17, it became increasingly deranged. Perhaps the zenith of weirdness came with the penultimate episode 'Once Upon A Time', in which Numbers 6 and 2 faced off in a battle of wits until one of them suffered a breakdown. Was it an intense, claustrophobic psychological piece, or just two actors babbling nonsense at each other? Judge for yourself by checking out a clip below:
And then there's that notorious final episode: Finally confronting the Village's master Number 1, Number 6 pulled a mask from the mysterious figure's face... only to find his own face staring back at him, cackling wildly. For those who are still smarting about the Lost finale, imagine how viewers back in the '60s must have felt about The Prisoner's utter refusal to explain away any of its insanity. Series finale 'Fall Out' provided no real answers and no real resolution, just more madness - though perhaps that's only fitting for a series this unusual.
Watch an opening sequence from The Prisoner below:
Has your mind been boggled by The Prisoner? Let us know below!