SEEING YOU: DECODING
overview by the author
SeeingYou: Decoding The Prisoner is
a book for the reader who wants some analysis and some depth
but wishes to avoid a conventionally dull academic approach.
As well as being an essential read for serious Prisoner
devotees, the book examines the whole nature of TV as a
medium and attempts to define a new aesthetic for it...
SeeingYou: Decoding The Prisoner attempts to answer
a number of key questions about the series. Who is
the Prisoner ? Where is the Village? Which
side has built it, East or West? What is that weird
white ball? Who is Number One ? Why do
the debates still rage thirty years later? Howdid
Patrick McGoohan gain so much control over a TV series that
he created a vehicle for his own dark, idiosyncratic view
of modern life? How does the series break with the
conventions of television to deliver its still unsurpassed
why can the Prisoner never really escape?
ONE: The Prisoner As Television Text looks
at the series as a genre product - in particular as both
a secret agent and science fiction piece. We see how McGoohan
distances himself from the misogynistic but (then) fashionable
attitudes of the James Bond-type 'super spy'. We examine
how television series fill many of the functions of traditional
mythical stories, and how TV heroes become our modern mythological
hero-figures, reflecting the concerns and aspirations of
the TV viewing public.
also look at how the series was made, and how Patrick McGoohan
came to be in the extraordinary position of being able to
assume full authorial control of the series.
see how he gradually steered it away from the conventional
structures of TV (and the setting of the Village
itself) towards the bizarre and unprecedented final episodes,
which in many ways were a TV counterpart to the psychedelic
era then exploding in the music world.
discussed are the theatrical (and frequently Shakespearean)
elements of the series and its cinematic qualities, achieved
at the cost of the apparently 'impossible' work schedule
that McGoohan imposed on his production team. The nature
of television as an artistic medium - and of the TV series
as a particularly 'televisual' form - is examined in detail,
and the case is made for The Prisoner as a
classic 'television text'.
TWO: The Prisoner As Allegory is a detailed
analysis and commentary of each episode which traces the
evolution of the ongoing story, from the Prisoner's
early attempts to escape to his eventual attempts to subvert
and destroy the authority of the Village. The series
is examined as an allegory - a symbolic story depicting
the modern condition - with each episode focusing on different
aspects of our society - such as education, psychology,
gender relations, politics and social control.
episodes are grouped along lines suggested by the mythological
archetypes of the inner, allegorical journey of the mythical
hero. The final episodes are examined in detail in terms
of political, social and spiritual interpretations. We examine
who Number 1 really is and look at the finally circular,
symbolic nature of the unfolding story.
THREE: The Prisoner Today looks at the
series from a 1990's perspective, and examines the extent
to which the series' prophetic vision of . . . the
whole earth as the Village . . . has come true. There
are also explorations of the'cult' surrounding the series
in the context of TV as a 'ritual' process, of issues surrounding
sexuality and gender relations in the series as well as
some speculations on The Prisoner's status
as a TV 'classic'. The
final chapter considers The Prisoner as a
'prophetic' text which forsees the 'suveillance society'
we live in today.