Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Prisoner: It's Your Funeral

‘It’s Your Funeral’ was the eleventh episode of ‘The Prisoner’, originally broadcast on the 8th of December, 1967.

It’s probably the most densely plotted of all ‘Prisoner’ episodes, although its complexity seems contrived rather than clever. Number Six uncovers a plot to assassinate the outgoing Number Two (Andre Van Gylenhall). Concerned that this will lead to reprisals, Six decides to intervene and, in an unlikely volte face, reports the plotters to the new Number Two (our mate Derren Nesbitt, resplendent with a peroxide bouffant and massive glasses) – the new Number Two, however, says he doesn’t believe him – although, in actual fact, he simply isn’t interested in the warning – he already knows all about the plot and is doing all he can to make sure it comes to fruition…

The estimable Mr. Nesbitt has said that he had no idea what was going on, received no instruction whatsoever, and so played the role in a state of perpetual confusion, and that this feeling was beginning to spread across the production. To make matters worse, Patrick McGoohan was apparently feeling the pressure by this point, and dealing with it by being extremely difficult and aggressive on set, most notably frenziedly throttling Alan Bradley out of ‘Coronation Street’ during an unnecessarily heated fight scene.

‘It’s Your Funeral’ is packed with incident, but it gives the impression of being slightly rushed and cobbled together. McGoohan had apparently only wanted to make seven episodes, but was talked into making more despite his concern that it would spread the material too thinly (interestingly, the seventh episode broadcast was ‘Many Happy Returns’, which would have provided a brilliantly enigmatic and ironic end to the show). I’m grateful for ALL the episodes, but some are more focused than others, and several are deeply flawed. That said, ‘The Prisoner’ is the greatest television series of all time, so it’s all relative, isn’t it?

1 comment:

  1. "Many Happy Returns" was actually the thirteenth episode to enter production, although it was the seventh broadcast, so in terms of ideas and such it was some way after "It's Your Funeral", which I think was about the eighth to be begun. In some ways though, all the episodes were part of a whole. When we see the first Rover attack in "Arrival", the close-up is actually of Alan Bradley and not that bloke we think it was. It appears that Bradley was filmed being attacked by Rover but that bit never got used in the Funeral episode, but later McGoohan dropped the frames of that close-up into "Arrival" to make that first attack more dramatically intense. Film-making is the art of a convincing illusion I suppose.