|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Thursday, January 15, 2009 |
( 1/15/2009 07:52:00 AM ) Bill S.
McGOOHAN: I was seventeen-going-on-eighteen when The Prisoner debuted on American television: an age where I was just getting primed to the idea that stories could have more than one meaning. Actor/writer Patrick McGoohan's twist-y sci-spy series was just the right vehicle for a geek like yours truly to take this idea further. Though they never used the character's name in the series, you knew the character was John Drake, the hero of the more conventional Danger Man/Secret Agent. I remember watching the series with my father, a big James Bond fan at the time, who wasn't that impressed with the show's free-wheeling finale. Me, I loved it -- even if I didn't really get what the hell was going on in it. Like everybody else, I liked to pretend I knew what it was about.
The Prisoner helped pave the way for more, openly complex teleseries, though, admittedly, it took some time for this idea to take root. As an admirer of the show, I have to admit to feeling no small sense of frustration over the path that McGoohan's career took in the years following. Though skillfully menacing playing the heavy in a variety of movies and teevee series, it was all work-for-hire from a man we knew could do so much more if given more creative control. Still, he was a great villain: his clipped delivery made him an ideal foil for Peter Falk's Columbo, a series on which he did multiple guest turns, also serving as occasional writer and director.
It was always a pleasure to see him on screen, even in an empty calorie flick like Silver Streak. Each time I saw him, a part of me flashed on the boyish exhilaration I felt the first time watching Number Six struggle to escape the island which may have been nothing more than his mind's creation. R.I.P. John Drake.