Thursday, January 15, 2009

Patrick McGoohan, RIP

I don't usually run obits here, for fear that they might take over the blog. But I have special reasons for mentioning the passing of Patrick McGoohan. First, when I was young, he was the dude I wanted to be -- and The Prisoner remains the TV show by which I measure all other shows. Second, and foremost, you can watch all episodes of The Prisoner online, for free, legally, here.

McGoohan was unique. His staunch individualism made him a hero to the counterculture movement, yet he was himself a conservative Catholic. (That is, he was conservative in his personal life; I know nothing about his politics.) He turned down the role of James Bond because he disapproved of Bond's womanizing. He stayed married to the same woman for most of his adult life, and he wrote her a love letter every day. Or so the story goes.

The best Prisoner episodes: Chimes of Big Ben, Schizoid Man, Many Happy Returns, The Girl Who Was Death (a frivolity, but a great frivolity), Dance of the Dead (atomospheric, paranoid, and nearly plotless), and -- of course -- the sublime Fall-Out.

McGoohan: "We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…"


Anonymous said...

No body can hold them accountable but they can punish any who says anything. I remember something from the Clinton era, may be my accounting of what happened a little bit colored by my view of Israeal but still. I remembered Hillary was in Bosnia (or some other place up there) during that war. She said there that she support a palastinian state. She finished her tour up there and came back a couple of weeks later the Monica Lewinsky took a life of its own. I could never get over the connection in my mind you have to be blind not to see it. She never uttered any thing of the sort again.

Anonymous said...

Aw, RIP, Patrick McGoohan.

Thanks, Joseph...amen to everything you said about The Prisoner.

Anonymous said...

I really liked Patrick McGoohan. First saw him in Ice Station Zebra. Used to wonder why I did not see more of him. Turns out he had standards. Good for him.

Anonymous said...

I am not a number! I am a free mason!

Amazing looking back today and reading such an astute and to-the-point criticism of modern capitalist conditions by someone who was a well-known figure in the media.

Another observation that sticks in the mind, albeit probably from a decade later, is from Richard Condon's intro to Walter Bowart's Operation Mind Control:

The father of Grock the clown, having had his legs broken in eight places by his father for professional reasons broke Grock's legs in eight places to be certain that the child would grow up walking grotesquely so as to ensure his eminence as a clown. The act brought much pain and indignity forever but, Grock's father reasoned, was there not a wholly justifiable element involved? [...] [Bowart demonstrates] that we have become Grock.

Worth mentioning the role played by the BBC in getting a controllable pseudo-opposition in the 1960s. See also the world's first live global television link, showing the Beatles singing "All you Need is Love" in June 1967 (with flowers in their hair, I think), after Watts had already risen and Detroit was about to... This was two years after the Beatles accepted their MBEs. Also I've always been very suspicious about how Trocchi and the paedophile Ginsberg managed to rent the Royal Albert Hall in 1965.


Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy said...

Best. Prisoner. Episode. Ever: "A. B. and C."

IMHO, of course.

Anne said...

Patrick McGoohan.May he rest in peace. I may have been the only young female in the US who choose to watch Patrick in 17th centery garb in " The Scarecrow" on Disney, over the Beatles on Ed Sullivan on those two Sunday nights in '64.

He was a hotie