Sunday, 24 April 2011

Not A Number - Partick McGoohan A Life

   I'm not really a fan of Patrick McGoohan, although of both Danger Man & the Prisoner, and I have enjoyed some of his early films, namely Hell Drivers for one. So really I'm not likely to actually buy a copy of the latest biography on the life of Patrick McGoohan by Rupert Booth.
   I have read one review of the book, but it neither said anything of the real content of the biography, apart from McGoohan being a secretive man, one of contradictions. Being a Catholic, and an inquisitive man, who avoids convention. Suggesting that by the 1970's McGoohan was an alcoholic, having used booze to escape stress, well who hasn't? Also mentioned in the review are what actresses Annette Andre and Angela Browne had to say about McGoohan when they worked with him on the Prisoner, but then I can find other sources to read what professional people have to say about Patrick McGoohan. I wonder how deeply Rupert Booth has delved into the private life of the 'late' Patrick McGoohan? Did he for example contact McGoohan's widow and family for example, or any of McGoohan's personal friends? Somehow I seriously doubt it, although I could be wrong. But somehow I doubt very much that I'll be purchasing this book, as I have no desire to read a book that might simply revolve around McGoohan's professional life.
If you, who may read this, have read this book, perhaps you might wish to post your feelings on this book. I'm Piet Hein                                                                                   

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Outsider

   The Outsider is an unused script for the Prisoner written by Moris Farhi. The script opens with the early morning sunshine and No.6 acting in the most peculiar way. He's on top of the cliffs, measuring the edge with a length of string with hooks at both ends. Then jots the measurement down in a notebook. There is a heading in the notebook cliffs West and below that the figure of a segment of geological map is taking shape. And beach area 18 along with a completed map of the particuliar scale 1:1000 and suddenly there is a drone of an aircraft!
    No.6 reacts instantly at hearing the drone of the aircraft which instantly reaches a deafening crescendo. He cups his ears whilst trying to spot the aircraft, then the drone cuts out, instead a whistling whine, and an explosion tears the air. There is a gyser of smoke and fire shoots up in the distance. No.6 pockets his notebook and runs in the direction of the column of smoke, zig zagging through the trees. He finds the pilot who ejected before the aircraft impacted with the ground.
   Finding the pilot, who's first instinct is to go for his gun, but then thinks better of it seeing as how the approaching figure is unarned. He addresses No.6 in some indistinct language, a cross between Latin and Nordic. No.6 asks the pilot if he is the only one, but there comes no reply. He asks if the pilot speaks English, there is a moments hesitation, then his English is perfect and accentless. A brief conversation breaks out between the two. The pilot works for an outfit the Meteorological Bureau weather observation. He saw the seaside town....He asks if No.6 is a Forester?
No.6 "No,"
Pilot "A Gamekeeper?"
"No, a Prisoner."
"Aren't we all? On parole?"
"No.6 examines the parachute
Pilot "A Goverment issue!"
"What Governement?"
"How many have you got?"
"Hows the leg?"
"I'll survive."
   No.6 manages to get the pilot into a cave, it's mouth well camouflaged with undergrowth and foliage. Inside No.6 checks the walls for hidden surveillance, there is none. The cave is only home to bats who reside there. The pilot has a survival kit, compass, which No.6 istantly sees as being useful, along with a map. The map depicts the southern tip of America, Argentina, Chile, and the Falklands. Although the pilot is injured, No.6 ties him up in the cave, the pilot referring to himself as the Prisoner's Prisoner!
   During opening exchanges within the cave, the two men engage in a cat-and-mouse game about the supposed location of the village. The map found on the pilot suggests South America, perhaps even the Falklands Islands. Yet No.6 dismisses this theory by referrence to the stars and especially the Great Bear, which cannot be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. After this strange sparring, there is the odd scene in which the back of the pilots map is rubbed on the wall of the cave to reveal a secret chart, the location in The Chimes of Big Ben. This was also the area identified as the Village's location in that particular episode. It is possible that the area of the Baltic was intended to have been the original location for the village, behind the Iron Curtain.
     The story line then unfolds with No.6 determined to use the pilot to concoct an escape plan. And the main village action of the script concerns a game of poker between No.2 and No.6, No.6's chair having been wired to a lie detector on the Control Room. But No.6 spots the wire and thereby spoiling No.2's plan. But this is a most interesting premise, the village could have probed No.6 for information about the crashed aircraft, and certainly about the whereabouts of the missing pilot. This under the guise of monitoring No.6's responses in a harmless conversation during the poker game.
    Then the action moves to the Palace of Fun which is never used or even mentioned in any of the 17 episodes of the Prisoner, although it appears on the Map of Your Village. In the Palace of Fun No.6 visits No.2 in the thermal baths. But No.2 confronts No.6 about the whereabouts of the pilot. No.6 refuses to give any such information away, and is duly taken away to the hospital where he is subjected to five hours of torture in a 'Non-gravitational chamber.' This torture would have involved in No.6 being left weightless and subjected to extreme temperatures, loud noises and psychedelic lighting effects.
    The climax of the story involves an intriguing plot which called for a helicopter to rescue the pilot using a transmitter beacon hidden in the pilots flying suit. The transmitter having been activated and hidden as a crafty decoy, while No.6 lights a bonfire on the hillside. However this would have been another decoy as No.6 and the pilot signal the helicopter by lamp from the beach.
    No.83, mysteriously turns up on the beach and joins No.6 and the pilot. No.83 who is said to be an Undergraduate who is studying for her exams, and who has been assigned to No.6, who he rejected in the Palace of Fun.
    No.83 "I've been searching for you, it is my duty to please you...then I saw him" pointing to the pilot.
    Pilot "I was outside looking for you, and there she was." Imitating 83's voice "I have come to please you! "What is she, mad?"
    83 "A pleasure hostess!" she says proudly.
{This is the first insinuation of sex in the village}
    But the piloit isn't keen on taking the girl with them, in fact he wants to kill her, having taken out his gun. She's happy here, our world won't make her happy. And even No.83 wants to be killed.
    "Please....I'm so happy. Yes kill me! Kill me. Please don't take me..."
    But No.6 is adamant that the girl goes with them. So the beacon on the beach is lit, a signal transmitted, and a helicopter despatched  to make the rescue of the pilot, all carefully observed by No.2 and the Supervisor in the Control Room. In fact the plan for the escape would have succeeded if only No.6 had not drunk the cup of drugged coffee!
    It had all been one of No.2's little games. the pilot hadn't crashed at all, that had been staged, an explosion, the plane wreckage scattered about. The pilots broken ankle, the cyanide capsule....all psychological warfare. The village never does anything by half measures!
    No.6 "I guessed as much. But one musn't pass any chances. Good training. Was it worth your while?"
Pilot "Indeed. It should convince you there is no-one you can trust, no-one can help you. There is no-way out."
    This after No.6 has awakened in the Georgian residence of No.2 who offers him tea. The pilot is the new No.2. After a short interview No.6 leaves the Georgian residence. Around him the village is coming to life. He starts walking towards his cottage, a man unbroken. The camera moves to an aerial panoramic view of the village. Two prison gates suddenly clang shut in the foreground. In the centre of the screen we see a white dot coming at us like a bullet. It is the face of the Prisoner. It stops just behind the fade out.

    There is no indication why this script was rejected. Indeed information has it that The Outsider was to have gone into production in January 1967. Moris Farhi was only told by Script Editor George Markstein at the very last minute that the proposed episode had been dropped. This on the word of Patrick McGoohan, on the premise that heros do not birdwatch. The script called for No.6 to observe the migratory birds so as to assertain which part of the world the village might be. And during the torture scene of extreme temperatures, this would cause No.6 to sweat. As McGoohan thought it to be, heros don't sweat!
   To my mind The Outsider would have made one of the strongest scripts of the Prisoner series. A pity that it was not included.

I'm Piet Hein

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Don't Get Yourself Killed!

Don't Get Yourself Killed is one of two unused script for the Prisoner, written by Gerald Kelsey. A brief synopsis would run as that No.6 encounters the Escape Committee, which consists of a group of villagers who claim the right to vet all escape attempts, much like the escape committees of WWII Prisoner of War camps. No.6 initially shuns them, but is then coerced into joining them.
    Through his meeting with a member of the Escape Committee known as 'the Miner,' who appears to be attempting to dig his way out of the village, No.6 concocts an escape plan which involves the Miner and an oddball of the villages administration referred to as 'HOF', the head of Facility of the Environmental Adjustment Department. It is this bizarre figure who is responsible for the loudspeaker 're-educational lectures' which flood the village, forcing residents to repeat, parrot fashion, nonsensical slogans like "Individuality is the expression of revolt against the Community" as they go about their daily business.
    The plot requires the 'HOF' to defy No.2's orders and bring No.6 in for conditiong when he observes that No.6 is refusing to take part in a lecture. A sequence in which No.6 is brought into the facility on a travelator device, like a parcel mechanically handled in a conveyor.
   No.6 refuses to co-operate with the 'HOF' and later, somewhat unconvincingly, who suddenly declares an interest in joing No.6 and the Miner in an escape attempt, provided that he is paid for his help. As it happens, the Miner has discovered gold in his tunnel and No.6 offers to pay the 'HOF in gold ore.
   Between the three of them, they concoct an escape plan which involves stealing a helicopter from the village's Helicopter Service Depot, but the plot is foiled at the very last moment, thanks to greed of the miner who refuses to take off without his sack of gold.
    Curiously the script of Don't Get Yourself Killed has the grand looking Georgian house as the residence of No.2. This would have been Portmeirion's pink and white Unicorn cottage, which was originally intended for No2's residence, and not the Green Dome. But there was trouble with the the undergrowth, and the large pair of wrought iron gates getting in the way of camera angles. Also there was supposed to have been a gold mine at Portmeirion at the back of the Hotel. However the idea of a 'Helicopter Service Depot' seems ridiculous, and to be able to actually steal a helicopter suggests very lax security.And for there to have been an actual escape committee, surely that would have been stamped out as soon as one had been formed! Yet thinking about it, there are 'Jammers' in the village, as described in the episode It's Your Funeral, but I don't think the two things are the same. Jammers only talk about their plots to create mischief, they don't actually take action against the village, or attempt to escape!
    Anyway the script for Don't Get Yoruself Killed turned into fools gold, and I feel that the Prisoner series would not have been made all the stronger for this scripts inclusion.. However having said that, I found the script worked rather well, certainly better than that of Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, and was quite eerie with the re-education lectures, and I liked very much the slogan "Individuality is the expression of revolt against the community," such a slogan would have fitted in nicley in the episode A Change of Mind!
   There were also several ideas floating about at the time for further scripts for the Prisoner, such as a Magicin coming to the village along with a funfair. And when No.6 is placed inside the Magician magic cabinet.....No.6 disappears!
   Next time there's some "pilot error" in the second unused script the Outsider by Moris Farhi.
I'm Piet Hein

Sunday, 3 April 2011

They Will Get Me Eventually - Wherever I go!

   "They will get me eventually, wherever I go" are the final words spoken by the retiring No.2 in It's Your Funeral. Is that why at the end of that episode, the new no.2 was surprised to see the departing helicopter suddenly turn back towards the village? Perhaps the departing No.2 thought about it, and wasn't prepared to escape the village, and then be constantly looking over his shoulder.
   But it does take time, to find someone you know, sometimes it's so difficult they have to employ other means, and other people. Take No.73 for example. She was brought to the village because 'they' couldn't find her husband, and so expected 73 to talk, to tell them where 'they' could find her husband. 73 told No.2 that her husband was still over there, wherever 'there' is, behind the Iron Curtain presumably, depending of course on which side of the Iron Curtain you're on to begin with! But it would seem that 'they' knew that 73's husband was with the woman Mariah, No.2 has a photograph of the pair together. So if 'they' had the photograph, presumably 'they' also knew where No.73's husband was. So why not simply wait until her husband goes to see Mariah agan, and pick him up then?
    Professor Jacob Seltzman is another fellow 'they' had problems finding. Only this time they employed No.6 to find Professor Seltzman. And to make sure No.6 co-oporated, 'they' put him through a mind transference process. In other words, fail in the task, and the Prisoner's mind would remain inside the Colonel's body for the rest of his life, and vice versa. Well that's the impression given, although to put things right between the Prisoner and the Colonel, all that had to be done was to put them through the same mind transference process they were original put through. I mean it's hardly rocket science is it!
I'm Piet Hein