anything else The Prisoner has had more outings on DVD than
any other cult TV series. All have been aching for a full-on
platter of extras to help tell the often equalling fascinating
and mysterious tale of the programme's production. So as the
programme celebrates being officially middle-aged Network have
taken down this gauntlet and rise superbly to the occassion.
This is simply the best release the series has seen from how
to series itself looks on disc to the a feast of extra materials.
If you don't know about the series or about Patrick MaGoohan
then you're on this site by error so instead of reciting the
concept of the show lets just crack on with reviewing the presentation,
transfer and extras.
The episodes themselves are simply stunning with excellent restoration
work giving us a set of prints that are crisp, well saturated
with balanced darks and lights. Audio is equally good with a
nicely achieved Dolby 5.1 soundtrack for each episode. Netwrok
achieved this by going back to available film elements and it
was certainly worth it from the results. The series has never
looked or sounded better.
What of the extras? Well strap yourself in here is a whirlwind
The crowning jewels of the vast extras selection has to be the
feature-length retrospective documentary Don't Knock Yourself
Out that attempts to interview practically all surviving cast
and crew (indeed some have died since it was made) and throws
no punches in the anecdotes surrounding the imposing figure
of Magoohan or the often frazzled production of the series.
Magoohan himself simply supplies a written note that prefaces
the programme leaving other interviewees to detail how the lead
actor lost the plot many times. There is a nice balance of production
and acting personel present giving the documentary a more balanced
tone than the crew heavy commentaries. This is possibly Network's
fiinest inhouse produced extra and wouldn't be out of place
being transmitted on BBC 4.
Next is another fine volume from the pen of TV historian Andrew
Pixely. Network's previous release of Danger Man had a fantastic
paperback by Pixley and his Prisoner book is bigger, more indepth
and varied. Apart from detailing the programmes creation and
filming Pixley also includes episode by episode viewing notes,
a section on unused storylines, another on story treatments
and pages from the original script of Arrival. All this and
a bibliography for further reading. This book alone is a masterpeice
of TV research if nothing else. Again this would stand well
as a commercial book in itself.
The audio commentaries really could have done with a moderator
as some of the commentaries involve some of the same information
or anecdotes being trotted out. A moderator would also have
kept things ticking over when there are some noticeable lapses
in chat. The first episode Arrival has a pacey track involving
production manager Bernie Williams and film librarian Tony Sloman
that kicks things off well as Bernie and Tony make a solid effort
of keeping information and details delivered. The Chimes of
Big Ben has a track involving a solitary Vincent Tilsey (writer)
who would have benefitted from a second person with him to help
bouce around topics.
Disc two offers two episode commentaries with director Pat Jackson
on duty for the episode The Schizoid Man and director Peter
Graham Scott on The General. The commentary for The General
is in retrospect a sad one as this one of the final projects
the director was invilved with before he died. Scott provides
a nice solid overview of the episode as does Jackson on his.
Dance With The Dead is featured on disc three has a three-way
chat track involving a returning Williams and Sloman alongside
film editor John S Smith. Again a moderator could have balanced
the ongoings with the three commentators often talking over
each other and attempting to direct the flow of anecdotes in
opposite or differing directions. On the fourth disc writer
Roger Parkes is present as commentator on the episode A Change
Of Mind. This episode was Parkes first screen credit and he
takes this to heart by making the commentary an overview of
his life story and career - and all the better for it.
The final commentary is on the final episode, Fall Out, and
features film editor Noreen Ackland and music editor Eric Mival.
Mival is the stand out on the commentary with Ackalnd taking
a background role. Commentaries are solid, but workmanlike in
general and could have been bettered with the involvement of
guest stars or a moderator.
Each episode comes complete with its original US TV trailer.
These are also presented with new transfers and are a welcome
addition. These are included on the discs featuring the same
episode as is an image gallery for each episode. These come
backed with an array of musical cues and themes includede on
the programme. And if you slip each disc in a computer you are
given the chance to view original production paperwork in PDF
format. There is tons of this stuff and to detail each peice
would be far too indepth here, just trust me it's a huge collection
and totally absorbing to look through.
Added in the mixture are some original behind the scenes footage,
textless titles, exposure strips gallery, the alternate edit
of Chimes of Big Ben and a finely restored version of the Arrival
alternative edit (together with restoration featurette). A flagship
release from Network that should be on top of every Action TV
readers Christmas wish list.
One of the year's best TV releases. Own it now!
A treasure trove, see details above.