Friday, November 13, 2009

Hulu Recommendation Friday: The Prisoner

Given that this Sunday is the premiere of the new AMC series "The Prisoner," a site as devoted to geek culture as this one is has only one possible recommendation to make -- "The Prisoner" starring Patrick McGoohan. The show is not "officially" on Hulu, but you can find a link on the Hulu site.

The original "The Prisoner" was nominally a follow up to Patrick McGoohan's popular spy themed show "Danger Man," or as I always new it "Secret Agent." One way that "The Prisoner" can be viewed is as the "deprogramming" of McGoohan's character from the earlier series as he retires from the spy world.

There are many other lenses through which the show can be viewed as the show is a great example of what much of the New Wave SF Writers and the earlier Futurian SF writers where doing in written SF. In the fiction of both the New Wave writers and Futurians shifted the focus of sfnal elements away from the mechanically technical and into the political and social. It is true that earlier SF, like that of Wells and Huxley, had been filled with political and social elements as the primary sfnal elements, but the Hard SF movement championed by John W. Campbell had a greater focus on hard science than earlier SF. The Campbellian writers had political subtexts as well, but one can read much of Heinlein, Vogt, and Asimov without engaging with the political/philosophic content. The fiction of the New Wave and Futurians was a little more radical and overt in its use of political and social elements. One cannot read Behold the Man without engaging with the radicalism of the text. It's no accident that "The Prisoner," with its focus on the collective versus the individual, came into existence at the height of the, largely British, SF New Wave.

It is a common practice among fans of "The Prisoner" to have lengthy conversations about the meanings embedded within the series and it is almost impossible to describe the series itself without revealing one something that one might find to be a spoiler. "The Prisoner" is a show to be experienced tabula rasa, then to be experienced again and again in order to engage with the complexities of the narrative.

It appears that the new AMC show is using Alternate Reality Gaming to expand the experience. Make a little visit to the Summakor website to get an idea of what I mean.

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