Prisoner, The (1967)-Number 3: Checkmate

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Released 9-Oct-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-Original Episode Trailers
Featurette-Foreign Filing Cabinet Footage
Featurette-Animated Penny Farthing Bumpers
Featurette-Original Production Footage
Biographies-Cast
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 193:55 (Case: 200)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (12:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Robert Asher
Don Chaffey
Pat Jackson
Patrick McGoohan
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Patrick McGoohan
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Ron Grainer
Albert Elms
Wilfred Josephs


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

   

'What do you want? Information'

    The Prisoner is an English television series made in 1966/67 which over the years has become a cult favourite, with many websites and societies devoted to it. It was controversial when it first aired because of its very different and confusing approach and especially because of its strange, surreal ending. It has been released here in Region 4 by Umbrella/AV Channel and is available either as a box set of 5 discs or as individual discs. For this reason there will be five single disc reviews followed by a box set review, tying them all together, so bear with me. Each disc contains extras but the major extras are contained on Disc 5.

    The basic premise is that a high ranking government employee in London, obviously somehow involved in international espionage, decides to resign and during the credits which start most episodes, he visits his boss in an underground location to thump the desk and hand over his letter. He returns home to pack and get away from England, however, while he is doing so he is gassed and kidnapped. When he awakes he is in a strange place, called The Village, which is really a prison but without obvious guards, fences, wire or locks. He quickly learns that they want to know why he resigned and he is referred to only as Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan). Not being sure who or which side he is dealing with he refuses to tell them anything. The village accommodates many people, all with different numbers, most of whom have given up the information they held and now live as virtual automatons, following the instructions of the chief administrator, Number 2, on how to behave and react to various situations. The show follows the various attempts of Number 2 (played by various actors) to break Number 6 and get him to answer their questions. It also follows various attempts by Number 6 to escape and work out who Number 1 is. Because of Number 6's importance, Number 2's shadowy superiors will not allow him to use risky or destructive techniques to bring Number 6 to heel.

    The episodes on this disc are: (Episode descriptions will be short to avoid spoiling the episode)

  1. Checkmate - An interesting episode where Number 6 gets pulled into a game of human chess. He tries to work out who is a warden and who is a prisoner in order to get a group together to escape. The human chess scene is very well known. Number 2 is played by Peter Wyngarde.
  2. Hammer Into Anvil - An excellent episode featuring a cruel and insecure Number 2 (Patrick Cargill) who causes the suicide of a young girl. Number 6 then launches an elaborate campaign to mess with Number 2's mind. Features a strange duelling sport called Kosho which involves trampolines separated by a water pool. I especially liked the music in this episode.
  3. It's Your Funeral - Number 2 (Andre Van Gyseghem) is on leave and the acting Number 2 (Derren Nesbitt) launches a plan to try to get information from Number 6. He gets a young woman to go to Number 6 warning of an assassination plat against Number 2, which she is concerned would just make life worse for the inmates. Includes some more Kosho. A slightly weaker episode than some others.
  4. A Change of Mind - An excellent episode which involves Number 6 being accused of disharmony by the rest of the village. He must face the committee and answer for his crimes. They threaten to 'isolate the aggressive frontal lobe of his brain'. Number 2 is played by John Sharp.

    Highly recommended if you don't mind having to think.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent. A wonderful job has been done in restoring the video presentation. It is not without problems, however compared to footage from the series in some of the extras and documentaries, the difference is quite amazing.

    The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was surprisingly clear and sharp throughout considering the age of the material, with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was decent but certainly nothing special.

    The colour was generally very good, however I did notice some chroma noise from time to time.

    Considering the age and television source of the material, artefacts have been kept to an absolute minimum but they are certainly present. From a film artefact perspective, there were occasional specks and lines, although all things considered these were quite minimal. There were also occasional jumps in the film but these were not regular and not really very noticeable. From a film-to-video artefact perspective there was some regular mild aliasing throughout on car grilles, windows and more. There was more aliasing than usual in the episode Checkmate. There was also some edge enhancement which occured regularly. I also noticed some tape tracking errors but these were very irregular. From an MPEG artefact perspective there was some macro-blocking to be seen, such as in the clouds in the credits and here and there during the episodes. None of these artefacts could be considered overly significant and considering the age of the original series, the overall video quality is excellent.

    There are no subtitles which is a shame.

    The layer change occurs at 12:50 in Episode 3 but is not very noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout. Audio sync was an issue in two episodes but was generally fine. The episode It's Your Funeral had some audio sync issues which were quite noticeable.

    The music in the series includes the excellent theme as hummed by Patrick McGoohan to Ron Grainer who then took the original idea and developed it into a full theme. Other incidental music was by Wilfred Josephs & Albert Elms. Generally, the music is excellent, weird, effective, surreal and interesting.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The significant extras are on Disc 5 but each disc also contains some smaller extras.

Menu

    The menu included an intro, stills, music, dialogue and the ability to select scenes and episodes.

Original Episode Trailers

    These are the original television trailers for each of the episodes on this disc including:

Original Production Footage (7:55)

    16mm footage behind-the-scenes during filming including footage of the original Rover before they decided to go with the ball. Definitely of interest to fans.

Foreign Filing Cabinet Footage (2:26)

    Footage of the filing cabinet in the credits in a wide variety of languages. Fans only.

Animated Penny Farthing Bumpers (0:55)

    Small pieces of animation used when going to or returning from advertisements on television. Fans only.

Number 2 Profiles

    Text profiles for the four actors who play Number 2 in these episodes; Peter Wyngarde, Patrick Cargill, Derren Nesbitt & John Sharp.

The Tally Ho Photo Gallery

    14 stills from the show, behind-the-scenes and publicity photos.

Case Notes

    The case includes an essay on the music used in The Prisoner.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I will cover the Region 4 vs Region 1 differences in the box set review as the sets are reasonably different. There is no direct comparison for each individual disc as the Region 1 set is spread over 10 discs. Smaller sets were released earlier with two discs each, however, the spread of episodes is quite different.

Summary

    The third disc of an intriguing, weird, surreal and political television series made in 1966/67 that could not possibly be made today.

    The video quality is wonderful considering the source.

    The audio quality is good.

    The disc has a selection of extras which would interest fans of the show.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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