Saturday, March 19, 2005

Happy Birthday to Patrick McGoohan...

Today marks the 77th birthday of Patrick McGoohan, the man behind what may well be the greatest TV show of all time, The Prisoner. Anyone who hasn't seen this show is strongly urged to get their hands on the DVDs. Also available is a huge set of the complete run of Danger Man, a show known here in the States as Secret Agent, for which Johnny River's classic tune "Secret Agent Man" was the theme. Although a much more orthodox spy series than The Prisoner, Danger Man is generally considered that show's direct antecedent, with McGoohan's Danger Man character John Drake being the actual identity of the latter show's unnamed Number Six.

Also worth watching is McGoohan's morally comprimised scientist in Scanners, his appearance in the Cold War thriller Ice Station Zebra, and even several superior episodes of Columbo in which he played the killers. Sadly, these aren't represented in the currently released season one and two sets of the show. I think by the time of season three we'll see one of his appearances.

Another of his best roles, as a prototypical spy/rebel in the year 1736, appeared in the mini-series Dr. Syn -- Alias the Scarecrow, whiched appeared here The Wonderful World of Disney. Sadly, the show was once slated to be released as one of Disney's tin encased special DVD collections, but was shelved before release, presumably because of rights issues of some sort. I keep my fingers crossed on this one, although it's been years since I've heard anything about it. There was a video tape version, apparently truncated, that appeared quite some years ago, but it goes for high prices on the collector's market.

McGoohan will always remain a fascinating actor to watch. Few could suggest and project raw intelligence and just the fact that his character was thinking as well as he can. In fact, Andre Braugher is perhaps his only equal in this regard.

7 Comments:

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Henry Brennan said...

I absolutely loved "Secret Agent" and "The Prisoner". It's kinda strange, It seems that I somehow "got" abstract concepts when I was a kid. I remember my Friday nights. I watched (in order) "Magilla Gorilla", "Johnny Quest" and "The Avengers". I wasn't allowed to stay up past 9 PM, but I always managed to sneak a few peeks at the "forbidden show" "Love American Style". Crimeny, that seriously dates me.

 
At 12:15 AM, Blogger culfy said...

McGoohan should also be known for his moral integrity; he had a firm idea of what should and shouldn't be shown on screen, and refused the roles of both James Bond and the Saint because he disapproved of the characters' lifestyles and womanising.

 
At 6:02 AM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Culfy -- It's interesting you say that. Although the John Drake character seems to know a lot of attractive women, we never actually see him sleeping around with a lot of them.

Moreover, and this is very unusual for a spy series of the period, Drake seldom if every deliberately killed anyone, and almost never carried a gun.

 
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