Secret Agent (1965-1966)
The Prisoner (1968-1969)
Type: Spin Offs?
Okay, right off the bat lets establish all three of these shows were imports from Britain. The years listed above correspond with their American network TV runs.
Danger Man was a show about the exploits of John Drake, played by Patrick McGoohan. He was a security investigator who worked for the powerful in governments. He was another international man of action and intrigue in line with the other spy-type shows of the time. Each week he traveled the globe and kicked some ass.
Secret Agent was a follow up series again starring Patrick McGoohan as John Drake. Only now Drake was a spy and worked exclusively for the British government. He was out to keep the peace by, again, kicking some ass. Only in Secret Agent he had a full hour to do it whereas Danger Man was only half an hour.
But here is a question for you: what happens to an ass kicking spy when he gets tired of his job? I mean he's a spy. He's got all sorts of top secret stuff in his mind and all so to just let him retire and go live anywhere he pleases might be dangerous - someone might want to know what he knows. Spying is like the mob - its hard to just quit. Which brings us to a pseudo spin off named The Prisoner.
The Prisoner again starred Patrick McGoohan this time as a never named British spy. The series began with this agent quitting the spy biz and promptly being kidnapped. But by who? He ends up finding himself in a pleasant looking little town simply called The Village. Only thing is The Village is really a prison. If you try to leave, giant white bouncing spheres called rovers capture you and plop you back in The Village. The former spy is literally a prisoner, as are all the others in the village. Those in charge try to take his identity assigning him a number, 6, in place of a name and begin trying to break him, to get him to reveal his secrets and then live in happy captivity like the other residents of The Village that have already been broken. Number Six fights them every step of the way, clinging to his humanity. He is a man, not a number!
The show was very surreal and oblique. Who exactly had kidnapped this guy? A foreign power out for his top secret knowledge or maybe his own government looking to break him and then keep him captive to prevent others from getting that knowledge? The head of The Village was Number 1 and was not seen. Rather his right hand man Number 2 was shown. Number 2's identity varied from episode to episode and this also added to the mental screw job being done on Number 6.
I have not seen the final episode but am aware of its reputation. It was so surreal that the network had to publish an explanation of it so calm down angry viewers who didn't get it. Apparently Number 6 was good enough at resisting the powers that he was offered a higher number rank and job with the powers that be. In the end Number 1 is revealed to be Number 6 (I think???) but Number 6 and some other rebels bust out of The Village and blow it up. When I finally get to see the series, which I mean to, I'll clarify this if I can.
Now like I said, the agent in The Prisoner is never named. And Patrick McGoohan I have been told denies that he is in fact John Drake. But all things considered... it's a line call and I'm calling it a spin off. Never saying the prisoner is NOT John Drake leaves things vague. On top of that, the show exploited the popularity of Secret Agent and the John Drake character in getting viewers. I mean the same guy who just played a spy is now playing another spy. Hello? Lets say Sean Connery had quit playing James Bond and they had then stopped making James Bond movies entirely. Then Sean Connery shows up playing the prisoner. Who wouldn't assume the prisoner was in fact James Bond? They played it cagey, that puts the ball in the viewers court as to if John Drake is the prisoner and this viewer says it's him and its a spin off.
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