Thursday, July 08, 2004

Prisoner numbers

At Maisonneuve, Frank Smith remembers The Prisoner.

Number Six was a brooding and paranoid figure, quite unlike any hero I’d seen before (or have seen since). While Emma Peel and John Steed were out preventing quirky villains from achieving world domination, Number Six was more likely to be found pacing back and forth in his kitchen after having smashed up his radio, or running along a beach being chased by a weather balloon.

I always liked Number Six. He was cranky and quick-witted; he fought against the system; and despite being brought to his knees each time he stepped outside the box, he never stopped trying and instead grew ever more subversive in his attempts to escape. When you are twelve and living in Ohio, this sort of thing speaks to you in a very specific way.

Like when I was 16, in Southern Ontario.

My grade 8 teacher called us by number. Easier for him to keep track and maintain his files, he said. I was number 8. In an act of civil disobedience, I refused to answer. I pulled that only once. He was a very large and imposing man. He once held Keith by the neck up against the blackboard. At least a foot off the ground. I heard he died some years ago of a brain hemorrhage.

I regret to say we've not yet watched all of the box set. I need to fully digest the episodes viewed to date before proceeding — a slow but satisfying process.

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