Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Patrick McGoohan (1928 - 2009)

This news hit me like a ton of bricks. I learned this afternoon that the great Patrick McGoohan -- Number 6 on the cult-classic British TV series The Prisoner (1967-1968) -- had passed away at the age of 80.

It's weird, perhaps, to discuss actors as being "heroes," but I certainly count among my great childhood heroes men such as Roddy McDowall, Charlton Heston, William Shatner, Martin Landau and Patrick McGoohan. As a young person -- one fishing around for influences and ideas in the pop culture -- these actors, the characters they created meant a tremendous amount to me. They still do.

McGoohan really resonated with me. I suspect it was the tenacity, the hard-edge, the iron-will he regularly presented in the role of Number 6. This was a guy who -- no matter what got thrown at him - would not budge; would not break; would not surrender. He would not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, or debriefed. When McGoohan declared on The Prisoner that he was "not a number" but a "free man," you believed him.

Again, not to get hokey, but as a young man, I gazed at McGoohan's Number Six as the epitome of manhood. He couldn't be bullied. He could carry himself well...and fight well when necessary. He was popular with the ladies. His wit was razor sharp. And he stood by his beliefs. He was James Bond, but James Bond under real, continued duress...and I found that idea fascinating.

Of course, McGoohan didn't just play Number 6 on The Prisoner, he also wrote and direct several episodes of the series, so his individual stamp, is all over that timeless series. It was the role of a lifetime, to be certain, a role he owned.

I grieve the loss of Patrick McGoohan and know he will be missed. I can't help but wonder, however, if this great actor checked out of the Village at exactly the right time. So as to avoid seeing a dumbed-down remake of his legendary creation now in the production pipeline...


7 comments:

  1. I share your grief over this lost hero. I still fondly remember McGoohan in Disney's The Scarecrow.

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  2. Just like you, Number 6 and Capt Kirk were probably the two biggest influences in shaping what I thought it meant to be hero, or just to be a man. I honor and respect and thank them for that.

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  3. There's a scene in the film HIGH FIDELITY where John Cusack is talking to someone in a bar and he asks his buddy, played by Jack Black who starred in THE PRISONER and Black responds, "McGoohan!" in an annoyed tone as if to say that Cusack's character was a cultural philistine for not being able to remember that McGoohan starred in the show. This little throwaway bit of business in the film always makes me smile every time it happens and is a nice little shout-out to the show.

    McGoohan will certainly be missed. Thank goodness he did not live to see a possible Hollywood "re-imagining" of his show.

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  4. We watched the entire "Prisoner" DVD box set and are now tearing through "Danger Man" (AKA Secret Agent) and I have to say, McGoohan definitely embodies manliness for me. LOL

    NPR did a nice little spot on him this morning...longer even then the spot they did right after on Ricardo. Sad news to wake up to but I'm glad they were remembered on the air.

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  5. For all of you haters, the remake's being done by Lionsgate for AMC, and will be a TV series;apparently also, the writer for will be from the series Mad Men.

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  6. Those facts are indeed promising, Lionel. Glad you wrote in to point 'em out.

    But we're not haters simply because we're not looking forward to a remake of a classic TV series, one incidentally, which has no input from the creator of the original material.

    We're just being careful -- we've been burned before by remakes.

    I don't think I need to provide a list, but it would certainly be topped by the remake of Planet of the Apes from Tim Burton.

    Thanks for writing, Lionel! I hope you're absolutely right and the new Prisoner is terrific.

    That would be great. (I'm just afraid unlikely).

    best,
    JKM

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  7. You're welcome, John. Here's some more info on the new version of The Prisoner:

    It was announced in late 2005 that Granada would revive the series for Sky 1 in 2007. Christopher Eccleston was initially rumored to be considered for the title role, and it was reported that the series would be titled Number Six instead of The Prisoner.

    In December 2006, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the American cable TV channel AMC was co-producing The Prisoner with Sky 1, and that it would run at least six to eight episodes, beginning in January 2008 (both in the UK and USA).

    In May 2007 it was reported that Sky One had pulled out of the re-make due to a disagreement with their co-producer AMC. In August 2007, Richard Woolfe, head of Sky One, stated:

    "The Prisoner is not happening. It's a very quintessentially British drama and there were too many creative differences trying to share it with an American partner. I didn't want to be responsible for taking something that is quintessentially British and adapting it in a way that I didn't feel was reflective of the way people would remember it and the way people would want it to be. So we called time on that."

    In October 2007, British broadcaster ITV stepped in to replace Sky One as co-producer with AMC.

    On 25 April 2008, ITV announced that a new series of The Prisoner will go into production. It was announced in June 2008 that American actor James Caviezel will star in the role of Number 6, with Sir Ian McKellen taking on the role of Number 2 in all six episodes.

    Other cast members include Ruth Wilson as Number 313, Lennie James as Number 147 and Jamie Campbell Bower as Number 11-12. Hayley Atwell is also cast. Location filming for The Village was in Namibia, in the city of Swakopmund. A production diary is available. (http://blogs.amctv.com/the-prisoner/)

    After 18 weeks of shooting, principal photography wrapped on December 12 2008 and will be broadcast in 2009. AMC is now streaming all 17 episodes of the original in advance of its remake. (http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/tube-talk/tube-talk/2009/01/revisit-the-prisoner-online/)
    (Oops, the part about the show being written by one of the Mad Men is in error, sorry.-Lionel)

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