Marc Bernardin
November 03, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

A handsome secret agent tears into his London headquarters, confronts his superior, and angrily resigns. Content in his decision, he repairs back to his flat to pack for a vacation. Without warning, an ominous gas is pumped in through his keyhole, rendering him unconscious. He awakens in a strange resort-like village, the life he knew, gone. And this all during the opening credits. Cocreated in Britain by star Patrick McGoohan (whose last great role was the evil king in Braveheart), The Prisoner was unlike any other TV show before it: intensely cerebral, subversively allegorical, maddeningly mysterious (no wonder it lasted only 17 episodes). The only thing that you knew for sure was that the nefarious powers that be would stop at nothing to break the will of defiant Number 6 (McGoohan’s character never revealed his name), who steadfastly refused to be ”pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered.” These two collections feature the first seven installments (the DVDs add some rare footage and alternate versions), and they perfectly capture The Prisoner in all its heady antiauthoritarian brilliance. Be seeing you. A-

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