100% All-Natural Composition
No Artificial Intelligence!

Monday, February 04, 2008

"Fall Out", the final episode of THE PRISONER, aired 40 years ago today

It was 40 years ago tonight, on February 4th 1968, that the British network ITC broadcast "Fall Out", the psychedelic final episode of its popular series The Prisoner.

To this day, "Fall Out" is considered the most controversial and outright bizarre series finale of a television show ever produced. The episode literally broke ITC's phone system after it was overwhelmed with calls from confused viewers. The Prisoner creator and star Patrick McGoohan had to go into hiding for several weeks after the episode's airing because people kept coming to his house to demand that he explain it to them.

Even forty years later, "Fall Out" is no less startling. The entire episode is indulged - perhaps too indulged - in visual allegory and auditory assault. Taken literally, there's not much in "Fall Out" that makes much sense (along with pretty much every other episode of The Prisoner). But if you're watching this with a decidedly metaphorical mindset, it becomes quite a cerebral parable about the prison of our own modern world.

That still doesn't keep "Fall Out" from being the most whacked-out episode of a TV series in history, though...

The scene where Number 6 (the main character of The Prisoner, played by McGoohan) finally confronts the mysterious Number 1 still evokes considerable debate...

Most of the final third of the episode has no dialogue, only insane action sequences. Like this spectacular machine gun fight toward the end that has everyone shooting at everyone else while "All You Need is Love" by The Beatles (?!) blares loud over the din...

If you want to know more about "Fall Out" (which after watching the episode just about everyone does) here is Dark Childe's review of the episode (the page that these "Fall Out" pics were found on) and here's the episode's entry on Wikipedia.


Anonymous said...

I bought a couple volumes of The Prisoner DVDs a few years ago and liked some of the episodes. Thanks to the DVDs being overpriced, I still have never seen the 2nd half of the season and eventually sold the DVDs I did have on eBay.

They now have all ?18? episodes in a single box set, but it's also waaayy too expensive. Even if it's a great show, the DVDs were released with some visual & audio problems that I guess were impossible to clean up (unless my discs were just bad).

I look forward to the time when the cost for this 1960s standard-def series falls below 21st century Blu-Ray prices so I can afford to find out how the series ends. The finale sounds intriguing.

qemuel said...


I loved this show, even the kooky ending.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is still following this post The Prisoner has been re-issues in a pristine Hi Def transfer for a VERY affordable price on Bluray - it's a dream release for prisoner fans with extras and picture and sound quality you'd never have thought possible if you've owned any of the LaserDisc or DVD releases. This is really **P E R F E C T**. One of the best reissue/transfers I've ever seen

Nick Haines said...

The only explanation that makes sense to me is that the entire series has documented the mental deterioration of Number 6. In Fall Out he breaks down completely in a series of increasingly bizarre hallucinations. His final freedom sees No6 at peace with what and who he was and is.
In a way, there is perhaps a similarity between The Prisoner and some of Kafka's work where the underlying theme is duty.
Just a point of view.