The Prisoner (1967) – Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, and Living in Harmony

We’re giving a teaser before the opening credits, which are shortened, and doesn’t introduce us to Number Two (Clifford Evans), instead we’re launched into a very bizarre, story involving mind-swapping in Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling.

Written by Vincent Tilsley, this episode first went out on the Beeb on 22 December, 1967.

Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) wakes up back in his London flat, but is shocked to see that his appearance has been changed. More than that, his mind has been swapped, and he’s looking at a reflection of himself in the form of someone known as the Colonel (Nigel Stock).

As he attempts to prove his identity to his former employers, and we learn about his engagement to a young woman, Janet (Zena Walker). Wait, wait, wait… so when the series opened, he was resigning and leaving without her? This is the first we’ve heard of her.

He wants his own body back, and has to use his spycraft to sort it out, and soon he learns that his only hope is to track down Seltzman (Hugo Schuster), the professor who engineered the whole mind swap process, which, conveniently, is exactly what Number Two wants him to do. But Seltman has his own plans for when he reaches the Village, and only part of it includes restoring Number Six to his body.

For the most part, the episode works, despite it’s outlandish plot, and it’s interesting to see someone else playing Number Six, but still playing it as McGoohan (who was busy finishing up a film while this episode was being shot).

Living in Harmony was first broadcast on 29 December, 1967, and was written by Ian Rakoff from a story by David Tomblin, from an idea by Frank Maher.

This one throws us right into things by putting us in an old west setting, despite the fact that it looks like England. A stranger and former lawman, Number Six, awakes in a town called Harmony (a town he can’t leave), where the local Judge (David Bauer) wants him to become the new sheriff.

Six is resistant to the idea, refusing to be manipulated into the position, even when Kathy (Valerie French), a hostess in the local saloon, has her life hanging in the balance, and a quiet, homicidal gunslinger known as The Kid (Alexis Kanner) has Six in his sights.

Six takes the job, but refuses to wear a gun, or use them in answer to assault. A rather important message, especially at the time (remember this was aired in the 60s). But we also know he’s clever enough to figure out a plan of action, of some sort.

This is a wonderfully unique episode, and the fun reveal at the end places it in the Village as an experiment. But honestly, it’s just a western show, something that England wasn’t making.

Next time, we dig into the final three episodes of the series!

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