‘Unique But Similar: The Prisoner Compared’ reviewed

❉ A novel look at the thematic and stylistic parallels between The Prisoner and subsequent cult TV classics.

Cover illustration and design: Robert Hammond.

September will see the fiftieth anniversary of the original broadcast of Patrick McGoohan’s surrealist masterwork The Prisoner and, with only seventeen episodes having been made, the questions raised therein are still a rich seam of debate and theory.

This book, however, does not aim to answer these questions.  Nor is it a ‘programme guide’.  Its purpose, as author Andrew K. Shenton points out, is to highlight the thematic and narrative similarities between the series and other specimens of cult television, identifying common themes.  From Blake’s 7 and The Omega Factor to Look and Read and Yes, Prime Minister, aspects can be found which can be linked to the endlessly fascinating struggle between Number Six and those behind the mysterious Village.

A distinguished researcher in information science, Dr Shenton’s reading list for this book seems to encapsulate every publication on cult television since the 1960s, and his dedication to research is more than evident.  What results, however, is a far more academically-pitched series of essays than one would perhaps expect when perusing.  This is not a book for the casual browser or newcomer to the subject, but an involved and forensic dissertation of its subject matter, from every conceivable angle and viewpoint.

Therefore, this book would be an important addition to the bookshelf of any scholar not only of television, but of the themes of politics, psychology, surveillance and others for which ‘The Prisoner’ remains famed – and virtually unrivalled – for tackling.

❉ ‘Unique But Similar: The Prisoner Compared’ by Andrew K. Shenton is available to order now from Miwk Publishing, at a special price of £13.99 (RRP £17.99)

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