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Imagination Connoisseur, Jared Snyder, recalls his days of growing up in the 1960s and watching Patrick McGoohan in the classic spy series, THE PRISONER. (imdb)

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Dear Rob and Az

I watched “Arrival” with my parents and siblings, on our black & white TV on June 1, 1968 at our home in Connecticut.

My father’s business frequently took him to Europe from whence he returned with presents like my Corgi James Bond Aston-Martin complete with bulletproof shield, machine guns and ejection seat and an arm load of British spy novels.

His love of these novels combined with my mother’s crush on Patrick McGoohan ensured that every episode of “Secret Agent Man” was a family affair. The show was hugely popular 1966 and remained so until it concluded in January 1968 with the episode “Not So Jolly Roger.”

Networks programmed the summertime with filler: European shows, old movies and reruns. Running “The Prisoner” in the summertime meant CBS never expected it to be a continuation of “Secret Agent Man”.

My parents were shocked by “The Prisoner”. Spies were abducted, such as in “36 Hours” (1965), but always by the bad guys. Defectors and traitors were tricked or cajoled into divulging their secrets weekly on “Mission Impossible”, but not our own people! The disillusionment that was coming had not yet hit them.

However, my siblings and I were pulled in. Portmeirion was a creepy version of villages on my father’s European postcards and the forced politeness of the faceless organization as it ground down the individual could have been the Pentagon’s weekly press conferences for the Vietnam War. We found large, stinging jellyfish on our local beach that reminded us of Rover, particularly the famous grimace through the weather balloon.

There really has never been anything like this since. I vividly remembered each episode I saw and still find some much each time I watch them again.

One final note: When P.F. Sloan wrote “Secret Agent Man” (1964), there was no “Prisoner”. He was thinking about 007 when he wrote his lyrics, but do you think McGoohan at least found a kernel of inspiration in the line “he’s giving you a number and taking away your name” when he was conceiving of “The Prisoner” ?

– Jared

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