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The Prisoner
Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138-at-popapostle-dot-com
The Prisoner: Living in Harmony The Prisoner
"Living in Harmony"
TV episode
Written by David Tomblin
From a story by David Tomblin & Ian L. Rakoff
Directed by David Tomblin
Original air date: December 29, 1967

 

A stranger in a town of the American old west finds himself pressured to become the sheriff.

 

Read the complete story summary at Wikipedia

 

Didja Know?

 

This is one of only a couple episodes of the series (the other being the final episode, "Fall Out") that foregoes the familiar opening credits sequence, jumping right into the story of Number 6 living in the American old west, actually a strange manipulation by the Village's powers-that-be. The English countryside, cloudy skies, and Elstree Studios backlot are not a particularly convincing version of the American southwest! Of course, near the end of the episode, the old west town of Harmony is revealed to be an outlying area near the Village. For someone like Number 6 who was raised in and worked in a European environment, it may seem passable as having an atmosphere of the American old west.

 

Actor Alexis Kanner, seen here as the Kid, also appears in the later episodes (apparently as different characters) in "The Girl Who Was Death" and "Fall Out". He also played Lt. Jim Regan in the UFO episode "The Cat With Ten Lives".

 

Actor Larry Taylor, seen here as an unnamed Mexican man, also played a gypsy in "Many Happy Returns".

 

Didja Notice?

 

The music throughout this episode is reminiscent of the Ennio Morricone film score of the hit 1964 spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars and its sequels.

 

The opening few seconds of the episode are a sort of old west parody of Number 6 (the sheriff) driving his car (riding a horse) into town and throwing down his resignation letter (sheriff's badge), then being attacked and knocked unconscious to awaken later in a strange town he's never heard of before!

 

As the guest stars are listed at 2:06 on the Blu-ray, actor Alexis Kanner's name is highlighted by having a square around it for some reason! Kanner plays The Kid/Number 8 in the episode.

guest stars

 

One of the businesses in Harmony is Lane's General Merchandise. Possibly, the name was borrowed from the name of a former real world store at Calico Ghost Town, an old west former mining town in the Mojave Desert of southern California and now a San Bernardino County Regional Park. The local blacksmith business in Harmony is called General Blacksmithing. The name have been borrowed from the ghost town attraction at Knott's Berry Farm, a theme park in southern California which also once owned Calico Ghost Town.

 

The piano music heard emitting from the local saloon is "Oh! Susanna", written by Stephen Foster in 1848.

 

The Harmony saloon is called the Silver Dollar. A large number of bars in the old west and up through modern days have had that name. The saloon seen here advertises prickly pear beers. There are actual beers brewed with the fruit of the prickly pear cactus.

 

Number 6 tells the Judge (Number 2) he's not for hire, he's turned in his badge and his gun, and the Judge asks, "What were your reasons?" to which Number 6 responds, "My reasons." This is an obvious allegory to Number 6's resignation from his duties in London and the desire of the powers-that-be in the Village to learn why he resigned.

 

At 7:08 on the Blu-ray, notice that the front wall of the Silver Dollar saloon has a poster advertising "The Bishop Is Coming!"

 

The photograph on the saloon wall at 7:31 on the Blu-ray appears to be of Buffalo Bill Cody (1846-1917). What may be another picture-portrait of him is seen in the background at 20:47.

 

At about 8:37 on the Blu-ray, the shadow of the camera can be seen moving across the horses!

 

The local stables of Harmony are seen to be run by an Ira J. McKnight, including the sale of harness and saddles. This is likely a reference to the historical Ira J. McKnight who was a maker of harnesses and saddles in White Pine County, Nevada around 1880; he was even elected to public office.

McKnight stables

 

As the camera shot changes at 9:06 on the Blu-ray, the horses Number 6 was looking at for possible purchase have suddenly vanished!

 

At 12:35 on the Blu-ray, Number 6 can be seen to be about to strike a match to light his hand-rolled cigarette, even though he doesn't draw out the match until a over ten seconds later! And the smoke from his cigarette is seen at 12:41, even though he hasn't lit it yet!

 

After Number 6 is held in protective custody in the town jail, saloon girl Kathy distracts the Kid with a bottle of Phoogan Whiskey. This appears to be a fictitious brand.

 

At 13:47 on the Blu-ray, a real world, old west notice is seen hanging on the wall of the sheriff's office. The same notice is seen hanging over the mirror behind the bar in the Silver Dollar saloon.
Notice! The real Notice!

 

At 15:04 on the Blu-ray, a poster in the sheriff's office is seen to advertise an exhibition of the head of Joaquim and the hand of Three-Fingered Jack at the Stockton House. This is a reference to the Robin Hood-like folklore of Joaquin Murrieta and Three Finger Jack (Manuel Garcia), participants in the Bear Flag Revolt against the Mexican government of California in 1846. I am unaware of the Stockton House, but it is probably related to the commander-in-chief of U.S. land forces in California at the time, Commodore Robert Field Stockton. The embalmed head of Joaquin and hand of Three Finger Jack were allegedly exhibited around the state afterward, though the story has little evidence and is largely considered legend. 

 

Since the whole western scenario of Harmony is revealed to be a ruse to trick Number 6 into talking, why do we see scenes of the western characters in which Number 6 is not present? Aren't they just Village residents acting out for nothing?

 

At 17:03 on the Blu-ray, a wanted poster for Oliver Curtis Perry is seen on the wall of the sheriff's office. This is a reproduction of an actual wanted poster from 1882. The same poster is seen in the saloon in the background at 20:47 and outside the sheriff's office at 24:40.
wanted poster Oliver Curtis Perry

 

At 20:18 on the Blu-ray, a photograph of the Adams Express Co. is seen on the saloon wall. This was a real world company for the delivery of securities, documents, and parcels in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The company still exists today as an equity investment company.

 

At 21:19 on the Blu-ray, a $25,000 reward poster for Jesse James is seen in the saloon (the same poster is seen outside the sheriff's office at 24:40). But on the opposite of the bar, a poster for a mere $500 reward for James is seen! Jesse James, of course, was a real world outlaw of the American old west.

 

At 32:57 on the Blu-ray, a poster on the wall behind the sheriff's desk mentions Central Dakota and Chicago Northwestern, as well as the phrase, "You Need a Farm!" This is an advertising poster for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad and the free land that was being given by the U.S. government to settlers in the Dakota Territory in 1888. One could take the Chicago Northwestern train to that region to make a claim to a farmstead. The same poster is seen in the saloon at 37:26.

 

At 33:29 on the Blu-ray, a reproduction of an actual reward poster for Tom Nixon is seen.
Tom Nixon reward Tom Nixon reward poster

 

At 34:13 on the Blu-ray, notice that the Judge, playing a game of solitaire with a deck of cards, lays down an ace of spades on top of a 2 of hearts, but the card is marked with a 1 instead of A. I have been unable to discover an historical instance of the ace in a card decked marked as 1, even though the term "ace" could be interpreted as "one" in many ways. Could the card's presence here be a reference to Number 1, the superior of Number 2? Might it more broadly be a reference to what many fans think is the true purpose of Number 6's incarceration in the Village: to get him to accept the position of Number 1? ace

 

At 36:54 on the Blu-ray, the photo behind the bar is of legendary old west lawman Wyatt Earp.

 

Notice that Number 6 leaves his Sheriff badge on the desk before he heads out with his gun strapped on to face down the Kid. He has previously refused to wear the gun as Sheriff in this episode, so the laying down of the badge before walking out with the gun may be an admission of personal justice on his part, and that he is unwilling to accept a role in "authoritarian" justice in Harmony. 

 

At 41:15 on the Blu-ray, a reward poster for Sam and Belle Starr is seen. This is another reproduction of a real world old west reward poster.
Sam and Belle Reward Sam and Belle Starr

 

Kathy is revealed to be Number 22 and the Kid, Number 8. A different Number 22 is one of the exhibition judges in "The Chimes of Big Ben", and two different 22s are seen in "Dance of the Dead", while yet another appears in "The Schizoid Man". Number 8 was a woman who was programmed to fall in love with Number 6 in "Checkmate" and this was also the number of Nadia, the woman helped Number 6 "escape" in "The Chimes of Big Ben" who turned out to be working for the powers-that-be. It almost seems at this point that every resident/number in the Village is merely a plant to prod Number 6 to some destination, and he is the only real prisoner there.

 

If Number 22 could survive her throttling by Number 8 long enough to tell Number 6 she wished it had all been real, then there is no real reason why she should have died right there. She didn't appear to be physically injured in any way beyond the brief choking off of oxygen.


Unanswered Questions

Is there any significance to the dichotomy between the Kid and the Butler? Both are seemingly mute and serve the Judge/Number 2. In opposition, the Kid is tall and lean and emotional, while the Butler is short and stout and indifferent.

Memorable Dialog

welcome to Harmony.wav
it's sort of exclusive.wav
it's not wise to ask too many questions.wav
I'm not for hire.wav
not my kind of town.wav
I told you he was different.wav

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