In Memoriam



Normally, I tend to let these things speak for themselves, but finding out that Patrick McGoohan died today hit me pretty hard. McGoohan is best known for starring in and, along with George Markstein, co-creating the 1967 British TV series The Prisoner, and to say that I’m a fan is putting it mildly. I’m of the opinion that it is objectively the greatest television show ever made: Years–decades–ahead of its time in every way, from its storytelling and style to the themes it addressed to the dialogue, delivered with McGoohan’s calm, seething rage.

But even beyond that, it’s the sort of thing that can teach you something about yourself and the world around you. It’s not so much a show that you watch as one that you experience, and it’s something that is genuinely important to me. For that, Patrick McGoohan has my thanks, and the world is poorer without him in it.



If you’ve never seen THE PRISONER, it’s both available on DVD and, for the time being, AMC is streaming the entire series for free on their website, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

40 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. All that you said, plus his being pretty much the epitome of ’60s cool. He was like the male equivalent of Diana Rigg. Or vice versa. You know what I mean.

    I’ve crushed on McGoohan since I was 6, and he was doing Disney films. This news hit me hard, too.

  2. He will be missed.

    If you get a chance, check out the Dr Syn:Alias the Scarcrow disks that Disney put out recently. He was amazing in those.

  3. This has been a rough one. Both McGoohan and Montalban in the same day.

    It’s like a kick in the stomach, it really is.

  4. The Prisoner was weird-great TV in a period when there was no weird (or, frankly, great) American TV.

    My parents and I saw it when it came out as the summer substitute for (I think) The Jackie Gleason Show.

    We didn’t know what the Hell it was, but I loved it — probably in the same way I loved the Gerry Anderson shows, for the design.

    And then in later years, I woke up to what McGoohan had really created. The Prisoner Companion by Matthew White is a great read.

    Be seeing you.

  5. PS to Danicus:

    I think what I loved Ricardo Montalban the most for was how much fun he had on Freakazoid.

    “Laugh with me! Laugh with me!

  6. I agree, The Prisoner is one of the greatest entertainments in any media – ever – and McGoohan’s hands were on the wheel. Must watch it again.

    And he was so wonderfully vile as Edward I, the Longshanks.

    You’re a free man now, #6. Be seeing you.

  7. The picture’s hovertext was the icing on this tribute. And I have to agree with Karen – he was a bit like the male equivalent to Dame Rigg.

  8. I think especially the last two episodes of the Prisoner will always remain some of the finest television the world has ever seen.

    Be seeing you.

  9. Ricardo Montalban passed away too….

    2 great actors of our childhood in quick successions.

    Guess even Khan had to go sometime.

  10. His series before the Prisoner, “Danger Man” – known here in the states as “Secret Agent Man” was also top notch.

    In fact Danger Man was IMHO even better than the Prisoner in some respects.

    He will be missed…

  11. Oops, just realized that the title is just “Secret Agent”. Now I’ve got that song stuck in my head!

  12. It was always kicked around that “The Prisoner” was the sequel to “Secret Agent”.
    Can nayone confirm this?

  13. No, Mike, we can’t. Markstein always said it was, McGoohan said it wasn’t. In reality the answer is tied up in rights to the separate shows.

    It certainly has my vote for best show ever; even forty years later it’s hard to think of anything that might beat it. Brilliant and thought-provoking while never ceasing to be immensely entertaining.

  14. And do not forgete his memorable roles in two or three episodes of the also memorable Columbo series. Like Peter Falk, McGohan is someone who seems to be always on the good side of the things that was happening on the time. He’ll be missed.

  15. I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t already been said above, and better than how I could put it. I just wanted to chime in with a tiny little tribute comment, and felt the most comfortable doing that here.

    Very nicely said, Chris. Thank you.

  16. I guess I will add that my wife had the soundtrack to the show when we met, and we used the theme for the Cat & Mouse cafe to make a radio ad for her campus radio show one time. Seriously, it’s just such a silly, jaunty little tune :) (Although it’s making me feel kinda sad just at the moment!)

  17. Great actor. Great writer.

    I mention this on Occasional Superheroine, but my favorite homage to him was the animators of Justice League having Dr. Fate look like Patrick once he took his helmet off.

  18. I think I discovered “The Chimes of Big Ben” at exactly the right time of my life. I’ve appreciated the value of being “unmutual” ever since. I just wish he didn’t prove to be so prescient about so many things in that series.

    And I know it’s sacrilegious, but you just KNOW that even now, McGoohan is probably making trouble for #1 on general principle.

  19. I thought McGoohan was great on The Prisoner (the final episode still ranks as my all time “What the is going on?” moment) but I also remember him from his appearances on Columbo. His portrayal of a murderous, yet strangely sympathetic, military school commander really demonstrated what a fine actor he was.

  20. This one has really gotten to me, as well.

    I’m almost stunned at how down that made me.

    RIP, #6.

    Also, if I had the Mod jacket he wore on that show, I would wear it even in the summer.

  21. Scott,

    I remember watching one of those episodes. I moreso remember seeing Columbo sitting down next to some little girl eating ice cream outside in the same episode, and it was almost like he adlibbed a creepy conversation with her, saying the ice cream looked good, and commenting on what a pretty little girl she was…brrr!!!

    So anyway, everyone should go listen to “I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape” by The Times:

  22. Just read this, and now I’m listening to Iron Maiden’s The prisoner, deep in nostalgia.

    Good times!

  23. Gotta love his hammed up performances as the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. Those were awesome.

  24. Prisoner was alright, but does everyone overlook his best role as Dr Paul Ruth in the epic Cronenberg film Scanners? Definitely his best role.

  25. I watched the episode “Fall Out” in his memory. I had forgotten how bat-shit brilliant that ep is.

    “The bones is yours, Dad! They came from you, my daddy.”

  26. Yeah, I have the JKC issue where they talk about it. Could’ve sworn I put it up on the ISB at some point.

    And yeah, it’s amazing what you can find with Google Image Search. Not reading the comics you review really frees up time.

  27. He would not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered.

    His life was own.

    Even if he did have an appallingly silly last name.

  28. I remember him from Silver Streak with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. Played a class villain.

  29. @Mike Duncan: “Spiritual Successor” is how I’d put it, but the show works either way.

    Patrick McGoohan: A classy gent; now, a free man.

  30. An extraordinary man and an extraordinary talent. But my favourite thing was that he always looked like a Jack Kirby drawing brought to life…