Living in Harmony
|"Living in Harmony"|
|The Prisoner episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||David Tomblin|
|Written by||David Tomblin & Ian L. Rakoff|
|Original air date||29 December 1967|
"Living in Harmony" is an episode of the British science fiction-allegorical television series, The Prisoner. It was first broadcast on 29 December 1967. It differs from most other episodes of the series in that it does not begin with the show's standard opening credits sequence. In fact, in a situation considered somewhat unique for a 1960s television programme, the actual title of the series does not appear on screen until the closing credits, and there it is actually presented in Patrick McGoohan's acting credit as his character's name. This episode was not aired in the United States for the series' initial network run.
This episode is a kind of "Wild West" allegory of all the other episodes of The Prisoner. Number 6 is again a non-conformist and refuses to be a number or to blend in with the other members of the Village. He refuses to accept things the way they are and wants to escape and expose the Village.
The episode begins with a Western paraphrase of the regular opening sequence, with Number 6, dressed as a sheriff, turning in his badge and his gun (i.e., resigning). Leaving town, without a horse but still carrying his saddle, he is attacked by several men in the countryside as the episode title "Living in Harmony" appears on screen, where one would expect to see the series' name. Following this teaser, the usual "I am not a number" dialogue from other episodes is omitted. Number 6 wakes from his beating and finds himself in a strange Western town. A Mexican tells him that he is in the town of Harmony. Number 6 goes into a saloon and meets the mayor of the town, also called The Judge. He meets with an intense mute young man known as The Kid who guards the jail. We are also introduced to a saloon girl, Kathy. After unintentionally agitating a mob into chasing him, Number 6 is taken into "protective custody." To satisfy the mob's bloodlust, the Judge allows them to lynch Kathy's brother. She, fearing for Number 6's life, goes into the jail, distracts the Kid, steals the keys then passes them to Number 6 who then escapes, only to be lassoed and brought back to town by the Judge's henchmen.
At an impromptu trial, the Judge announces that Number 6 is free to go as he was only in protective custody, but Kathy is guilty of aiding a prisoner to escape, as she did not know he was merely in protective custody. The Judge then makes Number 6 a deal, if he will become the sheriff of the town, Kathy is free to go. The Judge insinuates that she may not be safe with the Kid watching over her. Reluctantly, Number 6 agrees and takes the badge, but refuses to wear a gun. The Judge, disappointed, thinks of a way to get him to carry a gun. Number 6 asks Kathy to escape with him, but while he is clearing the way the Judge gets the Kid to kidnap Kathy. However, the Kid takes it too far and strangles her to death. Number 6 finds her and buries her. He then turns in his badge but picks up the gun, has a showdown with the Kid and kills him. The Judge arrives with several armed men and upon learning of Kathy's death gives Number 6 the ultimatum to work for him or be killed. Although Number 6 picks off the Judge's men he is then shot by the Judge. Number 6 awakens lying on the floor of the empty saloon. He is wearing his usual Village clothes rather than Western wear, along with earphones and microphone. All the characters that he saw are present only as paper cutouts.
Number 6 wanders groggily out of Harmony and finds that it is just an annex of the Village. He rushes to the Green Dome and finds the Judge (the new Number 2) and the Kid (Number 8). Number 6 glowers at them, notices Kathy (Number 22), and walks out disdainfully. Number 2 and Number 8 discuss the failure of their experiment. Number 22 is obviously distressed and rushes herself. Number 8 follows Number 22 back to the saloon, he calls her "Kathy" and starts strangling her as if the role playing were continuing. She screams. Number 6 hears and rushes over, but too late. Number 22 dies in Number 6's arms, in her last words wishing it had all been real. Number 2 arrives and Number 8 frantically throws himself off the saloon balcony to his death.
Additional guest cast
- Town Elder - Gordon Tanner
- Bystander - Gordon Sterne
- Will - Michael Balfour
- Mexican Sam - Larry Taylor
Directed by David Tomblin and written by Tomblin and Ian L. Rakoff, "Living in Harmony" was the first Western filmed for British television. The series' lead star and co-creator, Patrick McGoohan said in a 1977 interview that the episode came to be because the show was short of a story and he really had the desire to act in a Western. The Prisoner had originally been conceived by McGoohan as a serial of seven episodes, but ITC managing director Lew Grade had the intention to sell the series to an American network and therefore demanded twenty-six episodes. As McGoohan couldn't come up with that many stories, they made a compromise and decided upon seventeen episodes. In light of these events McGoohan and the writing staff had to come up with ten more episodes, one of which was "Living in Harmony". As McGoohan would later state, the goal of "Living in Harmony" and other padding episodes, was to "make them as visually exciting as possible but still retaining within them part of the theme of violence doesn't pay off".
McGoohan enlisted Ian L. Rakoff, who had worked as an assistant editor on earlier episodes, to write the episode. For the theme of the episode, Rakoff drew largely upon his personal experiences as part of a leftist movement in South Africa during its apartheid regime, as he believed the policies and philosophy of the apartheid regime resembled that of the village. The idea of a sheriff refusing to bear arms was directly inspired by an incident that occurred while Rakoff was in South Africa, when during a night out he had the intention of shooting a man he considered to be a racist but was stopped by another group member. Rakoff explained "Later, I was warned. If I'd wanted to go from associate to full member of the group, I'd have to be more disciplined and give up the gun. It was irresponsible in that world, at that time". In addition to his personal experiences Rankoff was influenced by cowboy Marvel Comics, the title of the episode, as well as its opening sequence were lifted from Gene Autry comic books.
Somewhat of a dispute arose after the episode's production, as Rakoff claimed Tomblin had claimed the lion's share of the writing credit, while he wrote most of the episode. According to Rakoff, Tomblin was able to do so in absence of McGoohan, who was in the United States filiming Ice Station Zebra. Aside from this conflict, stuntman Frank Maher has also claimed part of the credit for this episode in that he suggested at one point to Patrick McGoohan that the series should include an episode with a western style theme.
During the first American broadcast of the series, "Living in Harmony" was not included. CBS stated that this was because of the episode's reference to hallucinogenic drug use, yet several authors have disputed this argument, since mind-altering drugs were also present in various other episodes, yet these were not censored. Instead, they argue that the network feared Number Six' refusal to carry arms could be interpreted as an anti-war statement. As the plot was recognisably American, being a Western, they argue, the network banned the episode in fear that it carried with it a message against US presence in Southeast Asia, (the Vietnam War being at its height). Official spokesmen from CBS as well as ITC have since confirmed that the episode's implied war commentary was why it wasn't shown during its original US run.
Along with "The Girl Who Was Death" and "Fall Out", "Living in Harmony" is one of the few episodes that does not start with the show's regular intro. This was meant to challenge the audience, and stimulate them to actively engage in the show, yet it confused audiences when the episode was first broadcast in England, as Rakoff writes in Inside The Prisoner: Radical Television and Film in the 1960s.
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