This week’s Monster Sketch is a bit of a mystery to me. Something, and I could not tell you what, got me thinking about Rover – the featureless security automaton that patrols The Village in the 1967 sci-fi/surreal/spy show The Prisoner. My intent was to just do a sketch of Rover – a monster that shouldn’t be anywhere near as scary as it is – but I wandered a bit afield from that. I decided to sketch a couple of my favorite Number Twos (Leo McKern and Mary Morris) as well as the eponymous Prisoner himself – we can call him Number Six if you’d like. I’m sure he won’t mind.
I think my friend Chris Mills may have introduced me to The Prisoner – although I’m almost certain that I had seen a couple of episodes on PBS when I was a kid. Certainly Rover makes an impression – such a fantastic creature for being essentially a weather balloon on a string. It still inspires chills, however, especially when it’s caught a victim and you can see the impression of the poor person’s face stretching the surface (skin) of Rover.
The show has fascinated me since I first watched it and I rewatch every few years. It seems more and more relevant each time – for different reasons, though I’ve always been drawn to the individuality expressed by McGoohan’s character:
I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.
The Prisoner is a deep well, and deserves more of a dive than Monster Sketch Monday offers (especially as I’m usually doing this writeup at the last minute). Maybe I’ll rewatch later this year and write that up. In the meantime – as much as Rover was menacing, it was the parade of Number Two’s that really put some meat on the character interactions. Leo McKern has always been my favorite, and he’s got some of the best scenes. I always like Mary Morris’ turn as well, though – she manages to be intimidating even while dressed as Peter Pan. She reminds of my former neighbor Pat, a woman who I used to (jokingly) refer to as a retired CIA assassin.
If you haven’t watched The Prisoner, I highly recommend it. And if you HAVE, isn’t it ripe for a rewatch? Regardless, hope you enjoy the illustration.
Be seeing you.