THE SCHIZOID MAN
"I AM NOT
RANKED 5th For the concept of the split/double personality and the iconic image of Number Six/Curtis, good dialogues, a credible Anton Rodgers Number Two and an equally believable near-happy end. Whats more: all this is a studio-based episode.
"The Schizoid Man" episode is visually and intellectually highly intriguing: A doppelganger appears in the Village, one of them is the goodie the other one is the baddie, Employing a manipulation that runs over a period of time, the Village hopes to confuse Number Six and overwhelm his self-confidence as they confront him with himself, apparently. Due to some crucial detail and the time factor the plan is ultimately foiled. And once again we have the usual plotline of trying to outwit Number Two and a chance for the
TWO TAKES NO CHANCES, NO BULLETS, FULLY ELECTRONIC:
RIGHT: WHO'S MORE REAL? NUMBER SIX OR "THE ECONOMY PACK?
Prisoner to get away from the Village. Philosophical or sociological profoundness, perhaps shallowness, that may reach back to the early silent DER STUDENT VON PRAG (1913) are on display: such as behaviorism, "a systematic approach to understanding the behavior of humans and other animals... Although behaviorists generally accept the important role of heredity in determining behavior, they focus primarily on environmental events" [Wikipedia] as well as the experiments conducted by Ivan Pavlov. Likewise, the discourse of the original and the copy as well as that of reality and illusion dealt with in other episodes is affected and also Walter Benjamin's [Wikipedia] groundbreaking study "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". These issues come just casually here, wrapped up in an extremely intelligent story one would massively understate calling it "twisted".The production values are superb.
There is the basic statement by Number Six, also McGoohan's credo, when asked by Number Two to have his identity checked by some technical means: "The trouble with science is that it can be perverted." In the episode the two "Sixes" are visually made distinguishable from one another with the (real) doppelganger wearing a white jacket; which goes in accordance with the series' colour code for white being that of the Village, and of power, while the "existentialis" black is attributed to Number Six. Thus making it easier for viewers, not just those of 1967, to discern both.
The mind bending-premise is brilliant. Number Six is made to believe he is impersonating himself and the real impostor is treated as the genuine article. (The title is a great joke - this must be the worst case of schizophrenia ever recorded.) McGoohan is excellent in the dual role, exhibiting just enough smugness for the audience to know that the white-jacketed version is "the economy pack" and the intense perspiring model the genuine article. ...
Robert Fairclough: "THE PRISONER. The Official Companion to the Classic TV Series" (2002).
Alison would have known anyway - sympatico (as she calls it), empathy. But she works for Number Two. One thing that every
TV addict would have expected then, script writer Terence Feely says he
delivered but McGoohan wasn't willing to accept - something that still
resides in the subtext of the story: an affair with a woman.
Alison is one of the few Villagers with a proper name. She practises for a mindreading contest with Number Six. But she must be the love interest of the show that never came into being. It is said that McGoohan in person cared for the fact that there never ever was a way leading from the substitution plot of mind reading to emotion let alone kissing Alison, or even more.
"The Schizoid Man" was made by the end of 1966 during the initial production period. However,
it does not benefit particularly from location footage shot in the late summer of the year. Apart
Portmeirion stock footage it was shot completely in the former Borehamwood
Keeping that in mind, it is a good example to prove that studio-bound episodes, thinking of "A. B. and C." and "The General", don't necessarily have to be scanty while, likewise, the use of original
locations doesn't automatically result in quality stuff. By far the only real weak point of the story, unconvincing and third-rateness, is the moment we find as to
how Number Six regains control over his physical handicap by administering himself an electrical shock.
If this episode is at the zenith the nadir is held by the episode wreck called "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling".
far as special effects and acting are concerned "The Schizoid Man"
was the most demanding of the whole PRISONER series. A double role
for McGoohan, and intricate split-screen technique was used and Frank
Maher, who'd always stand in for McGoohan and who did the stunts, had to learn
A car chase and a fistfight between the two doubles were not included in the final cut of the episode.
Rover, the Village watchdog, is called by its name only in this episode (by Number Two and Number Six). The German version has no equivalent as the episode was never dubbed initially in 1969. When Rover made its first apperance in "Arrival" dialogue director Joachim Brinkmann would rename it "Hystero" the moment when Number Two calls everybody to "Be still!". Nice isn't it.
Among those many Number Twos trying to deal with the Number Six case actor Anton Rodgers is arguably one of the most remarkable characters. His presence, though, isn't Leo McKern's, but he acts upright with no obvious (acting) exaggeration. He believably delivers one who loses his orientation. The measure he's initiated almost steamrolls him. So, eventually he is lucky being able to foil Number Six' escape attempt.
But what "The Schizoid Man" really does is subversive, a rather black twist in aiming at nothing less as to undermine the basic concept of the very series: Here Number Six has to prove that he is a number!
There ist a correspondence in contrariness of this episode and "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling". Because in "The Schizoid Man" Number Six' person and personality are doubled, or duplicated, they are split in "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling". But there is a contradicton: Number Six' double/duplicated personality causes a split personality or, at least, identity crisis. On the other hand, the split personality of Number Six (in "Forsake") causes the existence of a doppelganger, a second entity of his partial identity. As the English expression double in connection with personality means split personality. It's a mind-boggling - schizoid and schizophrenic - thing. - Thanks to Michael Brüne for this observation.
FRANK MAHER (LEFT), PATRICK McGOOHAN'S STUNT DOUBLE
The episode's tone is quite serious although there is also some subtle irony. It wasn't until the release of the DVD and the dubbing produced by Franco-German TV station ARTE [PDF] that German audience witnessed the elaborate dialogues of (the real) Number Six and his doppelgänger-enemy Number Twelve. Just a taste of it:
12: What the devil...?
(Number Six approaches Number 12)
Number 12: (giggling) Oh, very good. Very good indeed. One of Number Two's little ideas, I suppose? Where did they get you? A people's copying service, or you're one of those double agents we hear so much about these days?
Number Six: (not amsed) Since you've gone through so much trouble, the least I can do is... offer you a drink.
Number 12: Scotch. (they walk into the living room)
Number 12: I take it, I'm supposed to go all fuzzy around the edges and run off into the distance, screaming "who am I"?
Number Six: Probably, I have no idea.
However, this dubbing drops some traces of irony too. Such as the "people's copying service", coined by Number Six, and the double called "the economy pack" by the Prisoner, only to be replaced by the term "fake" in the German version - a word that certainly wasn't around in 1969.
More than 40 years later the Alison character, Number 24 in the episode, played by actress Jane Merrow, would perform again with incredible authenticity in Larry Hall's short film RESOLUTION which is a non-commercial fan-based project and an inofficial coda to the series if you like.