Saturday, December 1, 2007

House of the Prisoner?

Is Hugh Laurie the new Patrick McGoohan? The more I watch "House," the more similarities I see between Laurie's Dr. House and McGoohan's Number 6 from the classic 60's TV show "The Prisoner." Laurie and McGoohan bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, which is what started my thinking about this. McGoohan was roughly the same age as Laurie was when "House" started, and an essential part of both characters is their age. They are not young men, they have seen the ups and downs of life. The physical resemblance that strikes me the most is their brilliantly blue eyes. Laurie does this thing where he puts his head slightly down, and just stares intensely with those eyes, it reminds me of so many moments in "The Prisoner" where McGoohan has exactly the same look on his face.

The characters share a completely anti-authoritarian philosophy, Number 6 for a clearer reason than House. They both use their sardonic humor to put down those in power. As House has Dr. Cuddy to constantly annoy him, so Number 6 is always matching wits and doing battle with Number 2. (How about a different Dr. Cuddy each week?) And although House ostensibly has his freedom, unlike Number 6, who is forced to remain in the Village, House is just as much a prisoner of his own narcissistic, poisoned worldview as Number 6 is. House has built his own prison, and however miserable he claims to be, he makes no attempt to escape it, unlike Number 6, who is always seeking a way out of the Village. One of the themes articulated by the last episode of "The Prisoner" is that we all are in a prison of our own making, no matter how comfortable it might seem to be. (That's all I'll say without giving too much of the last episode away.)

Those are all the similarities that spring immediately to mind, I know this isn't totally fleshed out, but I wanted to get this down before I forget it all.


Holly A Hughes said...

Now I will never be able to watch House again without expecting a big white balloon to come bouncing slowly down the hospital corridor! But I see what you mean, and I suspect Hugh Laurie would be pleased with the comparison. Two great shows, two wonderful actors. I guess we can't say that House is underrated (though I am amazed at the number of people who watch it who have no idea that Laurie is British!--just think of all his fanstatic earlier TV work they must have missed) but The Prisoner is one of those little-known cult shows that should have been better known.

Mark said...

I'm amazed too that more people don't realize that Hugh Laurie is British. I've known who he was for a long time, thanks to Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. I can safely say that when I was watching him as Bertie Wooster I never thought I would see the day that Hugh Laurie would be proclaimed "TV's Sexiest Man"! It's great to see him get the recognition he deserves, and for a really great show.

And speaking of recognition, The Prisoner should have earned Patrick McGoohan a boatload of Emmys! The Prisoner is one of my favorite shows ever, and it was so well-done. It has a very unified feel to it, the attention to detail in every aspect of the show, the writing, the acting, the sets, they were all first-rate. And the big white weather balloon was originally going to be a VW Beetle! That would not have worked!