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A Degree Absolute!

Jun 9, 2021

Prolific screenwriter, prosewriter, comic book writer, and podcaster Ben Blacker — co-creator of the magnificent monthly-live-show-turned-podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour, and its delightful Western parody feature, Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, among his many other notable and impressive credentials — joins us this week to dissect "Living in Harmony," perhaps the curviest of The Prisoner's curveball episodes.  

With script editor George Markstein out, Patty McG and David Tomblin put out a call for The Prisoner story ideas. Ian Rakoff, a film editor with no prior screenwriting experience, responded with a pitch for a Western-themed episode, and did not learn until the episode was broadcast in the last days of 1967 that Tomblin had reduced his credit to an "idea by" nod while taking sole writing credit himself.

McGoohan stunt double/series stunt arranger Frank Maher also claims to have inspired "Living in Harmony," saying he and McGoohan cooked up the idea while playing squash. The episode gives Maher his only credited onscreen role in the series, as Third Gunman. (Also, I love knowing that McGoohan and Maher hung out together, like fading star Rick Dalton and his assistant/stuntman Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.)

Guest stars Alexis Kanner and Valerie French had played lovers only months earlier in an episode of the ITV series Love Story entitled "Cinema Verité", where their relationship was, one hopes, more... consensual than the one depicted here, between Kanner's mute sociopathic killer The Kid and French's working girl Kathy. David Bauer, who plays the crooked judge who controls Harmony and wants Six to be Sheriff (i.e., his enforcer) was an American actor who fled the blacklist and ended up in a pair of Bond flicks, 1967's You Only Live Twice and 1971's dreary Diamonds Are Forever.

"Living in Harmony"

Written by David Tomblin and Ian Rakoff

Directed by David Tomblin

Original airdate December 29, 1967

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Our song: "A Degree Absolute!"

Music and Lyrics by Chris Klimek
Arranged by Casey Erin Clark and Jonathan Clark
Vocals and Keyboards by Casey Erin Clark
Guitar, Percussion, Mixing by Jonathan Clark
Bass by Marcus Newstead