Saturday 26 April 2008

The Prisoner

Without a doubt, the finest television show ever made was "The Prisoner". Ostensibly a spy thriller, on another level it was a sociological tract on conformity and rebellion in society, and on an even deeper level, an allegory on the suppression of Welsh culture by the English.
But apart its deep intellectual underpinnings, it also had an episode dealing with chess. "Checkmate", as it was imaginatively named, began with a chess game using living pieces, and explored the themes of who controlled who in society. As part of the series it was one of the better episodes, only ley down by the rather cavalier approach to representing the chess game itself.
Despite starting off with the correct "Pawn to King 4, Pawn to King 4, Knight to Queen's Bishop 3" it soon fell in to the trap of assuming that these terms could be used interchangeably, resulting in such moves as "Bishop to Knights Pawn 4". And due to the editing of the episode, attempts at discerning a real game failed due to the fact that the board seemed to switch back and forth between having almost all the pieces in play, to very few pieces, and back to an almost full board etc
Of course this is just nit-picking by a chess player and doesn't detract from the quality of the series itself. And if you are interested in seeing the series, I've seen DVD box sets for under $50 around the traps.

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