This Columbo episode is packed with references to The Prisoner

Patrick McGoohan worked in several clever nods to his most famous role.

Everett Collection

Patrick McGoohan deserves a place on the Mount Rushmore of Columbo guest stars. Well, "guest star" doesn't quite do justice to his contributions to the beloved detective series. McGoohan appeared in four episodes, including his final on-screen television role, 1998's "Ashes to Ashes." The English-raised actor also directed five Columbo episodes, wrote the teleplay for another, and produced a couple, too.

Overall, the television icon, best known for his starring roles in Secret Agent (a.k.a. Danger Man) and The Prisoner, worked on Columbo from 1974 to 2000. Here, we're going to focus on "Identity Crisis," his first outing as a Columbo director. Because this episode is riddled with easter eggs for The Prisoner.

Peter Falk had his catchphrase — "Just one more thing…" — and McGoohan likewise had his own on The Prisoner. His character, the enigmatic Number Six, often says "Be seeing you." It must have delighted fans of the fantastic Sixties sci-fi series, then, to hear McGoohan tossing the line out again in "Identity Crisis." He bids farewell in an early scene with the line:

The following scene has another clever nod to Number Six, albeit a more sartorial one. McGoohan and Leslie Nielsen, playing two CIA operatives, walk through an amusement park. McGoohan sports a dark jacket with white trim — a cheeky fashion reference to the sportscoat worn by Number Six, as you can see at the top of this post.

There's more — as other fans have noted, McGoohan's character essentially becomes "number two" in his agency, a parallel to Number Two on The Prisoner.

There could be more for eagle-eyed viewers and classic television lovers to find!

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emi 39 months ago
What’s interesting is that Season 1, Episode 1 of Danger Man “View From The Villa” had location scenes filmed at Portmeirion (The Village), 8 years before The Prisoner series.
NiLandry 39 months ago
The Columbo series was already great long before this--- by the first ep. The one that starred beauty actress Lee Grant.
NiLandry 39 months ago
Yes, McGoohan's real life mom intended him to be a priest upon obtaining adulthood. He had a bad view of ladies for it!
NiLandry 39 months ago
McGoohan had trouble with ladies because he was supposed to be a priest.
WhiteRook 40 months ago
Actor Donald Pleasant was also on The Prisoner and guest starred on Columbo as the man Lt. Columbo was trying to nab.
FrankCollins 40 months ago
The most famous role of McGoohan that I watched, was in Secret Agent (Man), which had one of the very best theme songs, which was a hit for Johnny Rivers. Any chance of showing that show again?
sjb66coronet FrankCollins 39 months ago
FYI for any McGoohan fans who can get the Z Living channel on their cable lineup,2 episodes of Danger Man aka Secret Agent, is on every week day starting at 3AM. I watch or DVR it on ATT Uverse.
CarolCoons FrankCollins 39 months ago
It’s on Crackle, which is free.
AgingDisgracefully 40 months ago
I admired the way all the Mystery Movies had at least half an hour of filler in each episode.
Look! It's another overhead shot of a car driving down a road.
minaharker 40 months ago
I watched The Prisoner with my Dad when I was 11 years old. He loved it. I didn't understand a thing! lol
bnichols23 minaharker 38 months ago
A lot of people didn't. :) A letter to the London Times after the initial airing of the final episode went (pulling from memory, so may not be 115% accurate): "I have just watched the finale of Patrick McGoohan's series The Prisoner. I am now as wise as I was at the beginning. I trust Mr. McGoohan now feels much better." Gotta love British sardonicism.
DethBiz 40 months ago
Patrick McGoohan was an absolutely great actor! The only problem with him being in a Columbo is you know right away who the murderer is going to be.
JHP 40 months ago
"Patrick McGoohan deserves a place on the Mount Rushmore of Columbo guest stars"

Yeah he would be one of them

another - Jack Cassidy
another - Robert Culp
another - Leonard Nimoy
and lasty Robert Vaughn

DethBiz JHP 40 months ago
And not Shatner with his ridiculous looking ski mask? lol
JHP DethBiz 40 months ago
Thats right! I remember that one now - he looked like the shortest perp ever:)
FrankCollins JHP 40 months ago
Yes, but the actor who appeared in, by far, the most Columbo episodes (besides Peter Falk), was his wife, Shera Danese.
DethBiz FrankCollins 40 months ago
The only argument with Shera Danese being on a Mount Rushmore of Columbo guest stars is that she probably wouldn't have even been on Columbo if she wasn't married to Peter Falk.
JD401 40 months ago
Glad to see this article! McGoohan says "Be seeing you" quite a few times in the episode. I swear he ad-libbed some of them, if you look at the other actors' reactions. I have to confess, though, I never noticed the white zipper on his jacket! The whole clock-chime thing also played a part in a Danger Man episode. ALSO, he wears the same sneakers as Number Six. Fiddles his fingers like Six & Drake... etc etc etc...
justjeff 40 months ago
Johnny Rivers recorded the theme to "Secret Agent Man" when the show was 'imported' from the UK for American television release. A full version of the song was released as Imperial 66159 and it first charted on March 19, 1966, reaching #3 and spending 11 weeks on the Billboard charts.

Sidebar: I was in 8th grade at the time, and they had a record player outside the school cafeteria for students to play records on their lunch break... I heard "Secret Agent Man" so many times that's it's amazing how I never grew to hate the song - I didn't - in fact, I love Johnny's guitar riff intro!
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Wiseguy stephaniestavr5 40 months ago
"...FEWER visits from the Grammar Police."
justjeff Wiseguy 40 months ago
As Billy De Wolfe used to say, "Picky! Picky! Picky"
like that Grammar Police badge! Where did you find it? The way its made reminds me of the ones from the Girl Scouts.
Unfortunately, I don't have a patch. Just saw the pic online somewhere and copied it.

The origin of the Grammar Nazi:

[Interior Hitler's office:]

"Sir, we are mining too many useless ores."

[Hitler rubs his chin] "So, mine less."

[A grammar Nazi bursts in] "Mine fewer!"

[Hitler looks up] "Yes?"
VicVega 40 months ago
Peter Falk used to go to the same Oktoberfest as my parents. He later would attend my parents' parties at our house and I got to know him because he loved our Triple Play pinball machine, and we used to have a dart tourny, which was a lot of fun. He would say he had a "dead eye for the board". He was one of the greatest men I have met, and he wasn't too unlike his beloved character. I am fortunate to have known a few classic actors - but I wish I still had that pinball machine.
VicVega VicVega 40 months ago
Best McGoohan ep - Dawn's Early Light - a youthful Bruce Kirby, and Columbo looking for clean socks : )
Lantern VicVega 40 months ago
That's my favorite McGoohan episode also.
Phb VicVega 40 months ago
Glad to see your comment because my Dad wrote that ep (& The Conspirators, the last of the original 70s episodes) and Patrick McGoohan won an Emmy for it! My father and Peter Falk became good friends and by coincidence I wound up handling his PR for a while and he was great (a little forgetful, but great!).
madvincent VicVega 40 months ago
Hi triple play was more a “ bingo” machine than pinball although still a 1955 electro mechanical machine with no flippers
Still a keeper
BrittReid 40 months ago
Interesting story. "Danger Man' and "The Prisoner" were good shows.
TheDavBow3 40 months ago
Recently tried to watch "The Prisoner" and "Danger Man". I just couldn't get through them. Very uninteresting and a bit boring, I thought.
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Actually, FETV isn't just like MeTV. MeTV is an over-the-air network. FETV is a cable TV network.
jeopardyhead 40 months ago
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teethclenched JD401 39 months ago
I could have listened to McGoohan read the local phone book (back when we had phone books!) and would have been entertained! Great talent.
AndreaZ jeopardyhead 38 months ago
Cripes, what a pedant you are. What is wrong with you? Everyone here but you knows what she meant when comparing FETV to METV. In fact, show her comment to a million people and all but you would know what she meant.
Pdls 40 months ago
He was actually raised in Ireland. He was great in "Danger Man" as well.
MikefromJersey Pdls 40 months ago
His Irish parents moved to NY, where Patrick was born. They later moved to the UK where
he grew up and made his bones in entertainment. He held both Irish and American
citizenship, but because of The Prisoner etc. everyone assumes he is British.
If you ever ran into him, he would tell you he was American. He was an extremely
religious family man and tried to avoid violence and love scenes in his work.
MikefromJersey 40 months ago
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Hi Steph,
They thought McGoohan was British because by growing up there, he could affect a English accent flawlessly and get jobs as British characters, like # 6 in The Prisoner. Like American Mel Gibson growing up in Australia, starring in many films there before he hit Hollywood. I remember
him on the Tonite Show switching back and forth between American English and the Aussie
"strine", it was very funny.
MarkSpeck stephaniestavr5 40 months ago
For the longest time, I thought Robert Vaughn was British, because of his manner of speech and also because he was in a spy series. Imagine my surprise to discover that he was born in Connecticut and raised in Minnesota!
Andybandit 40 months ago
Cool story. I like watching Columbo every Sunday, and I like he says "Oh Just one more thing".
Andybandit 40 months ago
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jaelinsmith40652 40 months ago
I want to see that episode MeTV. Columbo was interesting spy drama show like Mannix and May God Rest William Link who created Columbo, and Mannix and other shows that he also produced and write other TV shows and movies along his buddy Richard Levinson. I wonder if you can talk about Iwrin Allen and Quinn Martin, and Levinson and Link productions too.
jaelinsmith40652 40 months ago
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jaelinsmith40652 40 months ago
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What a very great book for me to study about television and broadcasting, thanks alot i like about Columbo on MeTV since summer of MeTV and Mannix,Cannon,Barnaby Jones, Highway Patrol, and Dragnet since November - December 2020.
jaelinsmith40652 40 months ago
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Hi Steph,
"Broderick Crawford starring in Highway Patrol" by Gary Goltz is out. Gary runs the Highway Patrol
website, which is chock full of goodies such as tie in toys and behind the scenes color photos.
He takes his police car, exactly like Crawford's, to car shows and he is well known in those
circles. His website is like the acme, daddy-o, the ginchiest, in the parlance of late 1950's
California Cool, like on 77 Sunset Strip.
MarkSpeck stephaniestavr5 40 months ago
The name of the QM book is Quinn Martin, Producer, written by Jonathan Etter.

I'm actually mentioned in the acknowledgements of that book. I supplied a couple of important Untouchables episodes that Jon needed to see for the chapter on that series (Martin produced the first season of The Untouchables, not long before he formed his own company).
Thank you so much for commenting to me. I feel honored. Many times I have read where so and so replies to someone who either knew a celebrity, or, such as yourself, contributed to a book. I have wondered what that would feel like if it were to happen to me. Well, now it has. Talk about mind blowing!! {Sorry, if I seem a little nutsoid about this this. Until now, this has been uncharted territory.} Someone who has contributed to a published book, has responded to li'l old me!
Thank you for the info., but I was supplying it for another METVer above: JaelinSmith40652 If you could, perhaps pass that along to them I would appreciate it. I just didn't have the book by me, so I couldn't do it. If you already have, than never mind. Thanks again for the reply!
Greg 40 months ago
The Prisoner was the most innovative imaginative series ever aired. A complex plot that doesn't treat the audience as if they're stupid.
OldTVfanatic Greg 40 months ago
Now it’s become our way of life with power-mad Number Twos calling the shots.
teethclenched OldTVfanatic 39 months ago
Heh...six of one, half a dozen of the other...
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