Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Season Two

Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin -- in color
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Season Two. 1965.

Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) came back for a second season of the generally light-hearted spy show, this time in color and "armed" with special pen communicators. There was more humor this season, with some rather stupid episodes, but quite a few were memorable. The two-part "Alexander the Greater Affair" features Rip Torn as a megalomaniac out to rule the world. "The Foxes and Hounds Affair" presents an amusing -- and explosive --  rivalry between two Thrush agents played by Patricia Medina and a wonderful Vincent Price. "The Dippy Blonde Affair" has a Thrush executive falling for the girlfriend (Joyce Jameson) of a colleague he murdered after she's enlisted by UNCLE to play along and find out what she can. Thrush develops a strain of deadly and nearly invisible bees in "The Birds and the Bees Affair," in which Illya and a lovely companion are subjected to torture by sonics. "The Bridge of Lions Affair" features Maurice Evans, Bernard Fox and Vera Miles in a tale of artificial rejuvenation and the power plays surrounding it. The season's best episode, "The Waverly Ring Affair," is a suspenseful business in which the agents must figure out which co-worker, Larry Blyden or Elizabeth Allen, is a traitor working for Thrush. Other good episodes include "The Ultimate Computer;" "Discotheque Affair;" "Re-Collectors;" "Arabian Affair;" "Adriatic Express;" "Project Deephole;" "Minus X Affair" with Eve Arden; and "The Children's Day Affair," in which Jeanne Cooper plays Mother Fear, who runs a boy's school and is training the little fellows to wipe out agents at a special conference. The worst episode is probably "The Deadly Toys Affair," which guest-stars an overbearing Angela Lansbury in one of her least memorable performances; way too much camp. Vaughn and McCallum are perfect and Leo G. Carroll nearly steals the show as their boss, Alexander Waverly. The souped-up theme music is pretty neat. NOTE: The big-screen adaptation of the show due in 2014 will not star Tom Cruise but rather Henry Cavell of The Man of Steel.

Verdict: Cool show if too often on the edges of camp. ***. 



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