“Open Channel D.”
Perhaps you’re a bona fide fan of the original. Or you’ve been intrigued (or perhaps let down) by the recent big screen prequel/remake. Either way, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series brings you all four campy seasons of the cult classic television series starring Robert Vaughn as quick-witted secret agent Napoleon Solo (a man who has no problem taking time out during a chase to tell a story and who has no inhibitions whatsoever with making a wisecrack at the most impromptu of occasions) and the David Hyde Pierce of his time, David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin, Solo’s impeccably well-mannered, fairly no-nonsense fellow agent. Both men work for U.N.C.L.E. – an acronym for “United Network Command for Law and Enforcement” – under the lead of Mr. Alexander Waverly (Topper star Leo G. Carroll, who looks like he’s at least one sheet to the wind half of the time).
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted on American television in 1964, the same year as Goldfinger (the show was originally intended to have been called “Solo,” but a character from the Bond film who had the exact same name kind of put a damper on that; Bond creator Ian Fleming was even a consultant for the series). The first version of the series’ pilot was shot in color (and released to theaters both domestically and internationally) and many of the series’ two-parters were edited together and also released to theaters. Sadly, only one of the eight theatrical rehashes (One Spy Too Many) is included in this set (as a note to collectors, the remaining feature-length reduxs are available on Manufactured-On-Demand DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection).
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was everything then that this genre of television – and probably theatrical remakes, too – should be now: plenty of action, intrigue, humor that doesn’t too ahead of itself (well, save for Season 3), lots of James Bondian gadgetry, and a generous serving of gorgeous ’60s babes, too. Stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum undoubtedly had some of the greatest on-screen chemistry on the history of television ever, and managed to play off of each other like two old friends that have both been the world over, several times over. But it wasn’t just the case: U.N.C.L.E.‘s writing, directing, and cinematography were just as marvelous – recruiting many a creative mind which would only go on to become big name Hollywood talent (such as Richard Donner and Robert Towne). A heap of numerous and magnificent guest stars certainly didn’t hurt any, either.
But enough of that. [drumroll] Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I hereby present to you my Semi-Comprehensive Episode Guide/DVD Review for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series.
Season One, Disc One:
Episode One: “The Vulcan Affair” – The pilot episode (complete with a feeling of “huh?” – most likely due to the re-shooting and re-editing of some scenes from the original pilot to form this episode). Napoleon Solo is sent in to stop Thrush agent Andrew Vulcan (Fritz Weaver) from assassinating Western Natumba leader Ashumen (Blacula himself, William Marshall). Since Illya stays behind at the tailor shop, Solo has to enlist Vulcan’s former sweetheart-turned-housewife (Pat Crowley). Look quick for Richard “Jaws” Kiel as one of Vulcan’s thugs.
Luigi’s Useless Information: As to how you can make a pilot episode without really utilizing your other characters (Illya and Mr. Waverly) is beyond me (they weren’t intended to be major characters at first). Fortunately, the appearance of both Blacula and Eegah make up for it.
Episode Two: “The Iowa-Scuba Affair” – Slim Pickens is hell bent on taking over the world (or maybe just a country in South America). Either way, it’s a scary thought. No Illya in this one. Tsk, tsk.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Sadly, Slim does not get to ride a bomb in this one.
Episode Three: “The Quadripartite Affair” – Say it five times fast. Go on, I dare you. Not only did the writers finally decide to actually write David McCallum’s second-billed character in this time, but they also make up for it by exposing him to a nerve gas…which they make up for by giving him a little lovin’ at the end (off camera, of course…this was ’60s TV after all!) with Jill Ireland (his real-life wife at the time). Anne Francis plays one of the baddies (who gets away in the end).
Luigi’s Useless Information: Roger C. Carmel (Mudd in two classic original Star Trek episodes) co-stars as a Yugoslavian who lives with goats (he spanks them, too).
Season One, Disc Two:
Episode Four: “The Shark Affair” – The great Robert Culp is Captain Shark: the courteous commander of a modern-day pirate ship and whose behavior is extremely irrelevant. The U.N.C.L.E. boys are confused as to why Shark steals items like shoelaces and aspirin amid kidnapping random people (“Are there any amongst you who can tune a piano?”), but when they manage to sneak on-board his ship, they learn of one man’s noble-yet-somewhat-demented promise to keep the human race alive. Star Trek regular James Doohan shows up briefly in the beginning.
Luigi’s Useless Information: I would have loved to have seen Robert Culp play Bruce Campbell’s father in a completely ad-libbed stage play. It would have been great, I’m sure.
Episode Five: “The Deadly Games Affair” – An old SS officer (Frankenstein’s Daughter co-star and bit player extraordinaire Felix Locher) turns up dead, and the ex-Nazi scientist (Alexander Scourby) he was assigned to watch disappears. Thrush agent Angelique (Janine Gray) also joins the picture.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Here we all thought Hitler’s head was alive, well, and in the company of those Madmen of Mandoras. But, as it turns out, he was intact and in a state of suspended animation in Scourby’s basement the whole time!
Episode Six: “The Green Opal Affair” – Archie Bunker is a bad, bad man. Carroll O’Connor plays Thrush agent Walter Brach, a wheelchair-bound, number obsessed, Dr. Strangelove impersonator who enjoys feeding sharks and cheetahs in his spare time. Napoleon infiltrates his troupe as a nerdy accountant and winds up being chosen for a brainwashing experiment!
Luigi’s Useless Information: Hey, check it out: the thug in the pith helmet Napoleon karate chops in the back of the neck looks just like Doug from Scrubs.
Season One, Disc Three:
Episode Seven: “The Giuoco Piano Affair” – Anne Francis and Jill Ireland return from “The Quadripartite Affair” (as does John Van Dreelen). When villains Gervaise Ravel and Harold Buffer ton (Francis and Van Dreelen) eliminate an U.N.C.L.E. agent (most undoubtedly due to his acting abilities), Illya has to persuade Marion Raven back into the picture as bait (which doesn’t go over well).
Luigi’s Useless Information: Look for several key members of the crew including director Richard Donner (who plays a drunken guy that Jill Ireland joyously slaps) and producers Joe Calvelli (as a writer who is most impressed with Illya’s vocabulary) and Norman Felton at Ireland’s party and producer Sam Rolfe as an oilman. And get a load of that mask Napoleon wears: it looks like monster from The Brainiac!
Episode Eight: “The Double Affair” – Those bastards at Thrush are at it again…only this time they have a double for Napoleon whom they send in to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. Sexy Senta Berger plays the Thrush agent and Playboy Playmate Donna Michelle shows up as well (she was in the May 1964 issue…a beloved issue if there ever was one!).
Luigi’s Useless Information: This episode introduced a new (better) opening credit sequence.
Episode Nine: “The Project Strigas Affair” – Just when you thought a show like this couldn’t get any better, you see a familiar face in the opening credits and a title announcing the special guest star’s name: William Shatner. Then, as the episode plays out, you see another famous profile: Leonard Nimoy! Throw is Narda Onyx (whom you will no doubt know from Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter) and you’ve got a classic episode on your hand…who cares what it’s about! But, if you must know, Napoleon and Illya convince Michael Donfield (the Shat) to pretend to be an American agent to get some Russians to bite. Napoleon also asks The Shat if he can pretend to be a womanizer and an alcoholic. Priceless.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Just wait until you hear Leonard Nimoy’s Russian accent. Just as priceless.
Season One, Disc Four:
Episode Ten: “The Finny Foot Affair” – No wonder Snake Plissken was such a bad-ass: he once fought along side of Napoleon Solo! Yes, a loveable little Kurt Russell guest stars as a young lad who tags along with Napoleon to Norway as he investigates the mystery behind a small Scottish island whose residents all died from rapid aging. The villains in this one are Japanese – even though most of the actors playing them aren’t, which will surely delight many an easily-offended viewer.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Russ Meyer/Ted V. Mikels fans take note: this episode features cult icon Tura Satana as the oh-so-sexy bad girl. Look quick for ’50s Columbia contract player Gene Roth (best remembered as a Three Stooges foil, or from serials) as a customs agent.
Episode Eleven: “The Neptune Affair” – Illya is furious over a series of missile attacks on Mother Russia that are destroying grain fields. Napoleon ventures to Southern California to find out what’s going on and finds Lost in Space beauty Marta Kristen in the process (score, Solo!). Henry Jones and Jeremy Slate play the bad guys.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Let’s play “Guess the Missing Word”, kids! Several lines are spoken in this episode using the word “hydro” but they are obviously dubbed over. See if you can figure out what the original word was (more importantly, see if you can find out why they changed the word – and then let me know).
Episode Twelve: “The Dove Affair” – Not being content with charming Marta Kristen in the previous episode, Napoleon gets involved in a plot twist with her Lost in Space mother, June Lockhart. Napoleon races head-to-head with master-spy/general Satine (the great Ricardo Montalban) for a dove-shaped broche that belonged to the nation’s recently-deceased leader before those ne’er-do-wells at Thrush get a hold of it.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Noted screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown) penned the script for this one. For some reason, he left Illya out of it, but karma managed to get back to him with Mission: Impossible II. Towne also co-starred – under the alias Edward Wain – in two Roger Corman films: The Last Woman on Earth (from his own very first script) and the underrated no-budget mobster/horror spoof The Creature from the Haunted Sea.
Season One, Disc Five:
Episode Thirteen: “The King of Knaves Affair” – Jan Merlin, the world’s least intimidating-sounding bad guy knives down a power-plant official whose conversation is being recorded by Solo and Kuryakin. Acting on a hunch, our heroes travel to Rome to figure get their scripts so they can find out what the hell is going on in this episode. Martin Landau-clone Paul Stevens – an accomplished bit player in many television shows until his untimely demise in 1986, best remembered by cult film lovers as the psychiatrist who discovers the deadly dangers of The Mask (1961) – guest stars.
Luigi’s Useless Information: If sexy Italian U.N.C.L.E. agent Gemma Lusso looks familiar, it’s because she is played by Arlene Martel, who portrayed Spock’s wife T’Pring (one of the few Vulcans whose name didn’t start with the letter S) in the original Star Trek episode “Amok Time” and Constance, the poor woman who would get caught up in Robert Culp’s war with stocking-capped aliens from the future in a classic episode of The Outer Limits, “Demon With A Glass Hand” (a personal favorite).
Episode Fourteen: “The Terbuf Affair” – Clara Valdar, an old girlfriend of Napoleon, urges Solo to help her escort gypsy leader Emil out of Terbuf. What Clara (Madlyn Rhue) doesn’t know is that her own husband is in cahoots with the enemy and plans to double-cross her. Former amateur boxer/Roger Corman actor and future voice-over artist Michael Forest plays one of the bad guys.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Let’s see here. So, so far, U.N.C.L.E. has featured Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Scotty, Mudd, Spock’s Wife, Khan, and Khan’s wife (Madlyn Rhue), too! Best line: (Solo to Illya) “You know, your stock of obscure, miscellaneous information never ceases to amaze me.”
Episode Fifteen: “The Deadly Decoy Affair” – The capture of Thrush agent Egon Stryker (Robert Taeger) prompts Solo and Kuryakin to escort the wisecracking Stryker to Washington while Mr. Waverly takes a double via an alternate route. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned and Stryker winds up handcuffed to a blonde in a fur coat (Joanna Moore). At one point in this episode, Robert Vaughn’s character says “Damn it!”
Luigi’s Useless Information: For some reason, this episode had an alternate opening segment, wherein Robert Vaughn stepped out from behind the familiar Season One-era cracked, bullet-ridden glass to welcome the audience to (and gives a brief synopsis of tonight’s episode). This particular variety of opening never appeared again.
Season One, Disc Six:
Episode Sixteen: “The Fiddlesticks Affair” – Or, the Ocean’s Eleven affair: Thrush’s treasury is concealed in a high-tech vault beneath a casino front run by Anton Korbel, cigar smoker and future champagne magnate (Ken Murray with a bad crew cut). In order to accomplish this, Solo will have to woo his way into the heart of naïve Minneapolis girl Susan Callaway (Marlyn Mason) while Illya has to recruit safecracker Marcel Rudolph (Dan O’Herlihy).
Luigi’s Useless Information: You gotta love the casino’s office safe: one button, two lights and a conveyor belt.
Episode Seventeen: “The Yellow Scarf Affair” – Scottish U.N.C.L.E. agent Macalister (Willard Sage) is murdered by a revived Thugee cult in India while transporting a top-secret Thrush device. Solo and Thrush agent Tom Simpson (Linden Chiles) both arrive to figure the whole mess out. Indian beauty Kamala Devi guest stars.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Amazing. Amid having an actual Indian portray an Indian on television (Devi), we also have two extremely white guys in greasy make-up (Murray Matheson and David Sheiner) and an Italian (Vito Scotti).
Episode Eighteen: “The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair” – Mr. Hemingway (Richard Haydn) is an enigmatic individual who delights in playing strange pranks on the staff of the U.N.C.L.E. headquarters: sending a toy plane to disable the rooftop laser, messing with the alarm system, placing guppies in the water supply and sending in a poor, hapless citizen (Zohra Lampert). Meanwhile, Thrush agent Dr. Egret (Lee Merriwether) sends her secret minion, U.N.C.L.E. technician Riley (Peter Haskell). Almost the entire episode takes place in the U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. Mary Mitchel (Spider Baby) plays the radar girl.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Vaughn and McCallum exchange some dialogue about playing ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ to which McCallum remarks “The penalty of playing my part successfully. Now I’m typecast?” This would later prove to be true for both actors.
Season One, Disc Seven:
Episode Nineteen: “The Secret Sceptre Affair” – Illya joins Solo on a personal mission in the Middle East to aid his old commanding officer, Col. Morgan (Gene Raymond). Morgan plans to steal a scepter from Premier Karim (Jack Donner) with the help of his shapely assistant Zia (Ziva Rodann). But when Illya is captured and Karim swears that he is not the villain, Napoleon begins to wonder what’s really going on.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Ziva Rodann held her own against several other well known beauties of the ’60s in College Confidential with Mamie Van Doran, and 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt with Jayne Mansfield, and would later play Nefertiti to Victor Buono’s King Tut on two episodes of another ’60s television cult sensation, Batman.
Episode Twenty: “The Bow-Wow Affair” – Mr. Waverly’s cousin, Lester Baldwin (also played by Leo G. Carroll) receives a threat from Andre Delgrovia (Paul Lambert, dressed like a vampire) to sell some shares at a reduced cost, so Waverly asks Solo and Illya to help out. Since Solo is recovering from a sprained knee (he tripped over the office cat), Illya has to go most of this episode alone (’bout damn time) and gets to flirt with the ladies for a change (including Susan Oliver and Antoinette Bower). Dogs attacking their owners and Pat Harrington, Jr. as an Italian dog expert add to the fun.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Look quick for cult icon Reggie Nalder as Baldwin’s servant (and I mean real quick!).
Episode Twenty-One: “The Four Steps Affair” – Thunderball villainess and The Green Slime damsel in distress Luciana Paluzzi lends her oh-so-sexy Italian accent and figure to this episode as a Thrush agent who is part of a plan to assassinate 10-year-old Shantian leader Miki (Michel Petit). Donald Harron lends a hand as U.N.C.L.E. agent Kitt Kittridge and the familiar face of Malachi Throne shows up as well as Miki’s guardian.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Oh, to be in Mr. Vaughn’s shoes during the scene in which he frisks Paluzzi. Anybody else ever notice that the music here sometimes sounds like Sammy Davis’ “E-O-11” tune from Oceans Eleven?
Season One, Disc Eight:
Episode Twenty-Two: “The See-Paris-and-Die Affair” – If the casting director put one more fabulous guest star into this episode, the results could have been dire. Dutch cousins Max und Josef Van Schreeten (veteran television greats Lloyd Bochner and Gerald Mohr, respectively) managed to take steal a cool half-billion from a diamond syndicate and have successfully blackmailed them out of a million dollars (the first of what is to be many payments) to prevent them from flooding the market. Thrush is just as interested in this whole affair as much as U.N.C.L.E. and they’ve sent in two agents (Kevin Hagen and Alfred Ryder). Naturally, things would not be complete without a woman: so how about a stunning female vocalist (Kathryn Hays) that both cousins (and Solo) are crazy for?
Luigi’s Useless Information: Despite his on-screen appearances, Gerald Mohr is better known to some fans as an off-screen talent: he voiced The Scorpion is Republic’s immortal serial, The Adventures Of Captain Marvel, performed in over 500 radio plays (he played Philip Marlowe in nearly 120) from the 30s to the 50s, narrated both the radio and television series of The Lone Ranger as well as providing the voices of Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic) and Hal Jordan (aka The Green Lantern) in several late ’60s animated superhero series.
Episode Twenty-Three: “The Brain Killer Affair” – Another fun episode. Elsa Lanchester (The Bride of Frankenstein) plays the diabolical Dr. Dubree, an agent for Thrush who has developed an ingenious method of mental assassination to destroy the good guys and her target is Mr. Waverly. While Waverly is held hostage by the brain butchering physician, Mr. Samoy from India steps in to help out (Abraham Sofaer). The late Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig plays the heroine in this one. Liam Sullivan, Rosey Greer (his first acting job) and Nancy Kovack also guest star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Abraham Sofaer’s distinguished profile (read: bulging eyes and a big-ass nose) were his ticket to stardom: he was always cast as ethnic characters (from good-natured to downright evil). On an entirely different note, if you were to offer me Lynda Carter in her Wonder Woman outfit and Yvonne Craig in her Batgirl costume, I would take Yvonne Craig each and every time. Just watch this episode and you’ll see why even Tommy Kirk wanted her in Mars Needs Women, too.
Episode Twenty-Four: “The Hong Kong Schilling Affair” – A rare schilling becomes a sought-after item of a criminal organization that sells top-secret government information to the highest bidder (and whose boss is known as ‘Apricot’). An innocent passer-by (Glenn Corbett) gets caught up in the whole mess and begins to develop a fixation for Heavenly Cortelle (Karen Sharpe): a beautiful operative whose speech pattern does not implicate the use of contractions. Richard Kiel plays Merry, one of Apricot’s henchmen.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Unlike his two-second cameo in the pilot episode, the late Richard Kiel gets a lot of screen time and dialogue in this episode (and has a lot of fun by the look of things, too). Gavin MacLeod – everyone’s favorite good-natured Love Boat captain – plays a bad guy here. How’s that for diversity?
Season One, Disc Nine:
Episode Twenty-Five: “The Never, Never Affair” – Cesar Romero plays the world’s most loveable and charismatic villain ever (his character is French, naturally). Barbara Feldon plays an U.N.C.L.E. translator who longs for the same action-filled world Mr. Solo lives in. When Solo finally gives in and sends her on a dummy mission to fill Mr. Waverly’s humidor with his favorite kind of tobacco, she winds up with more than she bargained for when she is kidnapped by Victor Gervais (Romero) who is after a list of French U.N.C.L.E. operatives.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Aside from the wonderful acting talents of both Feldon and Romero, this episode features a marvelous shoot-out in a movie theater that almost foreshadows Peter Bogdanovich’s unforgettable classic Targets (which came out three years after this episode aired).
Episode Twenty-Six: “The Love Affair” – What is it about evangelists that people find so fascinating? Napoleon investigates religious leader Brother Love (Green Acres) and his fellow cult members (including another Roger Corman graduate, Antony Carbone) who dress a lot like druids and go around saying “All you need is Love!” (or something like that). Is Love just another cover for Thrush? Maggie Pierce plays the Love interest (pun intended).
Luigi’s Useless Information: It’s kind of nice to see some people of the ’60s didn’t think terribly highly of evangelists any higher than they do today.
Episode Twenty-Seven: “The Gazebo in the Maze Affair” – G. Emory Partridge (George Sanders) seeks revenge on Solo and U.N.C.L.E. for having spoiled his fun a seven years back in South America: he kidnaps Illya and holds him hostage in a gazebo dungeon (!) located in the middle of a giant labyrinth in his garden (this guy has a great backyard, I must say). Jeanette Nolan plays Sanders’ sweet-natured sadist of a wife (wow, she’s amazing!).
Luigi’s Useless Information: Russian Illya is knocked out with an umbrella dispensing some sort of sedative (operated by an Englishman). Thirteen years later in England, Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov would be assassinated by an umbrella that injected him with a pellet filled with poison, presumably arranged by the KGB. Coincidence? I think not.
Season One, Disc Ten:
Episode Twenty-Eight: “The Girls of Nazarone Affair” – Napoleon and Illya search for a missing doctor in the French Riviera and discover a bevy of lethal motor racing Thrush beauties led by Madame Streigau (Marian McCargo) and Lucia Nazarone (Danica D’Hondt) and a formula that advances the ability to heal. Kipp Hamilton, the singer from War of the Gargantuas, plays the good girl. Steigau turns out to be Dr. Egret (see episode 1.13).
Luigi’s Useless Information: The former Mrs. Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate, shows up as one of the bad girls – just four years after she made her debut in films and four years before her death at the hands of the Manson Family.
Episode Twenty-Nine: “The Odd Man Affair” – When an infamous assassin that Illya is shadowing takes his life on an airplane, Mr. Waverly asks Albert Sully, a retired OSS operative to shed some light on the mysterious dead man so that Solo can take his place at an International meeting of terrorists. Sully (the magnificent Martin Balsam) refuses to give any information and instead insists on playing the part himself. Upon entering London, Sully gives Napoleon and Illya the slip, taking the opportunity to find an old flame (British horror scream queen Barbara Shelley) to help him out (he, as it turns out, knows nothing).
Luigi’s Useless Information: This episode would be the last of the first season, as well as the last episode to be filmed in black and white.
With Season Two, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. made a big move to the wonderful world of color. With it came a new opening, a pre-credit sequence for each episode, some swingin’ sixties music and a newer theme tune. It also hit a higher setting on the cult TV scale through the use of some increasingly campy dialogue (a full year before Batman hit the airwaves, I might add). Love it or hate it (and how could you possibly hate it, you Thrush dog, you?), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was now more popular than ever, and taking the world by storm.
Season Two, Disc One:
Episodes One and Two: “Alexander the Greater Affair: Parts 1 & 2” – Ever wonder what Rip Torn looked like when he was young, thin and didn’t have a goatee? Here, the man who would be Torn plays Mr. Alexander: a bad guy with an Alexander the Great complex (hey, it’s better than a Messiah complex, isn’t it?), who swipes some of the Army’s new Will Gas (a new nerve toxin that makes the enemy completely lose their will to fight), leaving behind a small stone tablet with an “8” on it. When the Men from U.N.C.L.E. begin to investigate, Alexander’s estranged wife Tracey (Dorothy Provine) starts tagging along so that she can finalize her divorce and get her settlement. The three of them find Alexander’s mum and dad slaving their days away in a Greek rock quarry (well, Bronson Cavern) with a “5” painted on it. Turns out Alexander can (somehow) take over the world by breaking the Ten Commandments – and it’s up to Napoleon and Illya to stop him! David Sheiner plays Torn’s devoted henchman.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Rip Torn’s hilariously deadpan and emotionless performance as Alexander makes him one of the most unique villains in TV history. The wonderful James Hong and Playboy Playmate Donna Michelle (thank you, God) co-star (this two-parter would be her second, third and last appearance on the series). Cal Bolder (Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter) and Teru Shimada (You Only Live Twice) show up in the second chapter. These were also the only episodes not feature the article “The” at the beginning of their episode titles
Episode Three: “The Ultimate Computer Affair” – Illya gets himself thrown into a South American prison under the command of the perverted Governor Callahan (Charles Ruggles) who plays strip poker with his two nurses and the sadistic Captain Cervantes (Roger C. Carmel, again) so that he can get closer to Thrush’s new ultimate computer which will make things most difficult for the whole world. Solo has to pose as the husband of prison inspector Salty Oliver (Judy Carne, looking rather sexy in a skirt with short red hair and glasses) to get inside. To do so, he convinces Ms. Oliver by informing her that if the Thrush computer is used, there’s “a very good chance that half the people of the world will be subjected to a subservience far worse than the poor souls that you administer unto at the penal colony.” Which evidently means Thrush developed Windows 10, as well.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Wait until you hear Illya’s subtle mariachi take of “Hava Nagila” towards the opening. It could very well be one of the subliminally funniest things in the history of ever.
Season Two, Disc Two:
Episode Four: “The Foxes and Hounds Affair” – And what would a series like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. be without the charms and talents of the great Vincent Price? Good ol’ Vinnie co-stars as Victor Marton: a Thrush operative who races against Mr. Kuryakin and Agent Cantrell (Adam Roarke) to get their grubby little hands on a mind-reading machine invented by a magician named Merlin (Andre Philippe). When an oblivious-to-this-affair Napoleon gets back from vacation, Mr. Waverly lovingly puts him through hell: he locks him out of headquarters and assigns him to escort an unknowing, unwilling decoy (Julie Sommars).
Luigi’s Useless Information: True to form, Vincent Price chews up all of the scenery, and I loved every second of it. To say Price was a god among men would be an understatement. After all, how many other horror movie legends wrote cookbooks?
Episode Five: “The Discotheque Affair” – Following Vincent Price as the guest star is never an easy job, so the casting directors of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. give us three cult favorites to fill his shoes: Ray Danton (Secret Agent Super Dragon), Eric Braeden (as Hans Gudegast), and Harvey Lembeck (from the Beach Party films). Danton bombs his old HQ (a vacuum shop) with Solo in it and starts up a new one (that fronts as a go-go club complete with middle-aged dancers galore). When Braeden enters the picture, he and Danton bug the building the U.N.C.L.E. HQ’s entrance is adjacent to (Mr. Waverly bought it to increase their security measures), but their plans are thwarted when Solo (with a broken arm) discovers the bug whilst visiting tenant Sandy (Judi West), whom Danton later recruits as a dancer. Illya goes undercover as a bassist.
Luigi’s Useless Information: As Tiger Ed, Thrush’s entertainment guru, Harvey Lembeck wears a lounge jacket that even Richard Cheese wouldn’t wear and also sports the worst looking Beatle-style hairdo ever. Oddly enough, Frankie and Annette don’t show up in this one. Much like episode 1.11, “The Neptune Affair,” you get the opportunity to play “Guess the Missing Word” again when Solo mentions his torch lighter.
Episode Six: “The Re-Collectors Affair” – A man nonchalantly shoots down a Madrid hotel bellhop in cold blood before phoning the police. The man, Gregori Valetti (Theodore Marcuse, who most certainly should have won an award) works for the Re-Collectors, a group of Nazi Hunters working to retrieve some priceless art that the war criminals stole back in ‘45. Solo masquerades as an art collector and gets caught up in the Re-Collector’s real motives. George Macready plays the Re-Collector leader, while the great Vic Tayback co-stars as an Italian police sergeant (with an expectedly horrible Italian accent). The lovely Jocelyn Lane plays the hot chick of the episode.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The bellhop Marcuse kills at the beginning is played by serial/b-movie/western bit-player-extraordinaire Gene Roth (making his second U.N.C.L.E. appearance). Strangely enough, both actors from that scene would later be killed by automobiles: Marcuse died in a collision in 1967 – the same year Roth retired – while Roth himself would be struck down by a hit-and-run driver in ‘76.
Season Two, Disc Three:
Episode Seven: “The Arabian Affair” – While on assignment in the Middle-East, Illya finds a secret Thrush base that has developed a new soapy foam that disintegrates people! Yes, you read that correctly. When he is abducted by some desert-bound Arabs, Solo has to convince a retiring Thrush agent (Robert Ellenstein) to switch sides if he values his life (wait, Thrush gives retirement parties?). Illya has to pretend he’s the son of T.E. Lawrence to gain the trust of the Arabs. iconic Star Trek villain Michael Ansara – who later appeared with Mr. McCallum on the big screen in Sol Madrid – plays the Arab leader, while Phyllis Newman co-stars as his daughter Sophie (a rather odd name for an Arabian woman if I do say so myself). Stuntmen George Sawaya and Bill Couch both play bit parts.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Robert Ellenstein wears a great deal of makeup to make him look older, but instead it kind of makes him look like Lee Van Cleef playing an Asian. Ellenstein would later secure his sci-fi fan base by playing in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Episode Eight: “The Tigers are Coming Affair” – David McCallum and Charles Bronson weren’t the only ones to have ever loved Jill Ireland. It would seem the casting director did, too – as this time, she winds up in Robert Vaughn’s arms! Jill plays a French humanitarian whom U.N.C.L.E. asks to help out with investigating Indian Prince Panat (Lee Bergere) that loves to go on tiger hunts (and who no doubt is a dentist, too). He also disposes of U.N.C.L.E. agents with the help of his aide, Colonel Quillon (Alan Caillou).
Luigi’s Useless Information: In addition to the occasional acting gig, Alan Caillou also wrote the teleplay for this episode, served as writer on several more U.N.C.L.E. episodes, and wrote feature length films such as Village of the Giants, Clarence, The Cross-Eyed Lion, and Kingdom of the Spiders.
Episode Nine: “The Deadly Toys Affair” – When Thrush agents Telemakian and Herd (character actors Arnold Moss and John Hoyt, respectively) eliminate Dr. Barshefsky (actor/stuntman Gil Perkins), they stand to gain an heir: his genius son, Bartlett (Jay North, Dennis the Menace). Napoleon and Illya have to bring Bartlett back to the States to prevent Thrush from raising him to be a criminal mastermind. Solo masquerades as a novelty toys salesman and Kuryakin as the hairdresser of token hottie, Joanna (Diane McBain, Surfside 6), a friend of Bartlett’s only surviving relative, glamour actress Effie Van Donck (as played by some complete unknown named Angela Lansbury). Got that?
Luigi’s Useless Information: Phew! Could they have crammed any more guest stars into this episode? All the ladies find Illya more attractive than Solo this time around – which causes Solo to only get the teensiest bit jealous.
Season Two, Disc Four:
Episode Ten: “The Cherry Blossoms Affair” – Solo is assigned to meet a defecting Thrush scientist with a top secret reel of film at the airport. A female Japanese assassin does away with the good doctor and runs off with a roll of film, but unfortunately for her, they’ve grabbed a film belonging to Cricket Okasada (France Nuyen, sporting a hairdo that looks like a precursor to Carrie Fisher’s famous cinnamon-buns from the original Star Wars). Upon reviewing the contents of the film, Mr. Waverly discovers Thrush has invented a volcanic activator-disruptor-thingy (it makes volcanoes erupt via stock footage) and sends Illya to guard Miss Okasada and Solo to infiltrate a known Japanese Thrush HQ: a karate school (naturally) run by Kam Tong (Have Gun, Will Travel). Several character actors ham it up here: Woodrow Parfrey is the Thrush agent that whines about the lack of air conditioning, Jerry Fujiyama (the gardener from Chinatown) portrays the baseball-obsessed Thrush commander and Lloyd Kino plays the amusing Japanese police lieutenant who jokes that the Japanese could make U.N.C.L.E. equipment for half the price.
Luigi’s Useless Information: This episode features lots of impaling: Illya gets tossed into a room where the floor moves back revealing spikes and Solo is tied down to a metal grate with sharpened bamboo sticks beneath him. The villains even water the bamboo to make them grow slowly up and through his back!
Episode Eleven: “The Virtue Affair” – A modern descendant of French revolutionary Robespierre (Robert Long) is determined to destroy the vineyards of France with a nuclear missile (he finds drinking to be a non-virtuous trait). Solo is assigned to guard the daughter of a murdered scientist and Illya is given the task of infiltrating Robespierre’s operation through Carl Voegler, hunter-extraordinaire (Frank Marth). Mala Powers co-stars as Albert Dubois, the heroine.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Highlights of this episode include Illya’s attempt to explain an Inertial Guidance System to a group of scientists (“…it guides, inertially…”) and his Robin Hood-like crossbow match with Voegler is a favorite moment: the targets start with letters in a sign and end with matchsticks and rings in mid-air.
Episode Twelve: “The Children‘s Day Affair” – Boys will be boys: Thrush is using a boys school to train it’s students as assassins in order to take out a meeting of U.N.C.L.E. officials. Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet) plays the headmaster of the school and Jeanne Cooper (The Young and the Restless) is his sadistic counterpart, Mother Fear. Beautiful voice actress Susan Silo plays an Italian Social Services councilor who loses a young lad to the school (and falls for Solo, naturally). B movie legend Eduardo Ciannelli (The Mysterious Dr. Satan, The Mummy’s Hand, Monster from Green Hell) guest stars as an U.N.C.L.E. representative.
Luigi’s Useless Information: I absolutely love the method Stevens and Cooper torture Solo: he’s forced to continuously switch tracks on a train set in order to prevent two model trains containing nerve gas from colliding (wherein the gas would be released). Bonus points for that concept.
Season Two, Disc Five:
Episode Thirteen: “The Adriatic Express Affair” – Our heroes have to stop Thrush from acquiring a virus that can prevent the human race from reproducing (insert GOP joke here). The virus gets onboard the nonstop Adriatic Express, where it winds up in the prima donna hands of Madame Nemirovitch (Jessie Royce Landis), who actually claims to be the founder of Thrush. A persistent go-go-dancer-looking lady continuously hounds Illya and Juliet Mills plays Solo’s femme du jour. Fans of the Marx Brothers will no doubt recognize Sig Ruman as the conductor.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Aside from being Groucho’s adversary several time over, Ruman was also seen in many WWII films (usually as a German officer, for reasons which should be obvious). He passed away a little over a year after this episode aired at the age of 82.
Episode Fourteen: “The Yukon Affair” – Squire G. Emory Partridge (George Sanders) returns as a thorn in U.N.C.L.E.’s side. Solo spots a partridge in a pear tree through an antique store window and is nearly killed by a chunk of quadrillenium X, the heaviest metal on Earth. The quadrillenium also carries a large electromagnetic charge, but has no affect on a geological analyzer in U.N.C.L.E. HQ, and the boys discover that the quadrillenium came from the Yukon. Unfortunately, Partridge’s wife does not make an appearance, but his lovely (and evil) niece Victoria (Marian Thompson) does. Tianne Gabrielle plays an Eskimo named Murphy who likes blond-haired men (go Illya!).
Luigi’s Useless Information: Even the most non-observant viewer may notice over time that most of the sets in U.N.C.L.E. were used time and time again without forming a complaint. The average audience member can easily tell when a soundstage is doubling for an external locale and not give a damn, but the downright awful ice and igloo sets in “The Yukon Affair” are barely even suited for an Irwin Allen series!
Episode Fifteen: “The Very Important Zombie Affair” – When casting a Hispanic/Latin character, it is very important to pick an actor that can speak with the proper accent. Someone that looks the part. Someone wholly other than, say, Charlton Heston in Touch of Evil. So who do we get for this episode of U.N.C.L.E.? Claude Akins, of course! El Supremo (Claude) is the big bad tyrannical leader of a Caribbean country guy whose name sounds like a taco truck’s daily special. He’s also big on voodoo and refuses to let his favorite manicurist (Linda Gaye Scott) leave the country. Maidie Norman plays a voodoo priestess named El, and Mexican actor Rodolfo Acosta guest stars as Capitán Ramirez.
Luigi’s Useless Information: When we first see El Supermo, he has a monkey on his back. Literally.
Season Two, Disc Six:
Episode Sixteen: “The Dippy Blonde Affair” – Thrush engineer Pendleton (Fabrizio Mioni – whatever happened to him?) is working on an ion projector. Jojo, the title character (Joyce Jameson), is a lady friend of Pendleton’s. When Solo is captured at their hideout, Pendleton gives Jojo an ultimatum: kill Solo or she dies herself. Fortunately, Illya saves the day and Jojo becomes U.N.C.L.E.’s link to Thrush (and a major pain in the ass as well).
Luigi’s Useless Information: James Frawley and Robert Strauss (and his wonderful voice made out of gravel) guest star as Thrush agents.
Episode Seventeen: “The Deadly Goddess Affair” – Looking sort of like an obese Steven Spielberg, the one and only Victor Buono plays Colonel Hubris a (surprise) Thrush agent awaiting a remote control plane containing ten million dollars in which to take control of Africa (or something to that effect). Napoleon and Mr. Kuryakin manage to detonate the plane over the Isle of Circe, but are quickly apprehended by the sole police officer on the island, Luca (Daniel J. Travanti), who is very anxious to get married to his beloved Mia (Brioni Farrell) and receive a long-overdue transfer. But before Luca and Mia can get married, they must first marry off her older sister, Angela (the beautiful Marya Stevens) – and the two visiting Americans whom Luca arrested look very prosperous. Natually, she chooses Solo – much to Illya’s delight – which causes even Solo to panic for once. Meanwhile, the girls’ father (Steven Geray) has found the ten million dollars and Hubris is steamin’ mad. Michael Strong and Joseph Sirola also star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: How odd. When Buono makes his appearance, he’s atop of a sofa, lying on his side with a hookah pipe next to him. Now, take that image and place it side by side with an image of Jabba the Hutt from Return of the Jedi and see if you note any similarities (yes, I made a fat guy joke, so there). Strangely enough, this would be the last onscreen appearance of Ms. Stevens (where’d you go, Marya?).
Episode Eighteen: “The Birds and Bees Affair” – A special blend of honey drives a genetically-engineered species of miniscule (almost invisible) killer bees to, well, kill. Thrush commander John McGiver (who always sort of reminded me of a mix between Stan Laurel and Alfred Hitchcock) plans to unleash the deadly bees at U.N.C.L.E. HQ. John Abbott plays the scientist who created the insects.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Illya gets lucky in this one with the lovely Anna Capri, causing Solo to become rightly jealous and annoyed.
Season Two, Disc Seven:
Episode Nineteen: “The Waverly Ring Affair” – After stealing some documents from a Thrush front (Illya decks a woman in the process), our heroes come to the ghastly conclusion that their arch nemesis has a mole working in U.N.C.L.E. HQ. With their entire operation in jeopardy, Waverly issues Napoleon a Priority Ring: which gives him control of damn-near everything, and can only be taken off by Mr. Waverly – unless Solo wants to be blown into a million bits!
Luigi’s Useless Information: Larry Blyden plays George Dennell, the poor U.N.C.L.E. agent whom all evidence points toward being the Thrush spy.
Episodes Twenty and Twenty-One: “The Bridge of Lions Affair: Parts 1 & 2” – Wow, everyone is in this two-parter: Vera Miles, Maurice Evans, James Doohan, Dolores Faith, James Hong, Cal Bolder, Bernard Fox, and disembodied head of Robby the Robot, too! The plot involves a machine that reverses the aging process and the race between U.N.C.L.E. and Thrush that ensues.
Luigi’s Useless Information: This two-parter was released theatrically as One of Our Spies is Missing.
Season Two, Disc Eight:
Episode Twenty-Two: “The Foreign Legion Affair” – While on his way home with some vital Thrush information, Illya (along with the beautiful Danielle De Metz) is tossed out of an airplane by Lucienne Bey (Michael Pate). The two of them wind up at an old Foreign Legion fortress run by Capt. Basil Calhoun (Howard De Silva), a poor schmuck who doesn’t know that his war is over (shades of Laurel & Hardy’s Blockheads there). Meanwhile, Napoleon seeks out Bey to find his MIA colleague. Rupert Crosse plays De Silva’s corporal. Once again, Illya gets the girl.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Danielle De Metz shall always stand out in my mind as Brett Halsey’s tortured fiancée in Return of the Fly (her film debut). She continued working in film and television until 1972, when she all-but-disappeared from the screen.
Episode Twenty-Three: “The Moonglow Affair” – When both Napoleon and Illya are taking ill from Thrush’s new machine that causes radiation sickness, Mr. Waverly teams the up-and-coming April Dancer (Mary Ann Mobley) with Mark Slate (Norman Fell), a veteran U.N.C.L.E. agent who is nearing that point in his career when he starts sitting at a desk (which becomes something of a running gag). The wonderful Kevin McCarthy plays the villain here.
Luigi’s Useless Information: This episode would serve as an introduction to the characters of Dancer and Slate, the stars of the show’s official spinoff: The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (available on DVD from the Warner Archive Collection) – which replaced Mary Ann Mobley and Norman Fell with Stephanie Powers and Noel Harrison, and also starred Leo G. Carroll as Mr. Waverly.
Episode Twenty-Four: “The Nowhere Affair” – Thrush agents crack down on him in a Nevada ghost town (named Nowhere), forcing Napoleon to take the new Capsule B which induces a state of amnesia for up to 72 hours. J. Pat O’Malley plays an old prospector, Lou Jacobi is a cybernetic scientist in the hands of Thrush.
Luigi’s Useless Information: At one point Thrush scientist Diana Hyland remarks that Solo’s file lists him as a swinger. When she asks her superior (the marvelous David Sheiner) what a swinger is, he remarks “A manic depressive who is never depressed.”
Season Two, Disc Nine:
Episode Twenty-Five: “The King of Diamonds Affair” – That tricky Ricardo Montalban is at it again! This time, he’s Rafael Delgado, a master diamond thief who manages to steal a billion dollars worth of stones while he’s in a London prison with the help of his uncouth Mafioso partners (they dress like Englishmen and carry umbrella-guns). From London, we head to Rio (although it all looks an awful lot like Southern California to me). Nancy Kovack figures into the whole mess as an business owner whose company is being used for smuggling (without her knowledge). Mr. Waverly gets the girl in the end this time, proving every dog does indeed have his day.
Luigi’s Useless Information: I don’t think I have ever heard so many bad British accents in one single television show. Ever. Oddly enough, the Italians are never referred to as such.
Episode Twenty-Six: “The Project Deephole Affair” – You know, anything with Barbara Bouchet in it is good in my book. In this episode, she plays Thrush agent Narcissus Darling (a name I later stole as my drag alias), a beauty that carries a big gun out to pick up a doctor that the U.N.C.L.E. boys are protecting. When hapless idiot Buzz Conway (Jack Weston) crawls out of the wrong window at the wrong time, he winds up in the hands of Thrush. German legend Leon Askin plays a Thrush commander who probably wants to send Solo to the Russian Front.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Barbara Bouchet is a “Deephole” I’d love to probe. And you can’t blame Robert Vaughn one little bit for grabbing her ass in their fight scene, either!
Episode Twenty-Seven: “The Round Table Affair” – Illya chases a criminal into the extremely small European country of Ingolstein, a nation with no extradition treaty whatsoever. This unique policy has come to the attention of the mafia, making it the most sought-after refuge for every fugitive in the world (from Roman Polanski to the entire Bush Administration). Stuart Nisbet, Valora Noland, Bruce Gordon (Frank Nitti in The Untouchables) and veteran Reginald Gardiner guest star. One character is named “Bullets Malone”!
Luigi’s Useless Information: The great Don Francks plays the mob boss posing as Ingolstein’s regent.
Season Two, Disc Ten:
Episode Twenty-Eight: “The Bat Cave Affair” – This episode aired on April Fool’s Day of 1966, less than three months after “Batman” premiered (hence the title – and joke). Illya battles Count Zark (Martin Landau), an eccentric Thrush agent operating out of Transylvania with huge, lumbering henchmen and a cave full of – yep, you guessed it – bats. Back in the States, Napoleon works with a young lady who may or may not be psychic (Joan Freeman). Whit Bissell also guest stars.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Interestingly, Martin Landau plays a Dracula-like character in this episode, nearly thirty years before he won an Academy Award for portraying Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. The campiness level of this episode would later get turned up to 11 for the Third Season.
Episode Twenty-Nine: “The Minus-X Affair” – Professor Lillian Stemmler (Eve Arden) is an undercover Thrush agent who has developed a formula called Plus-X, which magnifies all of the human senses tenfold. She has also created Minus-X, which turns people into complete morons (so they can run for office, no doubt). Theo Marcuse plays a Thrush boss. King Moody and Sharon Farrell co-star. Look for a young Paul Winfield as a military guard.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Marcuse’s right-hand man, Whitaker (King Moody) appeared as Ronald McDonald during the late ’60s and the ’70s. He also overacted to no end as the spaceship captain in Teenagers from Outer Space. He died in 2001.
Episode Thirty: “The Indian Affairs Affair” – Have you ever had one of those days? It starts out innocently enough, but then a wooden Indian statue starts following you around everywhere and guys on rooftops start firing flaming arrows at you and it all goes downhill from there! Thrush agent L.C. Carson (Joe Mantell) has abducted Chief Highcloud (Ted de Corsia) and started work on a hydrogen bomb on the Cardiac Reservation. Solo tracks down the chief’s daughter, Charisma (Victoria Vetri) dancing in a New York bar.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Don’t watch this one with your Native American buddies. That is all.
At some point, every good film and television series reaches that point of just not taking itself seriously, and that includes spy series that have already managed to pleasantly exist on the border on being just plain camp (watch one of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films if you need a good example). Sadly, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was not immune to this. Batman had such an enormous impact on the viewers at home, that the producers of U.N.C.L.E. – for whatever reason – feared the direction the Caped Crusader was taking television. And so, U.N.C.L.E. changed its pace. The theme music was changed to sound more Nelson Riddle-esque so that you might expect to see Adam West carrying running around the docks with a big fake bomb, and sounded like someone should be saying “Tequila!” every other measure. A great deal of care that was previously present on the production end decreased, giving way to visibile studio lights within frame in one episode (“The Galatea Affair”), and the writing really started on the downward spiral.
Season Three, Disc One:
Episode One: “The Her Master‘s Voice Affair” – The enemy has infiltrated a Long Island school for the teenage daughters of prominent individuals via hypnosis (in the form of Brahm’s Lullaby). Illya is assigned the task of guarding the young daughter of a Japanese scientist (Victoria Young) whom develops a crush on him (they watch an episode of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. together!). Napoleon gets to go undercover at the school and finds himself surrounded by young ladies. What I wouldn’t give for either job. Marianna Osborne plays Solo’s (main) love interest. Estelle Winwood and Joseph Ruskin are the villains.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Illya nearly spanks Victoria in one scene, which I question was even acceptable back then.
Episode Two: “The Sort of Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair” – After a lengthy pre-credit sequence involving tediously-repetitive music and an actress holding her arms out like someone pretending to sleepwalk (Solo almost shoots himself, along with the audience), we learn that somebody has developed the perfect killing machine: fembots. Illya is assigned to act as a bank manager, and wouldn’t you know it, a Thrush front is seeking a billion-dollar loan! Fritz Feld, Jeannine Riley, Pamela Curran, Barry Atwater, and Woodrow Parfrey.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Science fiction writer (and occasional troublemaker) Harlan Ellison penned this particular episode. Ellison also wrote the two Outer Limits episodes that would inspire The Terminator (“Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier”), and also wrote one of the most memorable time-travelling episodes of Star Trek, “The City on the Edge of Foverer.”
Episode Three: “The Galatea Affair” – Solo winds up in a hospital after a gondola accident (don’t ask), so Mark Slate (Noel Harrison) steps in for the remainder of this adventure (as to how Mark grew younger and became British is not explained). Joan Collins goes for the “Prince and the Pauper” routine as an evil Baroness (and husband to Carl Esmond as the evil Baron) and a Bronx stripper. Michael St. Clair, Paul Smith, and Richard Angarola also guest star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: While Noel Harrison slipped over to The Man series for this episode, Robert Vaughn guest-starred as Napoleon Solo on The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Both episodes aired within three days of each other.
Season Three, Disc Two:
Episode Four: “The Super-Colossal Affair” – The mob has been losing a lot of money since Las Vegas went legit, so Uncle Giuliano (J. Carrol Naish, a personal fave) assigns his less-than-bright nephew Frank (Bernard Fein) to think of a solution. When Frank learns that Hollywood director Sheldon Veblen (the one and only Shelley Berman) is losing his backing on a modernized epic of Sodom & Gomorrah, Frank fronts the money to finish, using his girlfriend Ginger LaVeer (Carol Wayne) as his excuse.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The climax of this wacky chapter in the U.N.C.L.E. saga has Illya riding a gigantic stink bomb out of a plane (a la Slim Pickens). See, I told you Season Three was kinda wacky.
Episode Five: “The Monks of St. Thomas Affair” – A new ray gun has been stolen by Thrush and mounted in the St. Thomas Monastery in Switzerland under the command of David J. Stewart (who died shortly after this episode aired). Their first target: The Louvre in Paris. Cult fave Celeste Yarnell plays the hot chick and John Wengraf plays her uncle, the imprisoned Abbot of the monastery.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The great Henry Calvin (Sgt. Garcia in the ’50s TV hit Zorro) plays the lovable Brother Peter.
Episode Six: “The Pop Art Affair” – U.N.C.L.E. learns from a beatnik that Thrush agents are developing a gas capable of making humanity hiccup itself to death (Robert H. Harris plays the bad guy). A highlight of the episode features Illya improvising a beatnik poem about King Kong in a coffee shop whilst battling a group of thugs (some of whom carry razor sharp skateboards as weapons). The Wolf Man (1941) director George Waggner lends his unique brand of camp to this one (he would direct several episodes of Batman as well). Sherry Alberoni and Sabrina Scharf guest star as the ladies, and Charles Lane makes an appearance, too.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Mr. Waverly assigns Illya to pose as a beatnik due to his “long hair”. When the original pilot was shown to studio executives, they asked that the “long haired” guy (David McCallum) be replaced, but the producers thought they meant actor Will Kuluva (who played Mr. Allison, the head of U.N.C.L.E), so Kuluva was let go and Leo G. Carroll was brought in. The “long haired” McCallum stayed. In the end, I think that little error served humanity quite well.
Season Three, Disc Three:
Episode Seven: “The Thor Affair” – Bernard Fox returns as an entirely different (although familiar) villain, Brutus Thor – determined to assassinate a Gandhi-like president (Harry Davis) who is trying to rid the world of those pesky nuclear bombs. Linda Foster plays a woman who intercepts radio transmissions via her tooth when she drinks rum (!) and Arthur Batanides plays Fox’s henchman. One particularly eerie scene features Illya being attacked by a roomful of dolls (with guns).
Luigi’s Useless Information: British bit player Anthony Eustrel played many butlers in his career (with an appearance on Batman at roughly the same time). Here, the credits list him as “Rhett – Butler”.
Episode Eight: “The Candidate’s Wife Affair” – Miranda Bryant (Diana Hyland), the wife of a Presidential Candidate (Richard Anderson) is kidnapped right from under Solo’s nose and promptly replaced with a double. The doppelganger, Irina (also Hyland) has been programmed with every shred of information on the Bryants, and has no idea that she isn’t who she thinks she actually is now! Than Wyenn (the other Peter Falk) plays the villainous scientist who made the switch, and who constantly has a glass of champagne in his hand. Larry D. Mann and Anna-Lisa co-star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: At the end of this Manchurian Candidate-like episode, we learn that Miranda’s lookalike is really a Judo teacher.
Episode Nine: “The Come with Me to the Casbah Affair” – The lovely Danielle De Metz makes another appearance in U.N.C.L.E. as Janine, a bistro owner in Algiers whose wannabe boyfriend, Pierrot La Mouche (Pat Harrington, Jr.) has stolen a codebook from local Thrush agent Colonel Hamid (Jacques Aubuchon) and is trying to sell it to U.N.C.L.E. Wolfe Barzell (the evil gardener/assistant of Dr. Frank in Frankenstein’s Daughter) plays a ‘blind’ beggar and Abbe Lane (who reminds me of Pat Barrington in Orgy of the Dead) plays a dancer. Hmmm. Pat Harrington, Pat Barrington… Ah, it’s finally making sense! Sadly, no one rocks the Casbah here, but Milton Parsons and Camille Grant have some bit parts.
Luigi’s Useless Information: I can’t help but wonder if Colonel Hamid was originally supposed to have been Colonel Hubris (Episode 2.17). It’s interesting to note that the last name of Harrington’s character is La Mouche (French for ‘the fly’) and that his love interest is Danielle De Metz (see the “Useless Information” on her for Episode 2.22 to complete that joke). Harrington himself will perhaps always be known as Schneider from One Day at a Time. He also voiced the Inspector Clouseau-ish character in many of the DePatie-Freleng animated shorts of the ’60s and ’70s.
Season Three, Disc Four:
Episode Ten: “The Off-Broadway Affair” – Thrush has somehow tapped into U.N.C.L.E.’s new computer (what, there were hackers in the ’60s?), and a young stage starlet is murdered when she finds out too much. Leon Askin returns as Thrush agent David X. Machina (get it?), who purchases every ticket for an Off-Broadway flop and brings in his own new star (Joan Huntington) so he can keep stealing vital information from his secret subterranean lair. Dick Crockett is in here, too.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Shari Lewis guest stars as the leading-lady’s understudy. It’s impossible to fathom that this once smokin’ hot woman would later gain fame for slapping on a hand puppet and striking fear into the hearts of children everywhere, much like her co-star in this episode, Police Woman‘s Charles Dierkop, would later do as the killer Santa in 1984 cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night).
Episodes Eleven and Twelve: “The Concrete Overcoat Affair, Parts 1 & 2” – Although it is very campy, this is an enjoyable two-parter, mainly due to its ensemble. While spying on the seemingly gynophobic wine tycoon Louis Sprago (Jack Palance), our heroes discover that Sprago and Thrush have conspired with an aging Nazi scientist (Ludwig Donath) to create a new home: Thrushland. But, in order to make that a reality, they must first place a number of nuclear missiles throughout the gulf stream, thereby sending the warmer winds to Greenland (which would then become Thrushland). As neat as this sounds, however, it will turn the rest of the Northern Hemisphere into a polar wasteland. To make matters worse, a group of old-school prohibition-era Chicago gangsters are looking for Solo, intent on forcing him to marry their young niece (Letícia Román) whom they believe he slept with (oddly enough, he kept it in his pants for once). Psycho‘s Janet Leigh shines as Palance’s sadomasochistic assistant who really enjoys her work.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Not only is there a lot going on in these two episodes, but the list of guest stars tops all the action combined: Eduardo Ciannelli, Allen Jenkins, Jack La Rue, Penny Santon, Maxie Rosenbloom, Vince Barnett, Joan Blondell, Elisha Cook Jr., and even Will Kuluva (the original head of U.N.C.L.E.) in a funny bit of casting as the thrilled Thrush superior who has a final confrontation with Illya (see the “Useless Information” for Episode 3.6).
Season Three, Disc Five:
Episode Thirteen: “The Abominable Snowman Affair” – While on assignment in Ghupat, Illya dons a bad-looking yeti costume and is promptly wounded by Calamity Rogers (Ann Jeffreys), a former western movie star that now hunts the dreaded beast that killed her husband (bad timing, Illya). David Sheiner makes his final U.N.C.L.E. appearance as the Ghupat Prime Minister (with eye pieces to make him look Asian) that plans to place his own son on the High Lama’s throne. Pilar Seurat, Philip Ahn, Fuji, and “Number Two Son” Victor Sen Yung co-star. Camera equipment is visible several times throughout this episode.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Anne Jeffreys co-starred with Leo G. Carroll in the television series Topper.
Episode Fourteen: “The My Friend the Gorilla Affair” – If Lionel Stander were to review this episode, he would probably point out that this episode officially breaks the Goofy Meter. Illya is captured trying to find a deranged professor (Arthur Malet, resembling a demented cross between Mark Twain and William Hickey, as brought to life by Dave Thomas on SCTV) who is turning natives into supermen (against their will, naturally) in a surprisingly jungle-esque Africa. Solo picks up on his trail and meets a jungle girl named Girl (Vitina Marcus) along the way (she has a pet gorilla named Baby – who is played by none other than George Barrows of Robot Monster fame!). The great Alan Mowbray makes one of his final appearances as a safari hunter. Joyce Jillson, Percy Rodriguez (who also voiced many movie trailers, including Jaws), and blaxploitation icon Raymond St. Jacques guest star in this ridiculous and oft-offensive chapter in the U.N.C.L.E. series. Note: This episode includes an optional (audio) Station Break with June Foray.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Alan Mowbray was one of the original founders of the Screen Actors Guild. He also played the baffled butler in the first two Topper movies, which would be remade as a television series with Leo G. Carroll.
Episode Fifteen: “The Jingle Bells Affair” – I have to give writer William Fay credit with his opening, in which Georgi Koz (Akim Tamiroff), the visiting Chairman of a Russian-like country, and his Chief of Security Maxim Radish (the very Jonathan Pryce-looking Leon Belasco), refer to the Christmas shopping season as the time of year when the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. Apart from the wonderful anti-Christmas commercialism message (of which I heartily approve), there’s a bit of a plot to assassinate Koz. Humphrey Bogart’s old drinking buddy Leonid Kinskey plays the would-be assassin. Co-starring Elen Willard, Kent Smith, and J. Pat O’Malley (as a drunk Irishman, naturally).
Luigi’s Useless Information: Any resemblance between the fictitious Georgi Koz and the real-life Nikita Khrushchev is purely coincidental, but it’s nice to see actual Russian-born actors playing Russians in a television show broadcast during the Cold War (even if the characters are never actually referred to as Russians).
Season Three, Disc Six:
Episode Sixteen: “The Take Me to Your Leader Affair” – Seasoned television vet Woodrow Parfrey makes his fifth and final U.N.C.L.E. appearance as Dr. Adrian Cool, who informs his old friend Mr. Waverly about a mysterious object in outer space that is on a collision course with the Earth. Upon arriving on Cool’s island, Illya is kidnapped along with Cool’s bikini-clad daughter Coco (’60s singer Nancy Sinatra). Industrialist Simon Sparrow (Paul Lambert) is behind it all (note how Sparrow Dynamics looks suspiciously like the NBC studio lot). Whitney Blake plays Sparrow’s fiancée, and James Griffith (The Amazing Transparent Man) guest stars as Sparrow’s assistant, Dr. Trebush. Look for Kam Tong (again) as an Asian Ambassador.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Illya starts to play the guitar while imprisoned with Coco. Yes, they sing together. David McCallum also had something of a vocal vocation and had hit #117 on the Billboard Singles Charts earlier that same year with “Communication”. He also has a shoe that turns into a mini jackhammer here (!), while Solo gets to drive a very groovy looking little automobile (the lucky bastard).
Episode Seventeen: “The Suburbia Affair” – Solo and Illya masquerade as swinging bachelors (yeah, I know, big stretch, eh?) and move into suburbia, hoping to find a missing Danish scientist named Rutter. A local music teacher named Willoughby (Victor Borge) fits the description. Upon settling in, they are bombed by King Moody (as an evil milkman) working for Mrs. Witherspoon (Reta Shaw), and assaulted by their seemingly-friendly neighbor (Beth Brickell) when Solo turns the lights on. As it turns out, Mrs. Witherspoon and the local pharmacist (Herbert Anderson) are driving the residents of suburbia crazy with scientifically-altered light bulbs in an attempt to flush Rutter/Willoughby out because of his Humboldt’s Syndrome. Look, don’t ask. Just watch.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Highlights include an ice-cream truck chase scene (which, if you’ve ever seen the “Speed 3” episode of Father Ted, will probably be even funnier), and the roommate sitcom-like bickering between our main characters over a soufflé.
Episode Eighteen: “The Deadly Smorgasbord Affair” – Both U.N.C.L.E. and Thrush are after a suspended animation device, the invention of Dr. A.C. Nillson (Peter Brocco, who played Krog in Republic’s Serial Radar Men from the Moon). Nillson’s daughter Neila (Lynn Loring) and two Thrush agents (Robert Emhardt and Pamela Curran) become involved in this (sadly) Illya-less episode.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Look for German-born character actor Martin Kosleck (The Flesh Eaters, Agent for H.A.R.M.) in one of his rare good guy roles as an U.N.C.L.E. scientist.
Season Three, Disc Seven:
Episode Nineteen: “The Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum Affair” – Illya jumps on-board a freighter heading for an unknown destination containing a top-secret tidal wave machine that is part of a grand blackmail scheme. Thrush is behind it all (naturally). Dan O’Herlihy plays the rum-swigging, poetry-loving captain of the ship. Character actors Kevin Hagen, Eddie Quillan, and Robert DoQui guest star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: O’Herlihy hams it up big time here as he staggers about the boat in a drunken stupor, mumbling incoherently with a soft-spoken English accent.
Episode Twenty: “The Napoleon‘s Tomb Affair” – Good ol’ Joseph Sirola chews up the scenery once again as Malanez, the First Aide of President Tunick (Kurt Kasznar), who is dead-set on replacing his friend and commander while they’re visiting Paris. Ted Cassidy plays Malanez’ henchman and Mercédès Molinar also co-stars. Illya gets to drive the fancy car (an AMT Piranha) this time.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The great Fritz Feld plays the man hired by Sirola to heckle the President – and gets to play a whopping four different parts in the process.
Episode Twenty-One: “The It‘s All Greek to Me Affair” – Manolakas, an escaped Greek convict (George Keymas) knocks Illya unconscious and steals some top secret U.N.C.L.E. papers with the intent on selling them to Thrush agent Emile Sauvignon (Jacques Roux). Manolakas’ wife Kyra (Linda Marsh) is less than thrilled to learn her husband is free and her bandit father Stavros (Harold J. Stone) is determined to kill the bad apple. Unfortunately, he kidnaps Illya instead.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The mistaken identity gag is used a total of three times in this episode. Talk about originality.
Season Three, Disc Eight:
Episode Twenty-Two: “The Hula Doll Affair” – U.N.C.L.E. has developed a new M4 explosive that packs quite a wallop and detonates at only 90° Fahrenheit. Peter and Simon Sweet, a pair of brothers working for Thrush (Pat Harrington, Jr. and Jan Murray), steal the explosive (which is hidden in an ordinary-looking hula doll), kidnap Solo (along with a naïve secretary played by Grace Gaynor), and put U.N.C.L.E. into a state of panic. Patsy Kelly plays Mama Sweet and Edy Williams (former wife of Russ Meyer) plays the busty U.N.C.L.E. technician. Look fast (and low) for cult figure Angelo Rossitto.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The character of Oregano (Sweet’s assistant) is played by Rex Holman who – six years earlier, under the alias Roye Baker – co-starred along with the great Arch Hall, Jr. in The Choppers.
Episode Twenty-Three: “The Pieces of Fate Affair” – Another Harlan Ellison story is brought to life. Bestselling author Jacqueline Midcult (Sharon Farrell) has come under close scrutiny from both U.N.C.L.E and Thrush alike – her novel, “Pieces of Fate” depicts many situations and adventures that bear too close a resemblance to actual cases for it not to be a coincidence and Mr. Waverly is convinced she has access to secret Thrush data. After a Thrush agent opens fire on her during a television broadcast, she is left with a case of temporary amnesia and the men from U.N.C.L.E. have to help her find her memory so she can help them find the source material. Yep, that has Harlan Ellison written all over it. Theodore Marcuse, Grayson Hall, Richard Collier, and Charles Seel guest star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The Stationmaster is played by none other than cult TV/stage/radio comic Doodles Weaver, brother of former NBC executive Pat Weaver, and the uncle of actress Sigourney Weaver. He committed suicide in 1983.
Episode Twenty-Four: “The Matterhorn Affair” – An informant is killed in Singapore and the film he was selling to U.N.C.L.E. is stolen by a guy named Beirut (Vito Scotti), who works for an art dealer named Backstreet (Oscar Beregi). The dying man reveals that the other half of the film is in the possession of Martin Klump (Bill Dana), a blithering idiot who lives with his sister Heather (Norma Crane). It isn’t long before the Backstreet Boys (sorry) and U.N.C.L.E. are at war with one another trying to get to Klump (who knows nothing, naturally).
Luigi’s Useless Information: Klump’s boss in this episode, Kenneth Quartz, is played by veteran character actor Hal Smith. In addition to bit parts and extensive voiceover work for television, Smith is perhaps best known as Otis on The Andy Griffith Show. He is also credited as the co-writer of It Came from Beneath the Sea.
Season Three, Disc Nine:
Episode Twenty-Five: “The Hot Number Affair” – Just when you think it can’t get any worse, enter Sonny & Cher. Not wanting to risk the paperwork falling into the wrong hands, Thrush had their Five Year Report turned into a dress design (?). Unfortunately, more than one copy of the exclusive dress was made and everyone – both public and private – is after it. Sonny Bono plays the dressmaker who has the hots for a fashion model (Cher). In a grand example of life imitating art, Cher’s character is a total bitch to Sonny’s. If their on-screen presence alone isn’t enough to make you cringe, their songs underline several scenes.
Luigi’s Useless Information: This episode is very irritating (but nowhere near as bad as “The My Friend The Gorilla Affair”): the incidental kazoo music mocks the viewer, while the supporting roles provided by George Tobias and Ned Glass grate on one’s nerves. The annoying operator that Illya deals with (twice) is played Jane A. Johnston. Johnston was married to George Wallace (Commando Cody from Radar Men from the Moon) until his death in 2005. (Yes, I do relate people by their correlation to actors from cliffhanger serials.)
Episode Twenty-Six: “The When in Roma Affair” – Pursued by Thrush, Solo is forced to slip an important thingy (hidden in a perfume atomizer) onto a tourist in Italy. The tourist, Darlene Sims (Julie Sommars) soon becomes the most sought-after lady in the land. Cesare Danova and Than Wyenn (again) play the villains and Kathleen Freeman guest stars as Darlene’s traveling companion. Sid Haig plays a henchman.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Sharyn Hillyer, the actress who plays U.N.C.L.E. technician Wanda, played the same role in at least ten episodes of the series. Despite her beauty, Sharyn’s career didn’t last very long after the show was canceled.
Episode Twenty-Seven: “The Apple a Day Affair” – Holy explosive apples, Napoleon! No, that’s not a metaphor (or a typo): it’s the plot. Colonel Picks (Robert Emhardt), owner of the Purple Valley apple orchard, has developed an explosive fruit for Thrush. Solo and Illya head South into “hillbilly country” (as Mr. Waverly delicately puts it) to put a stop to it. Hee-Haw regular Jeannine Riley (as a slutty Southern belle), Gil Lamb (as Jeannine’s grand-pappy), Dub Taylor (as a preacher), Norman Leavitt, and blaxploitation legend D’Urville Martin (whom Illya shares a Tony Curtis/Sidney Poitier moment with straight out of The Defiant Ones) co-star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Curiously enough, nobody ever says “How do you like them apples?” in the entire episode. Quality control!
Season Three, Disc Ten:
Episodes Twenty-Eight and Twenty-Nine: “The Five Daughters Affair, Parts 1 & 2” – While it isn’t the best two-parter in the world, “The Five Daughters Affair” does benefit from a superb supporting cast and more action (even if it is silly). After a positively You Only Live Twice-like opening (again with the nifty little Piranha car!), our agents rush to meet Dr. True (Jim Boles, who appeared in the series as a different doctor a total of three times): a scientist has developed a new desalinization process which somehow turns seawater into gold (I’ll take one of those, please). When Dr. True drops dead of a heart-attack (in real life, Boles did die of a cardiac arrest – ten years later), Thrush affiliate Randolph (the oh-so-magnificent Herbert Lom) kills the good doctor’s wife (Joan Crawford) and begins the search for the new desalinization formula. A zany race across the globe to gather clues from Dr. True’s four stepdaughters follows (all of whom are played by former U.N.C.L.E. girls: Jill Ireland, Diane McBain, and Danielle De Metz). Kim Darby, Curt Jürgens, Telly Savalas, and Terry-Thomas also guest star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The theatrical title for the re-edited two-parter was The Karate Killers, a reference to Herbert Lom’s four henchmen: all of whom are white and tend to dress like casino bartenders.
Episode Thirty: “The Cap and Gown Affair” – Thrush is planning on assassinating Mr. Waverly during a visit to Blair University (his old alma mater) and try to get a bunch of those damn hippie protestors to do it. When Solo and Illya thwart that plan, Thrush has to resort to replacing the Dean (Henry Jones) with a double (also Jones). Martin Kosleck (again), Larry D. Mann, and Zalman King co-star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: A very uninteresting finale to a disappointing season. Thankfully, Season Four (what there was of it) made up for it for the show’s remaining fans.
As you can imagine, Season Three failed to capture the Batman audience, and instead, managed to alienate faithful U.N.C.L.E. viewers. The brains behind this altogether lousy decision undoubtedly found themselves smacking their collective hand against their large, inflated collective head. The solution to finding that which you lost? Retrace your steps. In this case, the producers eliminated the overly-campy feel and started back for the slightly-campy-but-still-plausible style that both Seasons One and Two are still praised for, while reaching a new height of seriousness all to its own. Sadly, it was a shining example of “too little, too late”, and the fourth and final season of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. enjoyed a brief run before the series was canceled altogether.
Season Four, Disc One:
Episode One: “The Summit-Five Affair” – With the Summit-Five meeting a few days away. Napoleon visits U.N.C.L.E. HQ in Berlin to check out the security set-up. However, when the Chief of Security (Don Chastain) turns up dead after rushing out to transmit a message to Mr. Waverly, Solo finds himself one of three suspects (along with Lloyd Bochner and Susanne Cramer) and is later subjected to some grueling interrogation. Albert Dekker (Dr. Cyclops) turns in one of his final (and finest) performances as the eccentric U.N.C.L.E. Northeast Chief Harry Beldon. He’s rather reminiscent of Dr. Gregory House, too: he pulls up with two women and a bottle of champagne, has a steam room in his office and wears a lavish fur coat with no pants (and all of my ex-employers called me uncouth!).
Luigi’s Useless Information: Aside from the wonderful acting and some rather artful cinematography, Season Four also introduces us to Mr. Waverly’s new high tech (for 1967, that is) office, and his new assistant, Miss Rogers: whom I find somewhat irritating in a know-it-all-Roger-Moore-era-007 kind of way. Miss Rogers is played by Barbara Moore, who was also in Deadwood ‘76 with Arch Hall, Jr.
Episode Two: “The Test Tube Killer Affair” – Dr. Stoller (Paul Lukas), a scientist running a fencing school front in Guadalajara, has created a new breed of supermen (how he has accomplished such is never revealed). Thrush is interested in his new playmates and have requested that his best and brightest pupil, Greg Martin (Christopher Jones) destroy a village in Greece to prove his might. Lynn Loring, Milton Parsons, D’Urville Martin, and Martin Kosleck (yes, again) guest star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Christopher Jones was envisioned as the next James Dean (or so producers had hoped). Sadly, the late ’60s drug scene, a failed marriage, and the death of friends Sharon Tate and Jim Morrison left poor Mr. Jones emotionally unfit to carry on an acting career.
Episode Three: “The ‘J’ For Judas Affair” – Thrush is determined to assassinate industrialist Mark Tenza (Broderick Crawford) and his son Adam (Chad Everett) and our boys are assigned to protect them. Unfortunately, the elder Tenza is unwilling to co-operate. When a barely decipherable recording from a deceased man alerts Illya to a figure known only as “J”, it seems that only Adam knows the answer – but he won’t talk, either.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Kevin Hagen plays a hardened (and believable) security agent and John Hoyt plays an U.N.C.L.E. specialist.
Season Four, Disc Two:
Episodes Four and Five: “The Prince of Darkness Affair, Parts 1 & 2” – No, it isn’t Satan as the protagonist in this two-parter: it’s Bradford Dillman! Yes, the Dill-man is on point here as Luther Sebastian: a master criminal who is wanted in 22 countries. When U.N.C.L.E. learns that evil scientist Dr. Kharmusi (John Denher) has created a “Thermal Prism” capable of generated intense heat beams (or a “laser” if you will), they recruit Sebastian to help them steal the prism with the promise of total amnesty. Things get a little complicated with the arrival of Annie (Carol Lynley) and Askoy siblings (all played by H.M. Wynant) who are determined to get Annie’s fiancé and the fourth Askoy brother out of a Turkish prison (Billy Hayes, is that you?). Things grow even more complicated when Sebastian pulls a 180 and suddenly intends to dominate the world with the prism as per the cult he belongs to.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The members of Sebastian’s cult wait for the Old Man to speak (for the first time in decades) – thus signifying their place in the world. The Old Man is played by none other than John Carradine! Sid Haig makes a quick appearance in the first half as one of Denher’s henchmen.
Episode Six: “The Master’s Touch Affair” – The incomparable Jack Lord guest stars in this one. Jack (complete with ascot and accent) plays a former Thrush agent that occasionally provides U.N.C.L.E. with information (it’s really all a double play on his part) that is being hunted down by his former associate Valandros (Nehemiah Persoff). Illya gets brainwashed in this one. Leslie Parrish, Richard Angarola, and Paul Kent co-star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: I particularly enjoyed one scene involving some pyrotechnics: Solo shoots an explosive on the ground and a rock flies into the air, barely missing the camera (and probably hitting someone that was standing behind it).
Season Four, Disc Three:
Episode Seven: “The Thrush Roulette Affair” – Barnaby Partridge, a minor Thrush affiliate determined to reach the top, runs the hard-to-pronounce Club Thanatopsis, a casino in the Caribbean with a private gambling room in back where high-ranking government and private officials alike get to (literally) play for their very lives. Charles Drake, Nobu McCarthy, Robert Ellenstein, and Karen Carlson co-star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Illya gets brainwashed in this episode, too. Guess it was the thing to do back then.
Episode Eight: “The Deadly Quest Affair” – Karmak, an old adversary (played with gusto by the venerable Darren McGavin) has a bone to pick with Solo and Kuryakin. He arranges the kidnapping of Kuryakin from his hospital bed and holds him prisoner in a gas chamber, arranging for Solo to track him down in a condemned 10-block area of Manhattan so that Karmak the Magnificent can play “The Most Dangerous Game” (complete with a big bad cat as a pet). Marlyn Mason co-stars as Solo’s accidental Fay Wray. A recommended episode.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Stefan, Karmak’s assistant, is played by cult fave Timothy Carey, a man who made a career out of portraying sociopaths and henchmen. Of his many parts, two of his most famous roles will always be The World’s Greatest Sinner (which he also wrote, produced and directed), and his portrayal of Ulysses in Bayou (1957), a box office flop. Several years after its failure at the theater, producer Michael A. Ripps added newly-shot footage, re-edited, and subsequently re-released the film as Poor White Trash (1961), which would go on to make a bloody fortune on the drive-in circuit, and is sometimes referred to (by some) as the dawning of the grindhouse era.
Episode Nine: “The Fiery Angel Affair” – Illya arrives in the South American country of Querido to come to the aide of Angela Abaca (Madlyn Rhue), an Evita-based character whose life is in danger by The Secret Three, a band of revolutionaries backed by Thrush. Illya abducts Angela and whisks her off to Switzerland while Solo attempts to find the leaders behind The Secret Three. Joseph Sirola plays Angela’s husband, El Presidente Abaca.
Luigi’s Useless Information: When Illya foils an assassination attempt at the beginning, he is made a national hero and later mobbed by a group of young Latinas (the lucky bastard). In real life, this would happen to both McCallum and Vaughn regularly when they went on tour.
Season Four, Disc Four:
Episode Ten: “The Survival School Affair” – Illya is assigned to track down a missing code book at an U.N.C.L.E. Survival School (which is located on an uncharted island). The commander of the camp (and Kuryakin’s former teacher), Mr. Cutter (Charles McGraw) presents Illya with three prime suspects: John Saimes (Chris Robinson), Melissa Hargrove (Susan Odin) and Andrew Hague (Ray Girardin) – one of whom is a double agent for Thrush and if they’re permitted to graduate with their fellow pupils, it could mean the end for U.N.C.L.E.! Richard Beymer co-stars.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Out of the 105 U.N.C.L.E. episodes produced, this is the only one that does not feature Robert Vaughn (but his character is nice enough to send his best to Illya and his seemingly impossible task via Mr. Waverly).
Episode Eleven: “The Gurnius Affair” – One of the many nice things about the old days of television was that good character actors would be brought back time and time again to play different parts (whereas today, it rarely happens). Will Kuluva is one such example: for his last U.N.C.L.E. appearance, Kuluva plays Dr. Hans Von Etske, an aging Nazi scientist who breaks out of prison with the help of a mind control ray gun provided by Marshal Gurnius (George Macready) and the deadly Colonel Nexor. Their ultimate goal is to control the President of the United States. When Nexor is killed, Kuryakin assumes his identity (which is convenient considering both parts are played by the same actor) and meets up with the gang in South America. Meanwhile, Solo has his hands full with an unwanted tagalong photographer (Judy Carne, lookin’ darn good in that tiger-print outfit). Joseph Ruskin plays a Thrush agent.
Luigi’s Useless Information: Note the “N” insignias the neo-Nazis use. I imagine they were created as an alternative to the swastika so that the viewers wouldn’t be offended (or to keep things still relatively fictitious).
Episode Twelve: “The Man From Thrush Affair” – Two U.N.C.L.E. agents are slain after obtaining some top-secret information. With Illya away (no explanation is given), Andreas Petros (Robert Wolders) steps in to assist Solo and the pair are sent to Greek island Irbos, where criminal scientist Dr. Killman (John Larch) has taken over. Thrush Central is not very pleased with Killman’s apparent lack of progress on his Earthquake Machine and have sent an efficiency expert to the island (yes, even Thrush suffers from the petty squabbling of micro-management) to see to it that the destructive device is completed on schedule. When the Thrush expert is killed in an accident, Solo takes his place and is able to infiltrate the camp. The lovely Barbara Luna (in several flashy outfits) co-stars.
Luigi’s Useless Information: The Piranha vehicle gets a lot of use in the Fourth Season. Strangely enough, the only time we see any of its nifty James Bondian accessories in use is the one time that neither Napoleon nor Illya are in it!
Season Four, Disc Five:
Episode Thirteen: “The Maze Affair” – After a less than triumphant attempt to blow up U.N.C.L.E. HQ in New York, two Thrush agents (Lawrence Montaigne and Barry Cahill) opt for Plan B and steal the prototype for the new molecutronic gun from its creator, Dr. Febray (William Marshall, back for another bite). Somehow, even out in the middle of nowhere, Solo still manages to find a woman to woo (Ahna Capri).
Luigi’s Useless Information: Make sure to look for the crewman’s hand that manages to make its way onscreen near the climax of the episode!
Episode Fourteen: “The Deep Six Affair” – Mr. Waverly tries to persuade Europe’s top U.N.C.L.E. agent Brian Morton (Peter Bromilow) to call off his upcoming wedding to Laura Adams (Diana van der Vlis) because he can’t stand to lose him. Meanwhile, Thrush Commander Krohler (Alfred Ryder) is determined to get his hands on the plans for a top secret nuclear submarine and takes Laura hostage in order to blackmail Morton to assist him.
Luigi’s Useless Information: In the beginning Commander Krohler refers to Solo as U.N.C.L.E.’s top agent in America – which inflates Solo’s ego even more (and irks the good Mr. Kuryakin). Look for Dale Ishimoto (famous for portraying the older gent in the Nissan television commercials in the late ’90s) as Mr. Yu early in the episode whom Illya questionably impersonates.
Season Four, Disc Six:
Episode Fifteen and Sixteen: “The Seven Wonders of the World Affair, Parts 1 & 2” – The final (two-part) chapter of the U.N.C.L.E. series begins with agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin searching for missing official Dr. Robert Kingsley (Barry Sullivan), who has gone AWOL in order to use a special gas that will conclude the never-ending battle between good and evil (with good being the victor, of course). Unfortunately, Kingsley doesn’t know that his own wife (Eleanor Parker) is working for Thrush, and is secretly financing his operation. Peter Mark Richmond (who starred as Adam Chance in the James Bond/U.N.C.L.E. rip-off Agent For H.A.R.M. two years earlier) plays the main Thrush villain and good ol’ Leslie Nielsen co-stars as General Harmon. Tony Bill, Albert Paulsen, Inger Stratton, and Dan O’Herlihy also guest star.
Luigi’s Useless Information: A majority of this somewhat bland series finale (particularly the end) was filmed at Los Angeles International Airport (Sullivan’s base of operations is shown as being the Theme Building (which was only seven years old at the time). Enjoy the wonderfully weird scene where Sullivan scolds Leslie Nielsen in which he says “There will be no more discussions, general, no more shooting, no more drumhead courts-martials (sic), no more killing. I hope I make that clear.” – the amusing part about it is that his lips match very little with what he’s saying and the dubbing is choppy at best. I guess somebody higher up objected to something that was originally said!
Alas, all good things must come to an end. Halfway through its fourth season, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. met an untimely demise. Fifteen years later, a decent made-for-TV reunion movie – The Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair (available on DVD from CBS/Paramount) – brought Robert Vaughn and David McCallum together again (with Patrick Macnee filling in for the late Leo G. Carroll as the head of U.N.C.L.E.). Sadly, most of the TV movie had their characters paired up on separate missions with newer agents.
The folks at Warner Home Video must have gone through a few pots of coffee working on this set: the picture quality is wonderful! The title sequences and stock footage are a bit less-than-perfect (as is to be expected), showing minor amounts of grain and fuzz (which is more noticeable on the color episodes). The sound (English Mono 2.0) is very sufficient, but to be honest, I’m rather surprised they didn’t whip up a Surround Sound track. The only real “whoops” moment I noticed was in Episode 2.8 in which the sound was about a half-second off for a few minutes (a number of other episodes suffer from the occasional negative blemishes). For those of you that are a bit on the hearing-impaired side, there are English Subtitles (SDH).
Forget coffee, the folks at Warner Home Video must have been doing speed when they were working on this set: it is loaded! Apart from some fact-filled liner notes for each season, this set also contains five – count ‘em five – entire discs devoted only to Special Features.
Season One Bonus Features (Disc Eleven):
Disc Eleven of Season One boasts the Featurette The Cloak and Swagger Affair: The Untold History of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (28:05) which features many interviews with cast, crew and historians and gives you some insight as to Ian Fleming’s contribution, too; the series’ original color pilot entitled “Solo” (70:06); and U.N.C.L.E. V.I.P.S.: A Celebration of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Guest Stars (09:47), a collage of clips featuring some of the many talented guest stars interjected with some tidbits and reminiscing from selected cast and crew members.
Season Two Bonus Features (Disc Eleven):
Disc Eleven of Season Two begins with the Featurette The Spy-Fi Tour: Archives, Art and Artifacts (23:25), a look at an incredible assortment of cool U.N.C.L.E. props and memorabilia from Danny Biederman’s Spy-Fi Collection which is located aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. Next is One Spy Too Many (101:25), the 1966 feature film which combined both parts of “Alexander the Greater Affair” and was released theatrically. The movie features some new footage shot especially for the film, including Yvonne Craig as an U.N.C.L.E. Agent who teases Napoleon, and a beginning with David Sheiner. This cut appears to have been mastered from a video print. Thirdly, there is a Season Two U.N.C.L.E. V.I.P.S.: A Celebration of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Guest Stars (06:11).
Season Three Bonus Features (Disc Eleven):
Disc Eleven of Season Three boasts Double Agents: The David McCallum And Robert Vaughn Reunion (77:41) a wonderful Interview with the stars; The Secret Tapes Of Illya Kuryakin: Home Movies From The Set Of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” (16:59), a fascinating collection of Super8mm footage made by actor David McCallum (which he also narrates); and (if the novelty hasn’t already worn off) a Season Three U.N.C.L.E. V.I.P.S.: A Celebration of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Guest Stars (06:13).
Season Four Bonus Features (Disc Six):
Disc Six of Season Four (which also co-inhabits data space with the final episodes of the series) contains the featurette MGM’s Secret Operatives (28:02) and the last U.N.C.L.E. V.I.P.S.: A Celebration of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Guest Stars (5:15).
Bonus Disc 1 (available only in the box set):
Bonus Disc One contain six original Featurettes:
Cold War, Hot Spies: U.N.C.L.E. and the Cold War (21:33), Guns, Gizmos, Gadgets and Garb (19:20), Behind the Wheel: U.N.C.L.E.’s Piranha (17:29), Fandemonium (25:09), The Music from U.N.C.L.E. (23:33), The Girls of U.N.C.L.E. (6:10).
Five Television Promos (which range from 15sec to 1min in duration): Summer ‘64, 1966-’67, Spring ‘67, “The Test Tube Killer Affair” (9/18/67) and Fall ‘67
Four Theatrical Trailers for the feature length compilations (which range from 38sec to 1min 48sec in length): To Trap a Spy (First U.N.C.L.E. movie – released overseas, 1964, released in U.S., 1966), The Spy with My Face (Second U.N.C.L.E. movie – released overseas, 1965, released in U.S., 1966), One Spy Too Many (Third U.N.C.L.E. movie – released overseas, 1964, released in U.S., 1966), One of Our Spies is Missing (Fourth U.N.C.L.E. movie – released overseas, 1966).
Official Debriefings: Interviews with Writer Dean Hargrove (27:10) and Actor David McCallum (21:32)
Bonus Disc 2 (available only in the box set):
Bonus Disc Two contains four Official Debriefings: Interviews with Director Richard Donner (28:38), Assistant Producer George Lehr (70:07), Director Joseph Sargent (21:09) and Actor Robert Vaughn (26:29)
TV Appearances and Spots: The Golden Globe Awards for 1965, aired live on The Andy Williams Show, 1/31/66 (1:44); 1965 Emmy Broadcast, 9/12/65 – Robert Vaughn & David McCallum, Presenters (2:01); David McCallum on The Andy Williams Show, 9/20/65 (3:49); Tom & Jerry Cartoon: “The Mouse From H.U.N.G.E.R.”, MGM, 1967 (6:47)
Photo and Image Galleries: Behind-the-Scenes: Designs and Blueprints from the set of U.N.C.L.E.; Hidden Camera: An U.N.C.L.E. Photo Gallery; Classified Files: Network and Studio Documents; For Collectors Only: U.N.C.L.E. Memorabilia; Top Secret: U.N.C.L.E. Motion Picture Advertising and Publicity.
Needless to say, the folks at Warner Home Video have given us plenty of Special Features. And rightfully so, too, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a legendary television series that still deserves much love and affection to this day. This remarkable box set originally debuted as a mail-in set from Time Life (complete with attache case style packaging), before being released to stores (and later, in a repackaged form). Each season is also available separately on DVD and on various On Demand video streaming formats. So there is positively no excuse for not watching at least one episode of this fun, addictive blast from the past.