'The Man from U.N.C.L.E: The Complete Season 1'
(Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, Leo G. Carroll, et al / 10-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: In this hit spoof on the spy genre, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum star as a team of secret agents battling the global crime organization THRUSH. Under the aegis of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.), the dapper, suave Napoleon Solo (Vaughn) and the equally dashing Illya Kuryakin (McCallum) jet to exotic locations, defending the world from evil, chaos and bad taste!
DVD Verdict: 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' premiered in 1964 based on the popularity of the James Bond movies. I never was a big fan of the Bond flicks, but I loved 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' The combination of tongue-in-cheek humor and outlandish gadgets was not only entertaining, but great fun! And Robert Vaughn and David McCallum did a terrific job in their roles, skirting just on the edge of silliness, but still with a certain gleam in their eye that let you know the whole business was just too outlandish to possibly be real. Secret headquarters, outlandish villains, super spy gadgets, MFU had it all. And it was all great fun.
Leo G. Carroll played the unflappable Mr. Waverly, who always seemed to be one step ahead of his agents. This soon-t-be released Season 1 was undoubtedly the best, although 2 had its moments also. Season 3 was not entirely a disaster, but the producers tried too hard to make it all silly comedy, ala 'Batman', which was a campy hit, and lost the flavor of the show. Although there are some outstanding moments, as when Solo is busy kissing the girl in the warm comfort of a car, while Kuryakin is fighting the bad guys in the pouring rain. As he stands there, drenched, Illya looks at his warm, dry partner and remarks, "We make such good partners." But by the time season 4 rolled around the damage had been done, although they tried going back to the original concept. All the actors had lost interest and it was canceled.
Here in Season 1, which features all the 29 episodes in on 10 DVDs, we kick off with "The Vulcan Affair" (which also stars Richard Kiel) and end with "The Odd Man Affair". In-between we get episodes such as "The Quadripartite Affair" (with Jill Ireland), "The Project Strigas Affair" (with both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy), "The Finny Foot Affair" (with Kurt Russell), "The Dove Affair" (with Ricardo Montalban), and amongst others both "The Gazebo in the Maze Affair" (with George Sanders) and "The Girls of Nazarone Affair" featuring Sharon Tate.
As I say, the show ended in 1968. The spy craze had run its course. Whereas 'Mission: Impossible' was able to reinvent itself as a crime show, MFU simply could not follow suit. One could not imagine Napoleon and Illya hot on the trail of The Syndicate. It's equally impossible to imagine it being set in any era other than the '60's. The concept of an American agent working alongside a Russian was a novelty at the time. I don't think it would impress anyone today.
For that reason alone, I hope nobody tries to make a movie of this show. The Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson movie 'I Spy' was a stinker, and I would not like to see MFU getting the same treatment. Let's all continue to enjoy the original, especially now we have this incredible 10-disc DVD box-set in our hands to enjoy. This is a Standard Version Presentation (Aspect Ratio 4:3) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
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