U.N.C.L.E. the Show
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Altogether, fans were treated to 134 U.N.C.L.E. episodes. THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. accounted for 105 of them, spanning four seasons. In addition 29 GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E. episodes were produced.
A number of them are available on commercially released video tapes, but alas, most are not. So relive your favorite moments in this section where we remind you why U.N.C.L.E. is your favorite show.
A Season-By-Season Guide to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Bill Koenig discusses the highlights and lowlights (yes, they exist!) of each season.
Episode and Production Credit Guide
Compliments of Jon Heitland, a comprehensive guide to all the episodes.
Links to what other fans have to say about the episodes.
Your chance to speak your mind!
A SEASON-BY-SEASON GUIDE TO
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
by Bill Koenig
Some shows have consistency from season to season. The Man From U.N.C.L.E., in many ways, did not. Each of the four seasons has its own personality, in large part because of a revolving door of creative personnel. While executive producer Norman Felton had the overall creative responsibility for the entire run, he also had to deal with NBC, negotiate licensing deals, etc. Meanwhile, producers -- those with day-to-day oversight of scripts -- changed quite a bit. What follows is a description of each season and each years highs and low marks.
Season One (1964-65)
Sam Rolfe, who wrote the shows pilot script, also produced the initial season. While he isnt credited with a script other than the pilot, he did pass out ideas for other writers to develop. The first season is the most consistent and generally executes a good balance of adventure and humor. One problem is that the episodes were filmed in black and white, except for the pilot and The Double Affair. Each was filmed in color, but shown in black and white on television, with color prints used as theatrical movies (which included extra footage). As a result, these episodes tend to be seen less than color episodes.
Season One high marks:
1. The Vulcan Affair. Pilot begins with a dramatic pre-credit sequence of a Thrush raid on U.N.C.L.E. HQs, maintains strong pace from there. Excellent Jerry Goldsmith score. There is one drawback for David McCallum fans: hes only in a couple of scenes.
2. The Quadripartite Affair/The Giuoco Piano Affair. Originally devised as a two-part show, this story was presented as separate, but related, episodes. Alan Caillou was the first writer to flesh out the Illya Kuryakin character. Giuoco Piano is one of the series best, including everything from Solos intricate strategy to goofy cameos by director Richard Donner, Felton, Rolfe and associate producer Joseph Calvelli.
3. The Project Strigas Affair. Almost seems like the blueprint for Mission: Impossible. Plus, the first pairing of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
4. The Double Affair. Old plot -- villains create a double for the hero -- is carried off well. Excellent Morton Stevens score.
5. The Deadly Decoy Affair. Solo and Kuryakin have to escort Thrush official to Washington. Or is he a decoy? An innocent gets entangled along the way. Very exciting, good drama/humor balance. Debut of the Thrush logo.
6. The Never-Never Affair. Very delicate balance of humor and adventure works splendidly. Shootout between Solo and Kuryakin with Thrush agents in movie theater is a series highlight.
Season One low marks:
1. The Green Opal Affair. Just not as witty and fast moving as rest of season one episodes, though Carroll OConnor is a great villain.
Season Two (1965-66)
Rolfe left after the first year and was succeeded by veteran producer David Victor, who seemed to have a good idea of what worked and what to avoid. Victor retained writers like Caillou, Dean Hargrove and Peter Allan Fields, whose efforts brightened the first season. But Victor would be promoted after several episodes. Mort Abrahams and Boris Ingster each did stints in the producers chair. A good season overall, but not as consistent as the first campaign.
Season Two high points:
1. The Alexander the Greater Affair. Writer Hargrove and director Joseph Sargent are in fine form. First two-parter of the series is available only in its movie version, One Spy Too Many. Lots of thrills and humor. Scene with Kuryakin stripped to shorts as mad scientist is about to make a mummy out of him is a favorite of many female fans. Rip Torn is top notch as the mysterious Mr. Alexander, who wants to emulate Alexander the Great and take over the world. Very good score by Gerald Fried.
2. The Foxes and Hounds Affair. Vincent Price is wonderful as Thrushman Victor Marton. U.N.C.L.E. and Thrush race after a mind-reading machine. Many good performances and lines. Probably Fields' best script, based on a plot by Eric Bercovici. Excellent Robert Drasnin score.
3. The Cherry Blossom Affair. Excellent blend of adventure and humor, with story taking Solo and Kuryakin to Japan. No occidentals playing Asians is a big plus.
4. The Nowhere Affair. Another old plot -- hero gets amnesia -- presented with new twists, good character development.
5. The Minus-X Affair. While the science is questionable, what makes this story go is the relationship between a Thrush scientist (Eve Arden) and her estranged daughter (Sharon Farrell). A less than happy ending, relatively rare for the series.
Season Two low points:
1. The Foreign Legion Affair. Awfully silly, a clue to how things would go in the third season.
2. The Roundtable Affair. A real hodge podge of a script. Bruce Gordon in a suit of armor?
3. The Indian Affairs Affair. Rare Hargrove misfire. Intended to parody Western movies, most of the script falls flat, with just one or two good bits. Illya disguised as an Indian is just silly.
Season Three (1966-67)
NBC, seeing the huge success of ABCs Batman, wanted The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to adopt a much lighter, campier tone. Boris Ingster, who became producer during the close of season two, didnt treat much seriously and imported Batman creative personnel such as writers Stanford Sherman and Stanley Ralph Ross and director george waGGner (why he spelled it that way, I have no idea). Ross and Harlan Ellison (who wrote two scripts) could do light hearted stories that didnt seem totally stupid. But other writers struggled.
Season Three high points:
1. The Concrete Overcoat Affair. In this two-part episode, Jack Palance and Janet Leigh were memorable villains, and Peter Allan Fields and Joseph Sargent did a great job on their last whirl for MFU. If only the rest of the third season had this kind of effort.
2. The Pieces of Fate Affair. Ellisons script parodies small-town life, the literary world and television. Hes also witty enough to make the light hearted approach work.
3. The Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum Affair. Byplay between Illya and the captain of a ship who is unknowingly transporting a Thrush weapon elevates this above the standard third season silliness.
Season Three low points:
1. The My Friend, the Gorilla Affair. Robert Vaughn dances with a man in a gorilla suit. Oh, theres plenty else thats horrible, but that sentence says it best. The series worst episode.
2. The Super-Colossal Affair. Illya rides atop a giant stink bomb being dropped on Las Vegas. Echh.
3. The Hot Number Affair. Sonny and Cher hadnt acted before and it shows. Silly beyond words, with a horrible score by Gerald Fried.
4. The Apply A Day Affair. Uses all sorts of country bumpkin cliches, humor falls flat. Really bad.
5. The Matterhorn Affair. Bill Dana is so whiny as the innocent, you wish Thrush would kill him just to put him out of our misery.
Season Four (1967-68)
Norman Felton hired Anthony Spinner, who had written a first season episode, to be producer of the fourth season. Spinner instituted a back to basics movement, though the stories he commissioned did not have as much humor as perhaps they should have. However, he did a good job overall. Unfortunately, MFU got clobbered by Gunsmoke (which started a half-hour earlier). The long running Western had been canceled after 12 seasons but CBS chief William Paley ordered a reprieve, moving it from Saturdays to Mondays. (The show ended up running another eight seasons, most of them in the top 10 rated shows.) Gunsmoke had a lot of strong episodes and U.N.C.L.E. got overwhelmed, getting canceled at mid-season. Too bad, because Spinner had some interesting scripts in the pipeline that were never seen, including one that introduced the head of Thrush.
Season Four highlights:
1. The Summit-Five Affair. While not perfect, season opener clearly establishes the silliness is gone. Thrush nearly succeeds in assassinating the top officials of U.N.C.L.E..
2. Prince of Darkness Affair. Two-part episode seems like a throwback to season two, very fast moving and the most expensive for the series. Part Two is marred by some editing gaffes, which are corrected in the movie version, The Helicopter Spies. Hargroves first script since the end of the second season. He had another in the pipeline when the show got canceled.
3. The Masters Touch Affair. Jack Lord, a year before Hawaii Five-O debuted, is very good as a Thrush chieftain who is trying to manipulate U.N.C.L.E. into destroying his enemies within Thrush. Illya gets beaten up more than normal.
4. The Deadly Quest Affair. Darren McGavin is very good as an old enemy who kidnaps Illya to use as bait against Solo. Episode recycles Jerry Goldsmith scores from the first season, reinforcing the whole back to basics feel.
Season Four low lights:
1. The J for Judas Affair. Broderick Crawford bellows too much and the lack of humor is suffocating in this story.
2. The Seven Wonders of the World Affair. Basic plot isn't bad, but show is padded and it shows. Story originally wasn't supposed to be a two-part episode. But Felton ordered it expanded so one last U.N.C.L.E. movie could be released in international markets.
EPISODE AND PRODUCTION CREDIT GUIDE
by Jon Heitland
Jon Heitland, author of The MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Book, has kindly permitted us to reprint the episode and production credit guide from his book.
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. - Season One
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. - Season Two
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. - Season Three
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. - Season Four
GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E.
From U.N.C.L.E. Episode Guide
Bill Koenig's wonderful guide to all the episodes. Full of trivia and information.
Comments or questions about specific shows? Leave a message on our