Probably the best season of the series, certainly the most consistent. Sam Rolfe, who had written the pilot script was on hand as producer. “The Vulcan Affair” and “The Double Affair” were shot in color so they could be shown later as movies (black and white prints were made for use on TV). Many of the Season One shows were strong entries, though there were a few duds. Key to abbrevations: NS=Napoleon Solo. IK=Illya Kuryakin.
Credits for the season:
Executive Producer: Norman Felton (Eps. 2-29)
Producer: Sam Rolfe (Eps. 2-29), Norman Felton (Eps. 1, no executive producer for that episode)
Associate Producers: Joseph Calvelli (Eps. 2-14, 17, 23, 26), Robert Foshko (Eps. 20-22, 24-25, 27-29)
Episodes are listed in the order they were aired. Numbers in parenthesis indicate the order in which they were filmed. Those numbers are based on production information in Jon Heitland’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. book. In June 2021, a member on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Inner Circle Facebook page asserted that information was incorrect without providing details.
All reviews © 1997-2017 William J. Koenig.
1. The Vulcan Affair/To Trap A Spy. (1)
Original airdate: September 22, 1964
Writer: Sam Rolfe. Director: Don Medford
What started it all.
Opening pre-title sequence (TV version) tells us much without a single line of dialogue. A Thrush team invades UNCLE through the soon-to-be famous Del Floria’s secret entrance. Jerry Goldsmith’s “Invaders” theme enhances the scene.
The team is found out, but not before one member gets deep into the building. Pre-credit sequence ends with famous scene of NS standing behind bullet-resistant glass shield. Movie version is slightly longer.
After main titles, NS disposes of Thrush assassin. Explanations follow how Thrush team was trying to kill UNCLE leader (Leo G. Carroll as Mr. Waverly in TV version, Will Kuluva as Mr. Allison in movie version). Movie version also provides fuller explanation of how the UNCLE badges and alarm works (receptionist’s fingers are coated with chemical needed for badges to properly activate doors). Movie version also shows surviving members of the Thrush team dying from a delayed-reaction poison — they were dead whether the raid succeeded or failed.
Robert Vaughn has a “wet look” hairstyle that would change in next episode. IK is only seen twice in TV version, three times in movie version, and doesn’t figure into main plot. Sam Rolfe’s story involves Thrush attempt to assassinate leaders of a “newly independent” African nation so Thrush can take over. In movie version, Thrush is called Wasp, but the word clearly is dubbed. It sounds like Robert Vaughn is dubbing the word “Wasp” even when other people are saying it.
Gaffe in TV version: Waverly hands NS a dossier on Thrush chieftain Andrew Vulcan (Fritz Weaver). In close up shot, there’s a telephone behind the dossier. But Waverly had handed NS the dossier in the middle of the hallway — there was no telephone. In movie version, Allison was in his office when he handed NS the dossier; NS is holding it above a desk, hence the shot of the phone.
Patricia Crowley becomes the prototype innocent — a woman (as almost all innocents would be) leading a normal life drawn into a fantastic adventure. In both the TV and movie versions, UNCLE is shown to be powerful, as a pastor notes his bishop pressured him to ask Patricia Crowley’s character to cooperate with NS. Goldsmith’s “Meet Mr. Solo” theme would be reused throughout the series, ususually at the end of an episode. Grade: A.
Behind the Scenes: In the original pilot film, the pre-credits sequence is fairly close to the TV version seen in syndication. There are a few extra scenes, but not as many as in To Trap A Spy. In the main titles, we see the familiar world map but with the word “SOLO” (sans serif typeface, all capital letters). The actors credits appear over pictures of various famous world landmarks, rather than stills from the episode.
The intervening sequences are like a mix of the TV and movie versions — longer than the TV episode but not as long as To Trap A Spy. There are no act titles, either. Andrew Vulcan is head of the “Vulcan Chemical Corporation” in this version, but it was changed to “United Global Chemical Corporation” in the broadcast version. Patricia Crowley’s Elaine May Bender poses as widow Elaine “Van Essen” in this version; the version that aired on NBC dubbed a different name. The second commercial insert occurs after Solo survives an assassnation attempt by Thrush; in the version actually aired, the break comes as his car plunges into a river and we don’t see if he survives until Act III.
In the end titles, acting credits for Robert Vaughn, Elizabeth Crowley, Fritz Weaver and William Marshall are repeated. David McCallum is the last featured player listed, before we get the actors who played all the small parts. All of this means we get to listen to a somewhat longer version of Goldsmith’s UNCLE theme, not a bad thing at all.
Finally, after the end titles, Robert Vaughn appears, providing potential advertisers with a guide to what the series will be like. While we never heard Solo’s first name in the actual pilot, Vaughn does refer to his character as Napoleon Solo. There’s one gaffe in the sequence — Vaughn says UNCLE headquarters is in “the east fifties” of New York City, not the east forties. A clip of Will Kuluva is shown, indicating he’ll play “my boss, Mr. Allison.” Vaughn also briefly mentions Illya who, he says, “is an interesting young man — you’ll see him often.” The actor also notes in this presentation that UNCLE has nothing to do with the United Nations. “It’s merely a code.We call it UNCLE.” He also says “the viewers of television” will be part of the series, just like Patricia Crowley’s character. “So what do you have to lose, except your boredom?” Vaughn says, smiling. “Or your lives?”
2. The Iowa-Scuba Affair. (2)
Original airdate: September 29, 1964
Writer: Harold Jack Bloom Director: Richard Donner
First regular episode produced for the series. Robert Vaughn switches the part in his hair and now has more of a “dry look” compared to the pilot. No Illya Kuryakin in the episode.
Instead of pre-credits sequence of the pilot, we’re show a short introductory sequence where Solo, illya and Waverly break the “fourth wall” and talk directly to the audience.
An interestingly staged sequence leads off Act I. A serviceman kisses an Iowa woman good night. But shortly after riding off in his motorcycle, he’s confronted by Solo. Like the beginning of episode 1, there’s no dialogue in this confrontation, just visuals. Stirring music by Morton Stevens. The serviceman tries to run NS down, and NS kills him. In the very next scene, Solo poses as the man’s brother.
Eventually, we’re told the dead man was part of a terrorist team (first non-Thrush menace for the series) which is trying to steal a top secret plane at a nearby Air Force base. The terrorists are using underground tunnels that are supposed to be part of a farm’s system of wells. Script by Harold Jack Bloom, who was co-author with Rolfe of “The Naked Spur.” Bloom would get an “additional story material” credit in the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice,” but may have deserved equal credit with that film’s writer, Roald Dahl. Richard Donner directs the first of four UNCLE episodes, showing some of the same techniques he’d use in feature films. Grade: A.
3. The Quadripartite Affair. (9)
Original airdate: October 6, 1964
Writer: Alan Caillou Director: Richard Donner
First episode to significiantly utilize Kuryakin. Title means “of four parts,” referring to four conspirators trying to seize power in an Eastern European country. The brains of the outfit are Anne Francis and John Van Dreelen as a power-hungry couple. Jill Ireland, at the time David McCallum’s wife, is fine as Marion Raven, the episode’s innocent. Roger C. Carmel and Richard Anderson (here without a toupee), two veteran character actors, are also in the cast.
Walter Scharf becomes the third different composer in as many episodes. While not as stylistic as Goldsmith or Stevens, his music is effective. A shot of a missile hitting a plane is obviously a stock shot, one that would be used in MFU as well as other TV shows (Hawaii Five-O, for example). Also, a dummy that falls off a walking bridge (supposedly a guard falling to his doom) looks particularly unconvincing.
Much better is a scene where NS discovers Marion Raven has been kidnapped and IK is cringing in the corner, a victim of fear-inducing gas. The plot is smashed, but Francis and Van Dreelen are still at large. Originally written by Alan Calliou as a two-parter, it was instead presented as two separate stories. Norman Felton had given some consideration to filming additional scenes and releasing both episodes as a movie but the plan was ditched (noted in Jon Heitland’s “Man From UNCLE Book”). The end titles misspell the name of assistant director E. Darrell Hallenbeck. Grade: A.
4. The Shark Affair. (5)
Original airdate: October 13, 1964
Writer: Alvin Sapinsley Director: Marc Daniels
Robert Culp is excellent as Captain Shark, who is looting ships and kidnapping selected passengers. Shark (whose real name, Arthur Farnley Selwyn, isn’t revealed until the end of the show) believes the world is doomed to fall into atomic war. So, he has set up his own “Noah’s Ark” to begin anew once the war has come and gone. In opening scene, he wants to know if a passenger can tune a piano. James Doohan, later of Star Trek, appears as one of the ship’s officers. A scene with Waverly in Act I provides hints that NS is quite familiar with ships. Later, Solo and Kuryakin are having martinis in Waverly’s office. No wonder the UNCLE chief acts miffed when he enters the office a few moments later. Only UNCLE script by Alvin Sapinsley, but it has some nice scenes. “Is this grip necessary?” NS asks as two of Captain Shark’s crew are squeezing the agent’s head. This is to keep him still so Shark can use a whip on Solo’s back. Culp was 34 years old when this episode originally aired, but Shark appears to be about a decade older and Culp’s temples are streaked liberally with gray. Decent Scarf score has some bits that would be reused later in the season. Grade: A.
5. The Deadly Games Affair. (8)
Original airdate: October 20, 1964
Writer: Dick Nelson Director: Alvin Ganzer
A familiar plot (Hitler is really alive, just in suspended animation). Still some nice touches, as UNCLE and Thrush (in first appearance since the pilot) seek out a Nazi scientist (Alexander Scourby). A college student and his financee (Burt Brinckerhoff and Brooke Bundy) end up in the middle of the action. The name of Scourby’s character, Dr. Amadeus, seems to be dubbed. We’re told NS has the same blood type as Hitler, just in time for Dr. Amadeus to re-animate the Nazi. In end scene, Robert Vaughn seems to have a 5 o’clock shadow. This episode marks the only appearance of Angelique (Janine Gray), a Thrush operative who has an odd love/hate relationship with Solo. She obviously enjoys his company yet that doesn’t prevent her from trying to kill the UNCLE agent with a deadly spider hidden in a flower. This ambiguous relationship is a favorite of fan fiction writers. Excellent Jerry Goldsmith score is his first since the pilot. One piece of music, played in a scene where Thrush agents kidnap the student, would be re-used CONSTANTLY during the second half of Season One during fight scenes. Grade: B-Plus.
UPDATE: Professor Amadeus/Wolfgang Volp, the Nazi scientist, plans to drain Solo of his blood to reanimate Hitler. We’re told the scientist needed someone of the same blood type. It turns out Solo actually did have the same blood type. For additional details, go to the SEASON FOUR page and look at the review for The Thrush Roulette Affair.
6. The Green Opal Affair. (7)
Original airdate: October 27, 1964
Writer: Robert E. Thompson Director: John Peyser
Carroll O’Connor is great as a Thrush operative. Other than that, not much to recommend the story. An UNCLE agent goes beserk, the victim of Thrush mind control. NS goes undercover (there’s very little IK in this episode) as a prissy male secretary. Asian thug seems to look an awful like Oddjob from “Goldfinger” (though this show appeared before the film debuted in the U.S.) Some reference sources list this as an original Goldsmith score but the composer seems to re-use a lot of his compositions. Soundtrack expert Jon Burlingame, who spearheaded the 2002 Film Score Monthly MFU sountrack project, says his research indicates this is a stock score of music Goldsmith composed for The Vulcan Affair and The Deadly Games Affair. Another oddity: in end titles Goldsmith is credited separately for the episode score and the theme. Other episodes with predominant Goldsmith scores simply read “music by Jerry Goldsmith.” In any case, this is one of the weakest first-season shows, despite O’Connor. Grade: C-Minus.
7. The Giuoco Piano Affair. (10)
Original airdate: November 10, 1964
Writer: Alan Caillou Director: Richard Donner
Sequel to The Quadripartite Affair is even better, and wittier, than the original. Marion Raven (Jill Ireland) is suspicious of NS, which is funny because they seemed to get along just fine in their first adventure. Meanwhile, she’s quite sweet on IK. Title refers to a chess gambit which basically causes an opponent to move out his Queen. NS has, in effect, based his plan on this chess strategy. Nice exchange where Harold Buffington (John Van Dreelen) tells Marion that he knows his partner, Gervaise Ravel (Anne Francis), isn’t in love with him. But he loves her and will do (or finance) anything to keep her. Buffington says he would know Gervaise loves him when “she weeps over my grave.” Later, Gervaise does weep as Buffington is dying from an IK gunshot wound. Writer Caillou, director Donner and composer Scharf return. Famous party scene has cameos by Donner (as “inebriate”), Norman Felton (as “chess player”), Sam Rolfe (as “Texan”) and associate producer Joseph Calvelli (as “Writer”). Only Donner gets dialogue, plus he gets to wear a really loud plaid jacket. Final episode to use the “fourth wall” introductory scene. Grade: A-Plus.
8.. The Double Affair/The Spy With My Face. (12)
Original airdate: November 17, 1964
Writers: Clyde Ware (TV version); Ware and Joseph Calvelli (movie version) Director: John Newland
TV version has a new introductory scene that will last of Season One. It’s based on the pilot. We see the shadow of a Thrush assassin inside UNCLE. The assassin shoots at a silouhette of NS. But NS is unharmed because he’s standing behind bullet-resistant glass. The title of episode is shown on Robert Vaughn closeup and we go into the main titles.
In this show, there’s another basic adventure plot (villains use plastic surgery to create a double for the hero). Still, it’s brought off fairly well. A climatic fight scene with two Solos fighting each other is surprisingly good (it’s less obvious here that one is the star and the other a stunt player and the editing of the sequence is excellent). Perhaps best Morton Stevens score of the series. His “Wild Bike” theme in places sounds similar to the “The Chase” theme he wrote for the Hawaii Five-O pilot four years later. Stevens’ arrangement of the MFU theme in scene where Serena shoots Solo’s double sounds like the end of a typical Five-O episode. Thrush is referred by villainess Serena as “him” in closing scenes.
Guest Star Senta Berger is listed second in the main titles, after Robert Vaughn but before David McCallum. TV version has sole writing credit for Clyde Ware, but movie version credits Ware and associate producer Joseph Calvelli. The latter evidently wrote additional scenes for movie version, including shower scene with NS and Serena (Solo: “I thought you promised not to attack.” Serena: “How can I attack when you’re pointing that thing at me?” The images suggest Serena may not be referring to a pistol Solo has in the shower.) In movie version, Thrush officials look at film taken by now-dead agents inside UNCLE HQs; it’s really the footage from the “fourth wall” intro used in eps 2-7. Grade: A.
Behind the scenes: This story underwent a lot of revisions, suggesting Joseph Calvelli did more than just add scenes for the movie version. An early draft by Clyde Ware, dated May 12, 1964, has much different — and in some cases, more clumsy — dialogue.
For example, there’s a sequence wehre Solo and Illya are decoding information from microfilm and Illya agrees to let Solo leave early for a date. “Believe me — if you ever have a lawn, I’ll mow it for you!” Solo says. (This draft has a lot of dialogue with exclamation points for lines where a character doesn’t seem to be shouting.)
After the pilot was shot, the producers and NBC debated whether the name Thrush should remain or be changed. This is reflected in the early Ware script where the villains’ organization is called MAGGOTT. And UNCLE is still headed by Mr. Allison, from the original version of the pilot. However, Allison’s dialogue is more Waverly like than the Allison dialogue uttered by Will Kuluva. Other differences: Sandy, Solo’s girlfriend played by Sharon Farrell, is described in the early draft as only 20 (she can’t vote yet) and from the South; Namana, an African UNCLE agent, survives the story (he’s killed in the version that was filmed); and in the climatic sequence, Solo is driving a car rather than riding a motorcycle. One trivia note: in the May 12 draft, we’re told that Solo’s mother lived in Wisconsin and died of natural casues in 1956. Generally, the changes made by Calvelli, or any other writer who might have worked on the script, improved upon the original draft. One reason I suspect Calvelli: a French character in the early draft becomes an Italian agent in the finished product.
9. The Project Strigas Affair. (14)
Orignal airdate: November 24, 1964 (stardate: 1821.5)
Writer: Henry Misrock Director: Joseph Sargent
This episode has become the answer to a trivia question for Star Trek fans — the first pairing of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. The duo, actually, are only in a couple of scenes together and really don’t play off one another. Joseph Sargent’s debut as an UNCLE director. Show has a “Mission: Impossible” feel as we’re only given hints of NS’s plans before they’re put into effect. Shatner and one-time child actress Peggy Ann Garner are the innocents, recruited into NS’s scheme to bring down a diplomat who is trying to enflame U.S./U.S.S.R. tensions. Werner Klemperer actually is good as the diplomat, but people raised on “Hogan’s Heroes” will probably have a tough time taking him seriously. IK appears in disguise. Also, first appearance of Woodrow Parfey in an UNCLE episode (he’ll be in several others, ususally as a secondary villain). Music by Scharf is OK. Grade: A.
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10. The Finny Foot Affair. (15)
Original airdate: December 1, 1964
Teleplay: Jack Turley and Jay Simms Story: Simms Director: Marc Daniels
A 13-year-old Kurt Russell is the innocent here, hoping to entice NS into marrying the boy’s widowed mother. The trouble is, NS is trying to locate a chemical that speeds the aging process. Eerie opening scene where NS and IK burn down a Scottish town where everyone has died from exposure to the chemical. Debut of the UNCLE helicopter. Good Stevens music score, with a snippet of Goldsmith added in Act IV. Leonard Strong, who plays the episode’s Asian villain, later appeared as the Claw, a very politically incorrect adversary on “Get Smart.” Grade: B-Plus.
11. The Neptune Affair. (4)
Original airdate: December 8, 1964
Teleplay: Henry Sharp and John W. Bloch Story: Bloch Director: Vincent McEveety
We catch a glimpse of Kuryakin in a Soviet military uniform, inspecting damage from a spore released by a rocket that’s crashed in Soviet grain belt. The launch was traced to U.S., boosting tension. IK, in fact, tells Solo that he has to go back to his homeland because of the crisis. The Soviet Union will retaliate if another spore rocket is launched.
Solo is left to crack the mystery on his own, eventually finds group of scientists who are trying to ignite World War III. Their leader, Vincent Lockridge (Henry Jones) says they’ll establish a new society based on logic andorder. One of the scientists is played by John Banner, who thankfully doesn’t say he “knows nuttink.” Banner’s character, though, acts more than a little kooky. Marta Kristen is the innocent, playing the daughter of a missing scientist; she is the first of future “Lost in Space” stars to be on MFU (June Lockhart is the other; see Eps. 12). Script is co-written by Henry Sharp, who would become story editor and lead writer on The Wild, Wild West. First use of stock music, here utilizing past scores from Goldsmith and Scharf. Grade: B.
12. The Dove Affair. (11)
Original airdate: December 15, 1964
Writer: Robert Towne Director: John Peyser
NS plays spy vs. spy with Satine, ace intelligence agent of an Eastern European country. The nation’s leader has been assassinated by Thrush. Both NS and Satine want to prevent Thrush from taking power but both are on the defensive from government officials allied with Thrush.
Robert Towne’s script is full of witty lines and Ricardo Montalban is wonderful as Satine, who has a variety of quirks such as a fear of teenagers. That’s too bad for Satine because teacher June Lockhart and her American students are the innocents who keep getting in the middle.
Stock music score is credited to Goldsmith only, but there are a few cuts of Scharf music here and there. Also, some of the stock music used in the climatic scene of Act IV was originally composed for The King of Knaves Affair, which wouldn’t air until the following week.
Ending is a bit unsatisifactory. The dove in the title refers to a medal with the names of Thrush agents engraved in microscopic letters. Satine gets the dove and NS gets a picture of the dove. How is this is going to help UNCLE get the Thrush agents? One supposes UNCLE technology can somehow extract the names from the fuzzy picture but that seems a stretch. Also, as noted on UNCLE listserver, Towne’s script for the 1996 “Mission: Impossible” movie seems to recycle some scenes from this show. No illya in the show. Grade: B-Plus.
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13. The King of Knaves Affair. (6)
Original airdate: December 22, 1964
Writer: Ellis Marcus Director: Michael O’Herlihy
An OK episode where NS and IK end up opposing a deposed ruler of a European country (Paul Stevens) wanting to retake power. An IK fight on a hotel balcony obviously uses a stunt double for David McCallum. This is Jerry Goldsmith’s last original score for the series has some nice cuts. It’s better than the stock score of Eps. 6, but not up to the standards of Eps. 1 or 5 and in spots sounds an awful lot like his previous work. We see the entrance to UNCLE offices in Rome is through a tailor shop, just like in New York. We’re also shown how NS and IK are “programmed” for cover identities. Director Michael O’Herlihy would direct Robert Vaughn and David McCallum again — 22 years later in “The Say UNCLE Affair” episode of the A-Team. O’Herlihy also is the brother of actor Dan O’Herlihy (see Eps. 16, 78 and 104-105). Grade: B.
14. The Terbuf Affair. (17)
Original airdate: December 29, 1964
Writer: Alan Caillou Director: Richard Donner
First time in series that NS and IK go on an adventure for personal reasons. NS (he’s in Rome, presumably this occurs shortly after Eps. 13) is approached by an old flame (Madilyn Rhue) to help an oppressed Eastern European nation. She doesn’t know her husband is a rat who’s collaborating with the country’s secret police. Albert Paulsen and Alan Calliou (the episode’s writer) are suitably slimy villains. The UNCLE agents are helped greatly by IK’s knowledge of gypsies. The stock music is drawn from Goldsmith and Scharf compositions. Most of Scharf’s pieces are taken from Eps. 3 and 7. Richard Donner’s last UNCLE directing effort. Grade: A-Minus.
15. The Deadly Decoy Affair. (19)
Original airdate: January 11, 1965
Writer: Albert Aley Director: Alvin Ganzer
The episode first aired on Jan. 11, 1965, when show was switched to Monday nights. The change was vital to keeping the show going during the first season. A special opening is filmed, where NS comes out from behind the bullet-resistant screen and talks to the audience.
“Tonight, we have an affair involving Thrush. Now you remember Thrush, that nasty international band of renegades. Well, let’s see how nasty they’re going to be tonight, hmmm?” New version of the Goldsmith theme (arranged by Morton Stevens) is used for main titles (though Goldsmith-arranged version still is used in end titles). Show debuts Thrush logo. Excellent Albert Aley script has memorable set pieces (an armored car with Waverly and a Thrush official must drive up on the sidewalk to avoid acid sprayed by Thrush on the street) as well as witty dialogue. Actually we’re kept guessing till the end whether NS or Waverly is escorting the real Thrush official or a decoy. The score by Walter Scharf is the composer’s best for the series. Grade: A.
16. The Fiddlesticks Affair. (18)
Original airdate: January 18, 1965
Teleplay: Peter A. Fields Story: Aben Kandel Director: Theodore J. Flicker
NS and IK intend to blow up a Thrush banking center hidden in a Caribbean casino. They need the services of a thief (Dan O’Herlihy) and an innocent (Marilyn Mason). Again tones of “Mission: Impossible,” especially with an original Lalo Schifrin score. Episode also marks the writing debut of Peter Allan Fields (listed here as Peter A. Fields). Director Theodore J. Flicker would later direct the movie spy spoof “The President’s Analyst” and co-create the TV series “Barney Miller.” Title derives from the innocent’s favorite exclamation, “Fiddlesticks!” Grade: B-Plus.
17. The Yellow Scarf Affair. (16)
Original airdate: January 25, 1965
Teleplay: Robert Yale Libott and Boris Ingster Story: Libott Director: Ron Winston
An interesting plot, involving a resurrected cult in India that kills travelers for their money. The cult has gotten in the middle of the UNCLE-Thrush war by killing an UNCLE agent who was carrying stolen Thrush secret. Solo (without Kuryakin) poses an an insurance adjuster for the “Unified Northern Casualty and Liability Exchange.” He runs into Thrush operative Tom Simpson (Linden Chiles) who’s using a similar cover. Simpson, at times, is comic relief, other times quite serious. David Sheiner appears here as an Indian police official, and he’ll be back in the series in other roles (including Eps. 30-31). At one point, NS removes his suit coat and we can see all the UNCLE Special attachments on his belt. Extremely good music by Morton Stevens is the composer’s last original UNCLE score, though his scores will be continue to be recycled for the rest of Season One. Stevens’ music for this episode sounds extremely similar to his work for a 1974 Hawaii Five-O episode, “How to Steal a Masterpiece.” Script is co-written by Boris Ingster, who would serve as producer during seasons Two and Three. One extra appears both as a tourist dancing (and no facial hair), then later as a member of the cult (with a moustache). Grade: A-Minus.
18. The Mad, MAD Tea Party Affair. (21)
Original airdate: February 1, 1965
Writer: Dick Nelson Director: Seymour Robbie
One of the best first-season shows. Richard Haydn appears as Mr. Hemingway, a mysterious figure who is harrassing UNCLE HQs. At one point, he’s waltzing through the hallway without a security badge, asking NS and IK for directions. All of this comes as UNCLE is to host an important conference of world leaders. At the same time, Thrush’s Dr. Egret (Lee Meriwether) and Riley (Peter Haskell), the latter of whom has infiltrated UNCLE, are planning to assassinate the leaders. On top of all this, an innocent (Zohra Lampert), pops into UNCLE HQs (thanks to Hemingway) much like Alice falling into the rabbit hole (hence the title). While show is watchable, a couple of quibbles. At one point, Hemingway introduces guppies into UNCLE’s water supply. The guppies appear in the drinking water. They don’t look so small they could get all the way through the faucet. Stock music is by Goldsmith and Stevens. Dr. Egret was envisioned as a disguise expert so character could be reused without worrying about getting the same actress. But the good doctor would appear in only one more show (see Eps. 28). Grade: A-Plus.
19. The Secret Sceptre Affair. (20)
Original airdate: February 8, 1965
Writer: Anthony Spinner Director: Marc Daniels
Another “personal” adventure as NS goes off to help Col. Morgan (Gene Raymond), his old commander in Korea. IK tags along, a bit mum on his motivation for helping his fellow agent. Suffice it to say IK must be a good friend to have in a jam. Writer Anthony Spinner’s plot is a bit more complicated the average Season One episode, with loads of deception by those involved. One scene has a deathtrap that includes a bear in a cage; the bear looks particualrly unconvincing. Spinner would become producer in Season Four. Another Goldsmith/Stevens stock music score. Grade: B.
20. The Bow-Wow Affair. (22)
Original airdate: February 15, 1965
Writer: Alan Caillou Director: Sherman Marks
A second consecutive “personal” mission, except this time it’s Waverly assigning his agents to work on a personal matter. A relative of Waverly — much too handsome for his own good, Waverly tells us — is being threatened. Of course, it’s Leo G. Carroll in a double role. First episode where IK gets significantly more on-air time than NS. We’re shown that Solo injured his leg. In reality, the shooting schedule was altered to give Robert Vaughn a break. Eventually, IK is on the trail of gypsies who are turning dogs against their owners. Writer Alan Calliou again uses IK’s knowledge of gypsies as a plot device. McCallum clearly is doing his own stunts in Act IV, greatly enhancing the action. In another scene where IK and the innocent (Susan Oliver) are being threatened by a couple of large dogs, it’s obvious the two dogs are tied together by a thin wire. Yet another Goldsmith/Stevens stock music score. Stevens’ “Wild Bike” theme is played twice. Grade: A.
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21. The Four-Steps Affair. (23)
Original airdate: February 22, 1965
Teleplay: Peter A. Fields Story: Joseph Calvelli Director: Alvin Ganzer
Note: These are probably the credits for the new footage; presumably the scenes with Robert Vaughn and Luciana Paluzzi were written by Rolfe and directed by Medford (see Eps. 1)
Story patched together from leftover sequences filmed for the movie versions of the Vulcan and Double affairs. One indicator: Robert Vaughn’s changing hair. In this version, Thrush wants to assassinate the boy leader of a Himalayan nation. Agent Dancer was called Lancer in To Trap a Spy. Australian UNCLE agent Kitt Kittridge survives this episode, but died in The Spy With My Face. An oddity in end titles: some credits are shown over scenes of Thrushmen moving about at mansion. Other first-season end titles were shown over still frames of the episode. Luciana Paluzzi, as a sultry Thrush villainess (her scenes here are in movie version of Eps. 1), would appear shortly in the James Bond movie “Thunderball.” Stock music is by Goldsmith and Stevens, with a snippet of Scharf in Act IV. Grade: B.
22. The See-Paris-And-Die Affair. (24)
Original airdate: March 1, 1965
Teleplay: Peter A. Fields and Sheldon Stark Story: Stark Director: Alf Kjellin
A fairly frothy romp as UNCLE and Thrush try to find how a pair of cousins (Lloyd Bochner and Gerald Mohr) robbed $500 million in jewels from a diamond syndicate. NS enlists aid of a former flame of both cousins to play both against each other. IK gets the short end of this adventure. He’s bopped on the head and relieved of his trousers by Thrushmen. Later, NS tells Waverly that Illya “forgot” to search the place the counsins hid the diamonds. For a change, the stock music is a mix of Scharf and Stevens. But a snippet of Goldsmith (taken from Eps. 5) is used in a fight scene involving NS and a Thurshman in Act III. Bochner would be back in the fourth season. Trivia note: Mohr was the voice of Mr. Fantastic in the 1967 Hanna-Barbera version of The Fantastic Four and Green Lantern as part of the Filmation-produced Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Grade: B.
23. The Brain-Killer Affair. (3)
Original airdate: March 8, 1965
Writer: Archie Tegland Director: James Goldstone
This was one of the earliest filmed episodes. Note that Solo’s gun isn’t the UNCLE Special that would become common in the second half of the season. Elsa Lancaster, who once played the Bride of Frankenstein, dons similar makeup as Thrush’s Dr. Agnes Dabree. Yvonne Craig appears as the innocent and can she scream. Abraham Sofaer plays one of Waverly’s fellow members of Section One who jets from India to New York when Waverly is poisoned. Taut Archie Tegland script and James Goldstone direction move story at a brisk pace. Ending sets up a sequel that, unfortunately, would never be produced. Stock music is by Goldsmith solo this time. Grade: A.
24. The Hong Kong Shilling Affair. (25)
Original airdate: March 15, 1965
Writer: Alan Caillou Director: Alvin Ganzer
Glenn Corbett appears as a male innocent. Title refers to a coin people are killing each other for. William Tuttle gets a special makeup credit for disguise he crafts for David McCallum. As IK takes bald wig off, his hair looks oily, but when he’s finished his hair is dry again. Corbett actually injured himself during fall shown in Act IV. That’s why his character lays on the ground, off camera, for rest of sequence.
Gavin MacLeod appears as a villain and Richard Kiel is a thug who gives Solo the business. Besides Kiel, another actor from the pilot episode shows up: Joe Perry who plays a courier who gets killed in Act I. Perry had played one of the Thrushmen who invaded U.N.C.L.E. HQs in The Vulcan Affair/To Trap a Spy. Irene Tsu appears as a receptionist at U.N.C.L.E.’s Hong Kong office. She made guest star appearances in many 1960s and ’70s series and would return to U.N.C.L.E. in the third-season two parter The Five Daughters Affair.
At the start of Act I, Solo appears to be standing on the deck of the prop boat featured in the MGM musical Show Boat. Stock music is by Stevens solo, relying heavily on his score for The Yellow Scarf Affair. Grade: B.
25. The Never-Never Affair. (26)
Original airdate: March 22, 1965
Writer: Dean Hargrove Director: Joseph Sargent
One of my favorite episodes, and the UNCLE writing debut of Dean Hargrove. The innocent this time is Mandy Stevenson (Barbara Feldon), an UNCLE translator who yearns for excitement. NS sends her on a fictious mission (in reality she’s getting Waverly more pipe tobacco). By mistake, she’s given a microdot with key information about Thrush. French Thrush leader Victor Gervais (Cesar Romero) is in hot pursuit. The many highlights include an UNCLE-Thrush shootout in a movie theater and NS, tied up in a chair, improbably shooting and wounding Gervais. Another professional job by director Joseph Sargent. In many ways, this story and its humor/action balance would serve as a blueprint for future episodes. Stock Goldsmith/Stevens music. Grade: A-Plus.
26. The Love Affair. (13)
Original airdate: March 29, 1965
Writer: Albert Aley Director: Marc Daniels
Another episode filmed early in the season and held till later. IK shows distaste for the flaunting of wealth at a Long Island party. Eddie Albert is Brother Love, supposedly a religious leader but really a Thrushman. Maggie Pearce, later Jerry Van Dyke’s co-star in “My Mother the Car”, is the episode’s innocent whose last name is Rolfe. Last original score of the season is by Walter Scharf. Grade: B.
27. The Gazebo in the Maze Affair. (28)
Original airdate: April 5, 1965
Teleplay: Dean Hargrove and Antony Ellis Story: Ellis Director: Alf Kjellin
The urbane George Sanders is G. Emory Partridge, who encountered NS and IK seven years earlier and was presumed dead. Partridge kidnaps IK as bait for NS. Jeannette Nolan is Partridge’s seemingly kooky, but deadly, wife. Generally enjoyable, with Dean Hargrove as a co-writer. IK gets NS in hot water with Waverly at the end. Stock Scharf score, with an uncredited Goldsmith and Schifrin snippets. IK utters a witticism (“bon appetit”) that would be used in two future James Bond movies and one Bond short story (see the 007 section of this web page for details). Grade: A-Minus.
28. The Girls of Nazarone Affair. (27)
Original airdate: April 12, 1965
Teleplay: Peter A. Fields Story: Peter Barry Director: Alvin Ganzer
NS and IK descend on the French Riveria in hunt of a rejuvenation potion. Unfortunately, Dr. Egret also is on the trail. The potion enhances a person’s ability to heal from injury. In a graphic demonstration, Miss Nazarone, a Thrush operative, is riddled with machine gun bullets yet survives. But, as we soon see, the potion has side effects. In a chase scene, Nazarone is driving a sports car, with scientist (Ben Wright) along for the ride against his will. Yet Wright looks like he’s laughing in some shots. The car chase scenes apparently were overseen by E. Darrell Hallenbeck, who is listed as second unit director. For one last time, we have a Goldsmith/Stevens stock score. Grade: B.
29. The Odd Man Affair. (29)
Original airdate: April 19, 1965
Writer: Dick Nelson Director: Joseph Sargent
Season closer has UNCLE consulting with former agent Albert Sully (Martin Balsam) about a dead terrorist. Sully forces his way into the case, much to the chagrin of NS and IK. Sully enlists aid of a woman (Barbara Shelley) he worked with during World War II. Eventually, the agents discover a band of terrorists. Mr. Zed (Ronald Long) hopes to unite the terrorists. There are hints of real-life politics; it’s implied Zed wants to forge an alliance with Communist countries. NS is wounded in Act III, leaving IK to carry on with Sully. In Act I, the terrorist Sully will later impersonate is played by an extra who is in almost every episode. Nice performances all around. Joseph Sargent directs the first of four consecutive episodes that stretch into Season Two. The stock music is by Stevens, though there are snippets of Goldsmith music. Grade: A.
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