U.N.C.L.E.’s second season was its most popular, the only year the show cracked the Neilsen top 20. Sam Rolfe departed. Executive Producer Norman Felton hired David Victor as a replacement. But the producer’s chair became a revolving door. Victor was promoted to supervising producer of all of Arena Productions. Two more men would have the title by season’s end, perhaps explaining why the quality of Season Two is more mixed than the inaugural campaign. Still, a strong season overall.
Credits for the season:
Executive Producer: Norman Felton
Supervising Producer: David Victor (Eps. 39-51, 53-59; no supervising producer for Eps. 52)
Producers: Victor (Eps. 30-38, 52), Mort Abrahams (Eps. 39-48), Boris Ingster (Eps. 49-51, 53-59)
Production Executives: Abrahams (Eps. 30-38; was listed as associate producer for the movie version of Eps. 30-31), Ingster (39-49, 52)
Associate Producers: George M. Lehr (Eps. 49-59) Irv Pearlberg (last few episodes)
Episodes are listed in the order they aired. Numbers in parenthesis are the order in which they were filmed.
All reviews © 1997-2017 William J. Koenig
30-31. Alexander the Greater Affair/One Spy Too Many. (33-34)
Original airdates: September 17 and 24, 1965
Writer: Dean Hargrove Director: Joseph Sargent
My personal favorite episode. Rip Torn is outstanding as Mr. Alexander, meglomaniac billionaire whose personal idol is Alexander the Great. His goal to eventually duplicate the original Alexander’s accomplishment and take over the world. In this story, he’s simply trying to take over an Asian country as a starting point — and he will break each of the Ten Commandments to accomplish his goal.
Wonderfully witty Dean Harrove dialogue. “A million dollars really mean so much to you?” Alexander asks his ex-wife, Tracey (Dorothy Provine). “When it’s your only million dollars, yes,” she responds. Alexander is aided by a mentor, Mr. Kevon. Movie version has an opening that appears to be have been filmed after the TV episode. David Sheiner, as Alexander’s chief thug, breaks into rear of U.S. Army base as part of plan to steal “will gas” that breaks down an enemy’s will to win. Sheiner is clearly wearing a bald cap. Yet, after the titles (and through the rest of the story), his head is shaved. My guess is Sheiner had let his hair grow back (see Eps. 53) then filmed the additional sequence for the movie version.
The TV version has a scene missing from the movie version. The TV version shows that Alexander is keeping his parents prisoners in a rock quarry in Greece (a still from the episode is shown in Jon Heitland’s Man From UNCLE book and I’ve seen a copy of the original script confirming this). Debut of Gerald Fried as UNCLE composer and his score is excellent. Great gag in part I provides a clue about Alexander’s plans. As he talks to Tracey, Alexander is worshipping an idol and says, “So it shall be written, so it shall be done.” Scene in part II where Kevon makes a living mummy out of IK is a favorite of some women fans. Padded in a couple of spots, it’s still a lot of fun. Movie version has Yvonne Craig as an UNCLE woman reminding NS of dates he has no recall of. TV version was shown just once on NBC and never repeated. One of the original act titles in the TV version of part II was “Coffee, Tea or Milk?” In the end scene of the movie version, note how the champagne in the glasses of NS and IK seems to change throughout the sequence; at first the glasses are close to empty, then they’re full without benefit of a waiter dropping by. Grade: A-Plus.
Behind the scenes: In the early drafts, a Prince whom Alexander is trying to compromise (by trying to seduce his wife) does not appear in a part I scene where Solo and Alexander are playing chess (on a chessboard large enough that real people “play” the chess pieces). But later revisions call for the Prince to appear and threaten Solo (who dances with the Princess after defeating Alexander in the chess match). The script also provides a bit more detail on the match itself. Solo opens with the Vienna Gambit, which Alexander derides as “rather pedestrian.” Also, a “matronly woman” flirts with Solo when she steps in to be the agent’s Queen on the giant-sized chessboard. “I’ll try very hard not to lose you,” Solo replies. She looks “somewhat hurt” at Solo when the agent sacrifices his queen in laying a trap that will defeat Alexander in the match. Hargrove’s script consistently calls for Solo to use a revolver rather than the UNCLE Special. The pre-credits version of part II (according to later versions of the script) opens with the “harried looking” Agent Farrell complaining to Waverly about the expenses Solo and Kuryakin have rolled up during part I. We then cut back quickly to the cliffhanger that ended part I. Alexander’s real name is Baxter. Part I, as originally written, showed Alexander’s parents working like slaves in the magnate’s Greek rock quarry (a violation of the Fifth Commandment, Thou Shall Honor Thy Mother and Father). They are rescued by Solo and Kuryakin. The sequence does not appear in One Spy Too Many.
More Behind the Scenes: As it turns out, the television version has not been destroyed. The original version does indeed include the scene with Alexander’s parents, played by Charles Seel and Madge Blake (who had a small role in Eps. 17 and who would shortly assume the role of Aunt Harriet on “Batman”). In that scene, Solo and Tracey are stunned by the plight of the Baxters. It is Illya who is first to react (“Let’s get them out of those chains.”), a nice bit of characterization. This leads to a great line for Solo, who tries to explain things to Alexander’s befuddled parents. “This is Illya Kuryakin,” Solo says. “He’ll pick your lock for you.” While the parents are edited out of the movie version, you can catch a glimpse of them during a car chase sequence at the rock quarry in Part I (blink and you’ll miss it). Agent Farrell (badge number 7) does show up at the start of Part II, complaining about the spending by Solo and Kuryakin on the current mission (“We have to hold the line somewhere.”). Some scenes are slightly different. In the TV version, more is left to our imagination concerning Alexander’s seduction of Princess Nicole (Donna Michelle). One bit of trivia: the title of TV version does *not* start with the word “the.” These are the only two episodes of the series to have this distinction. Finally, Mort Abrahams has the title of “production executive” in the TV version and “associate producer” in the movie version.
32. The Ultimate Computer Affair (30)
Original airdate: October 1, 1965
Writer: Peter Allan Fields Director: Joseph Sargent
Peter Allan Fields story, based on concept in Sam Rolfe’s 80-page series summary. Here, the Ultimate Computer doesn’t look that impressive, compared to what Rolfe described. IK infiltrates South American prison camp serving as Thrush base where the computer is stored. Retiring Thrush chieftain (Charles Ruggles) likes to play strip poker with his nurses Flora and Dora (they don’t get very far before being interrupted; this is 1965 television after all.). NS recruits Salty Oliver (Judy Carne) who inspects prisons for an international agency. She’s all prim and businesslike but that won’t remain the case with Solo nearby. Roger C. Carmel plays the head of the prison camp. Lalo Schifrin provides the score, his final UNCLE music. This was actually the first show produced for Season Two. Joseph Sargent directs, his fourth consecutive MFU assignment going back to end of Season One. Schifrin’s arrangement of the Goldsmith theme (used throughout all of the season) sounds somewhat similar to the “Mission: Impossible” theme Schifrin would write a short while later. Grade: A-Minus.
33. The Foxes and Hounds Affair (32)
Original airdate: October 8, 1965
Teleplay: Peter Allan Fields Story: Eric Bercovici Director: Alj Kjellin
One of the best episodes of the entire series. UNCLE and Thrush compete for a mind-reading machine developed by a magician killed by Thrush agents early in the story. Story shows how cold Waverly can be. He sends NS in as a decoy even though the agent hasn’t the slightest hint what he’s getting into. We’re told IK was in Kiev “as a little boy” during a demonstration of the mind-reading device. Reportedly, the story was originally written to have Victor Gervais (Cesar Romero’s character in The Never-Never Affair) as the lead villain (UNCLE listserver). But a new Thrush chieftain is used instead, in the person of Vincent Price’s Victor Marton. Price is excellent, particularly in his scenes with a rival Thrush operative. (“Have our little plans gone askew, Miss Belmont?”) Julie Sommars is fine as the “innocent” character, Mimi Doolittle. Excellent Robert Drasnin music score. Especially good is his theme during the pre-credits sequence and start of Act I where Marton’s agents first try to steal the machine. This piece of music would be re-used constantly during season two. Extremely witty Peter Allan Fields script, from a plot by Eric Bercovici. Many good one liners, including scene where Waverly motions to Marton that it’s time to be locked up. Marton protests Waverly is too good to do such a thing. “Victor,” Waverly says, “no one is all good.” Grade: A-Plus.
34. The Discotheque Affair. (35)
Original airdate: October 15, 1965
Teleplay: Dean Hargrove Story: Leonard Stadd Director: Tom Gries
Ray Danton is effective as Thrush operative Vincent Carver. (“I’d like to save your life, sweetheart. But let’s face it: I’m a heel.”) But it’s a little disconcerting to see Harvey Lembeck as his No. 1 aide, Tiger Ed. You half expect him to revert to being Eric Von Zipper. Most menace is shown by Mr. Oakes, a Thrush technician played by Eric Braeden, here listed under his real name of Hans Gudegast. The plot supposedly concerns UNCLE’s search for Thrush security records, though that seems secondary. In one fight, NS (who has an arm in a cast) throws his coat in the face of two Thrushmen. They fall over. Were there bricks in that coat? Also, it sounds like NS is firing sleeping darts in pre-credits sequence, yet we’re told later he killed a Thrushman he shot. Scripted by Dean Hargrove from a plot by Leonard Stadd. An original score by Fried. Grade: B.
35. The Re-Collectors Affair. (31)
Original airdate: October 22, 1965
Writer: Alan Caillou Director: Alvin Ganzer
Interesting non-Thrush story. The Re-Collectors supposedly are hunting Nazis who stole priceless works of arts. Theo Marcuse, in the first of two appearances this season, provides a suitable menace as the Re-Collectors’ executioner. But all is not what it appears. A good Alan Caillou script. Another fine Robert Drasnin score, much of which would be re-used when stock music was utilized. Grade: B.
36. The Arabian Affair. (39)
Original airdate: October 29, 1965
Writer: Peter Allan Fields Director: E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Probably not the favorite episode of the Arab Anti-Defamation League. Michael Ansara is OK as the leader of a tribe, but Phyllis Newman as his daughter? IK is tracking down a Thrush center in the desert developing a “vaporizer.” In reality, it’s a gizmo that spews out soap suds. The suds vaporize anything in their path, unless you’re wearing special “inter-molecular” Thrush suits. Sounds an awful lot like the “unstable molecules” Stan Lee used for the Fantastic Four’s costumes in 1960s Marvel comic books. We’re told Thrush kills employees when they retire at 65. NS and IK work separately until the very end of the show. Another script from Peter Allan Fields. E. Darrell Hallenbeck directs after being promoted from assistant director; he had directed the second unit (action sequences) of Eps. 8, 28 and 30-31. A good original Fried Score, supplemented by reused music from Eps. 30-31 in Act IV. Grade: B.
37. The Tigers Are Coming Affair. (38)
Original airdate: November 5, 1965
Teleplay: Alan Caillou Story: Paul Tuckahoe Director: Herschel Daugherty
Alan Caillou’s swan song as both MFU writer and performer. Here he plays an assistant to the villain (he would be a performer only in GFU). Episode also marks Jill Ireland’s return to the series, with a different character and a French accent. Unlike her first season appearances, she’s attracted to NS at the end. Score by Drasnin isn’t as memorable as his other UNCLE work. Grade: B.
38. The Deadly Toys Affair. (37)
Original airdate: November 12, 1965
Writer: Robert Hill Director:John Brahm
Unusually long pre-credits sequence is pretty exciting. A defecting Thrush scientist informs Waverly of a Thrush poison gas project. NS and IK are sent to destroy the Thrush base in the desert. Waverly tells NS bluntly how expendable the agent is. The scientist, however, flees UNCLE’s care to try and get his son back from a Thrush-run boarding school in Switzerland. Big mistake. Rest of the plot concerns UNCLE and Thrush’s attempts to get the boy, played by one-time Dennis the Menace Jay North. Angela Lansbury is hammy, but she’s supposed to be here. In pre-credits sequence, there are two extras playing UNCLE agents. One plays a Thrush guard later in the pre-credits sequence. The other plays a bartender in Act II, in a scene set at an airport in Switzerland. Stock music is by Fried, mostly recycled from eps. 30-31; there are uncredited snippets by Drasnin, originally composed for Eps. 33. Grade: A-Minus.
Behind the scenes: Jay North has fond memories of the filming of this episode. “It was a lot of fun, they were really nice to me,” North said 11/13/98. He said the pressure of performing here was much less compared to his 1959-63 work on Dennis the Menace. “It’s a different thing when you’re not carrying the show.” North remembered the title of the episode, the name of the director and all of the major cast members. “Bob Vaughn was really a great guy…He’s a nice man, kind of reserved. I enjoy seeing him when I go out do L.A. and do the collectibles shows out there.” He also said David McCallum “was a really nice guy.” The talk I had with North was very brief; he was signing autographs at a show in Indianapolis and was attracting a steady flow of people wanting autographed pictures of him as Dennis.
39. The Cherry Blossom Affair (40)
Original airdate: November 19, 1965
Teleplay: Mark Weingart Story: Sherman Yellin Director: Joseph Sargent
Plot concerns a Thrush “volcanic activator.” The innocent is played by France Nuyen, playing a Japanese filmmaker whose movie has been mistakenly switched with a Thrush film. Good balance of humor and action in Mark Weingart’s script. Japanese policeman informs IK that companies in his nation could make UNCLE communicators for half the price. France Nuyven is shown dubbing an episode of Norman Felton’s “Dr. Kildare” show into Japanese. One flaw: Waverly seems to be able to fly from NYC to Japan awfully fast. It’s Waverly, not NS or IK, gets the girl in the end. Another good directing effort by Joseph Sargent. Music by Fried. Grade: A.
Behind the scenes: Guest star France Nuyen, in a conversation on 5-15-99 at Chicago collectibles show, said the mood was terse during the filming of this episode. “Vaughn and McCallum weren’t talking to each other,” she says. Apparently this affected the mood of the set. “It was a very electric atmosphere. Normally on a set, you have kidding and joking. (Here) everybody was at attention.”
In real life: In the episode, a Thrush official in Japan is excited to hear that, “It just appears Sandy Koufax just pitched another no-hitter!” (It’s established in the episode that Japanese love baseball.) Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitched his fourth, and final, no-hitter in September 1965. On Oct. 14, 1965, Koufax pitched a shutout at in the seventh game of the World Series against the Minnesota Twins.
40. The Virtue Affair (41)
Original airdate: December 3, 1965
Writer: Henry Slesar Director: Jud Taylor
A non-Thrush story, relatively rare for the second season. Adversary is a descendant (and namesake) of Robspierre. He feels France has lost its virtue and he plans to blow up France’s vineyards with a nuclear weapon. Good scene where NS escapes a cell by using brain power instead of exotic UNCLE gadgets. Amusing scene where IK fakes being a scientist talking to fellow scientists. Scirpt credited to Henry Slesar, though Harlan Ellison reportedly did an uncredited “polish.” Where did the bodies go in the last scene? Stock music by Drasnin. Grade: B.
41. The Children’s Day Affair. (42)
Original airdate: December 10, 1965
Writer: Dean Hargrove Director: Sherman Marks
Dean Hargrove story about Thrush attempts to assassinate UNCLE leaders, an idea that would be recycled in eps. 90. Thrush has a school for budding assassins. The leaders of the school, Mother Fear (Jeanne Cooper) and Capt. Jenks (Warren Stevens) have an, er, interesting relationship. A gaffe: Jenks talks to NS through a window. We can hear Jenks talking but we can also see his reflection in the window and his lips aren’t moving. A torture scene involving IK was edited out of the version shown on CBN in mid 1980s. Click here to read a first-person account written by one of the child actors in this episode. Stock music by Drasnin and Fried. Grade: A-Minus.
Behind the scenes: CLICK HERE to read an account from a former child actor who participated in the filming of this episode.
42. The Adriatic Express Affair. (43)
Original airdate: December 17, 1965
Writer: Robert Hill Director: Seymour Robbie
We’re given a version of the origin of Thrush, though many fans prefer the David McDaniel version in an UNCLE paperback published in the 1960s. Jesse Royce Landis plays the head of a European cosmetic concern who is really a key leader of Thrush and even cliams the organization was her idea. Train fights are fairly exciting, though it would have been nice if the budget were a little higher. Is Robert Vaughn ad-libbing in end scene? David McCallum seems hardly able to contain himself, like he wasn’t expecting the line. Stock music by Drasnin and Fried. Grade: A.
43. The Yukon Affair (36)
Original airdate: December 24, 1965
Writer: Marc Siegel Director: Alf Kjellin
Sequel to Eps. 27, with George Sanders returning as G. Emory Partridge. Unfortunately, Jeanette Nolan isn’t around as the kooky/dangerous Mrs. Patridge. In pre-credits sequence, Partidge operatives attempt to assainate NS by dropping an incredibly heavy piece of rock on him (this was trimmed from the episode as broadcast in the mid 1980s on CBN). The trail leads to the Yukon. IK smirks behind NS’ back when Waverly informs the agents of their destination. Show drags on, isn’t as good as the original. Grade: B-Minus.
44. The Very Important Zombie Affair. (44)
Original airdate: December 31, 1965
Writer: Boris Ingster Director: David Alexander
CBN reportedly wouldn’t show this episode during the mid 1980s because of “un-Christian” content, presumably depiction of voodoo. TNT, however, has shown the episode. Claude Akins is actually quite good as El Supremo, corrupt head of a Carribean country. Witty script by Boris Ingster. Too bad he couldn’t find this level of writing quality when he became producer. Original score is by Fried. Grade: A.
45. The Dippy Blonde Affair. (45)
Original airdate: January 7, 1966
Writer: Peter Allan Fields Director: E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Not the best offering from writer Peter Allan Fields. Title refers to the so-called innocent Jo Jo Tyler (Joyce Jameson). NS is a ladies’ man but making out with the Dippy Blonde while IK is fighting for his life (in a rainstorm no less) at the climax of the episode seems a bit much. Robert Strauss, as a sexually repressed Thrush chieftain attracted to Jo Jo is oddly sympathetic. The best thing this episode has to offer is an excellent Robert Drasnin score. His music for action sequences would be repeated frequently when stock music was used later in Season Two. Grade: C-Plus.
46. The Deadly Goddess Affair (46)
Original airdate: January 14, 1966
Writer: Robert Hill Director: Seymour Robbie
Victor Buono, who seemingly played a villain in every 1960s adventure show, appears here as Thrush operative Colonel Hubris. During this same TV season, he was in the pilot for The Wild, Wild West as well as appearing in episodes of Batman, I Spy, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the only color episode of Perry Mason. He also co-starred as the primary villain in Dean Martin’s initial Matt Helm movie, The Silencers. Buono is OK, but Colonel Hubris isn’t quite as colorful as the villains he played elsewhere at this time. NS and IK go to an island to intercept some Thrush documents but run afoul of the local citizenry, including the sole police officer. I doubt Daniel J. Travanti (here listed as Dan Travanty) would list his hammy performance as the policeman here as a career highlight. Joseph Sirola is on hand as Hubris’ top flunky who’s a little too handy with a knife. An extra who appears in nearly every episode plays a Thrushman who knocks out NS with a rifle butt in Act. IV. The score by Gerald Fried appears to be a mix of original music as well as some stock compositions, especially in action scenes. Grade: C-Plus.
47. The Birds and the Bees Affair (48)
Original airdate: January 21, 1966
Writer: Mark Weingart Director: Alvin Ganzer
Excellent, taut story laced with the appropriate amount of humor. In pre-credits sequence, NS and IK enter UNCLE-Geneva (whose secret entrance is in a clock shop). All personnel are dead from killer bee stings. CBN edited out shots of dead bodies but TNT has shown the complete sequence. In what what I suspect was a move to save money, we’re told the bees are especially small. As a result, people flap at the air in scenes where they are supposed to be menaced by the bees. Still, it’s a good story. John McGiver plays his usual stuffy, insufferable villain. A gaffe: Kuryakin takes Mr. Mozart (McGiver) into a secret UNCLE entrance. Mozart wears no UNCLE badge at the beginning of the sequence but has one on toward the end. Also, Kuryakin wears a badge with the number 12 on it, instead of his usual 2. Stock music by Drasnin, but there’s a snippet (supposedly a record being played) from Fried’s score (“Jungle Beat”) in eps. 44. Grade: A.
48. The Waverly Ring Affair. (49)
Original airdate: January 28, 1966
Writer: Jerry McNeely Director: John Brahm
NS and IK act shocked in pre-credits sequence that Thrush has infiltrated UNCLE. (They must have short memories; see Eps. 18.) Title refers to ring Waverly entrusts to special operatives. Unless removed the proper way, the ring explodes. Nice performance by Larry Blyden, playing an UNCLE employee pressed into more-dangerous service (not unlike Barbara Feldon is Eps. 25). The stock score is by Drasnin. Grade: A.
49-50. The Bridge of Lions Affair/One of Our Spies is Missing. (50-51)
Original airdates: February 4 and 11, 1966
Teleplay: Howard Rodman Story: Henry Slesar Director: E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Second two-parter concerns a machine that reverse the aging process. Both UNCLE and Thrush, naturally, chase after it. Device was invented by professors played by James Doohan and Harry Davis. Maurice Evans appears as an aging, would-be Churchill who’s being manipulated by his power-huntry wife (Vera Miles). We catch a glimpse of the current Thrush Central (in Hong Kong), which looks similar to UNCLE headquarters in New York, with employees wearing badges. Part I moves at a crisp pace, but part II bogs down a little. Cal Bolder, an oversized thug in Eps. 31, returns here as another thug. The machine includes pieces of Robby the Robot. Stock music in the TV version is by Drasnin and Fried. The movie version has an original score by Fried but it’s awful (CBN showed the TV version while TNT has shown the movie version). Expanded footage in the movie version only bogs the thing down. Grade: A-Minus (part one), C-Plus (part two).
51. The Foreign Legion Affair. (52)
Original airdate: February 18, 1966
Writer: Berne Giler Director: John Brahm
Dreary story, gives us an idea of the goofy stories awaiting viewers in the third season. IK looks silly in pre-credits sequence. On the other hand, women fans probably don’t mind seeing IK in his underwear throughout Act I. There’s a gaffe in the pre-credits sequence: he identifies himself (in conversation with Waverly) as “Number Two of Section One.” IK has photographed a Thrush code that UNCLE needs but, to escape Thrushmen, parachutes (with a stewardess) from a chartered plane and lands in the middle of the desert. Berne Giler’s script has some jokes that work but others that fall flat. A one liner that is amusing is uttered by a Thrush woman who likes NS: “You not only like to enjoy the feast but you also like to take home the dishes.” Howard Da Silva is sympathetic as Basil Calhoun, who joined the French Foreign Legion but was never told it was disbanded. But Calhoun, while well-meaning, is a bit of a dolt. Really odd scene at end. NS arrives with help (after IK has subdued Thrushmen). IK gives him grief for coming “five minutes late” and NS just takes off. Surely there were better scripts available than this. A shot of a plane taking off in the pre-credits sequence is re-used from Eps. 31. Gerald Fried’s score is really bad; is this the same composer who did such a good job in Eps. 30-31? Grade: C-Minus.
52. The Moonglow Affair. (47)
Original airdate: February 25, 1966
Writer: Dean Hargrove Director: Joseph Sargent
Pilot for the Girl From UNCLE. NS and IK are incapacitated by Thrush radiation device. Waverly calls on 24-year-old rookie agent April Dancer (Mary Ann Mobley). The UNCLE chief also assigns aging enforcement agent Mark Slate (Norman Fell), who is actually past the age of 40, when enforcement agents are supposed to be assigned desk jobs. We’re told Slate “broke in” NS when Solo was a new agent. Kevin McCarthy is a bit over the top (as usual) as villain Arthur Caresse. Dean Hargrove script has his usual touches (a basketball team is celebrating a win, oblivious to Slate fighting Thrush scientist played by Woodrow Parfey). Obviously, executive producer Norman Felton felt major casting changes were called for before GFU went into production. Joseph Sargent drew the directing assignment and provides his normal good job. David Victor, who was promoted from producer to supervising producer with Eps. 39, returns to the producer’s chair for this one episode. Mobley’s April is relatively self-reliant (at least compared to some episodes of the GFU series) and Fell is fairly good in his role. Gerald Fried’s score is one of his best. Some of his “April” theme sounds similar to the score he later composed for The Return of the Man From UNCLE. Grade: A.
53. The Nowhere Affair. (53)
Original airdate: March 4, 1966
Writer: Robert Hill Director: Michael Ritchie
A surprisingly good variation on a cliche plot (hero gets amnesia). Diana Hyland is touching as a Thrush employee who has been selected to try and entice information of NS, who has taken an UNCLE amnesia pill. We’re told Thrush has thousands of operatives in the western U.S. alone. Also, it is disclosed that Solo read comic books as a child. The scene where Solo regains his memory is handled well (it occurs after he has started to handle a gun). David Sheiner, seen in Eps. 30-31 as Alexander’s henchman, plays a harried Thrush bureaucrat here. Strong performances all around, though J. Pat O’Malley as a prospector threatens to act too campy from time to time. Directed by Michael Ritchie. The music, by Robert Drasnin, is excellent. Grade: A.
54. The King of Diamonds Affair. (54)
Original airdate: March 11, 1966
Teleplay: Edwin Blum and Leo Townsend Story: Blum Director: Joseph Sargent
Title refers to a thief named Rafael Delgato played by Ricardo Montalban. An unusual, but mostly entertaining, episode, featuring band of criminals led by Blodgett (Larry D. Mann) who dress like Britains and talk like Italians. It’s implied heavily they are from the Mafia and disguised like Brits, but the closest we’re told about this is that they represent “the family” and that they are “first cousins” of Chicago criminals. Delgato, though in prison, has pulled off a stunning diamond robbery with Blodgett’s help. UNCLE enters the scene because so many diamonds are missing it could upset the world economy. A gaffe: The title of Act I is “Diamonds Are a Thrush’s Best Friend.” Thrush isn’t in the episode. At the end of Act II, IK is shot, yet after laying unconscious for a while, he seems just fine in Act III. In Act IV, IK also gets to re-use his disguise from The Ultimate Computer Affair. Maybe that’s because Joseph Sargent directed this episode too. Waverly gets the girl (Nancy Kovack) in the end. The stock score is credited to Robert Drasin but there is an uncredited snippet from Lalo Schifrin in Act II. Grade: B.
55. The Project Deephole Affair. (55)
Original airdate: March 18, 1966
Writer: Dean Hargrove Director: Alex March
Jack Weston plays a rare male innocent, Buzz Conway, who has trouble keeping a job and dabbles in gambling. Weston is pretty good in the role. Through a mixup, Thrush mistakes Conway for a scientist, encouraging UNCLE to use him as a decoy. Leon Askin as Marvin Elom (read the last name backwards), is doing deep drilling into the earth so he can start earthquakes. NS gets to wrestle with Narcissus Darling (Barbara Bouchet), a Thrush operative. Meanwhile, IK gets beat up, as usual. Dean Hargrove’s story is amusing, though not his strongest effort. The stock score is by Drasnin and Fried. Grade: A-Minus.
56. The Round Table Affair. (56)
Original airdate: March 25, 1966
Teleplay: Robert Hill Story: Henry Slesar Director: E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Odd, goofy episode, another sign of what would occur in Season Three. The story has an interesting premise: Mafia types have taken control of a small European country (Ingolstein, probably named in honor of now-producer Boris Ingster) that has no extradition treaty. But script veers off course from there and is a mishmash. Seeing Bruce Gordon as a gangster in a suit of armor may give you an idea this isn’t the best Season Two had to offer. The story was plotted by Henry Slesar and scripted by Robert Hill. The music is by Drasnin. Grade: C-Minus.
57. The Bat-Cave Affair. (57)
Original airdate: April 1, 1966
Writer: Jerry McNeely Director: Alf Kjellin
Perhaps Martin Landau remembered his performance here as Count Zark when, decades later, he was called upon to play Bela Lugosi in “Ed Wood.” Landau clearly is playing this for camp, but he’s a hoot as a Transylvanian-based Thrush operative. In the pre-credits sequence, a scene with IK in a bull ring reuses the same stock shot three or four times. Solo and the episode’s innocent (Joan Freeman as a woman who supposedly can read others’ thoughts) are watching “One Spy Too Many” (see Eps. 30-31) on a flight to Europe. Solo comments he dislikes spy movies because they’re so unrealistic. Just before this sequence, Waverly tells Solo (who is playing bodyguard at a NYC hotel to the Joan Freeman character) to catch the next flight to Vienna, which is leaving in 17 minutes. I doubt Solo could have caught that flight even if a helicopter were waiting for him on the roof! The scenes with bats are either stock footage or some mostly unconvincing plastic bats. The working title for this show was “The Night Flight Affair.” One suspects the final title came from the fact that the Adam West “Batman” TV show was at its peak of popularity. An OK original score by Fried. Grade: A.
58. The Minus-X Affair. (58)
Original airdate: April 8, 1966
Writer: Peter Allan Fields Director: Barry Shear
Eve Arden and Theo Marcuse are the bad guys working for Thrush and Sharon Farrell plays Arden’s estranged daughter. Despite the soap opera feel, a strong episode (by Peter Allan Fields) that probably should have been the season closer. Arden’s character, prominent scientist Lillian Stemmler, has developed “Plus-X” which heightens the senses and boosts intelligence. Professor Stemmler’s connection to Thrush is unknown to the public. She also has developed “Minus-X” which temporarily causes the mental capability of normal people to regress to that of children. Paul Winfield appears as a military guard exposed to Minus-X. Nice exchange between NS and IK. NS tells IK to inform Waverly that Solo had been run over by a “large truck.” Kuryakin (speaking into the pen communicator): “He was run over by a small truck.” Not the typical happy ending. UNCLE seems to be getting cheap; Waverly grouses about NS’ expense vouchers for ruined suits. The stock score is by Drasnin. Grade: A.
59. The Indian Affairs Affair. (59)
Original airdate: April 15, 1966
Writer: Dean Hargrove Director: Alf Kjellin
Definitely not for the politically correct. Thrush kidnaps Chief Highcloud, head of the Cardiac Indians in Oklahoma. This is to force the Cardiacs to cooperate so that Thrush can work on a mini-hydrogen bomb. Gaffes galore. In Act II, Chief Highcloud criticizes his daughter Charisma about her dancing (she does Indian-style dancing in bars as a way to pay for college in NYC). He’s facing Charisma and there’s a TV set in the background behind the chief. When we cut to a close up of Charisma reacting to this, the same TV is in the background behind Charisma. At the end of Act II, some Cardiacs have tied IK to stakes in the ground. Yet, IK somehow reaches over and pulls a gag out of his mouth. In Act I, Thurshman L.C. Carson (Joe Mantell) is talking to his chief flunky Ralph (Nicolas Colasanto, later Coach on “Cheers”). Carson pulls a flag into Ralph’s face. Carson then has a goofy look on his face as Ralph stares at him. Is this supposed to indicate that Carson is a fun guy, or was Mantell pulling Colasanto’s chain and they decided to use the shot anyway? Lots of Indian cliches. IK, running around with a black wig and in Indian garb in second half of show, looks silly. Probably Dean Hargrove’s weakest writing effort; definitely not a total loss, but he has done lots better. We hear an “Indian” version of “Meet Mr. Solo” at the end. We’re told UNCLE has an office in Tulsa. I would think UNCLE would be spread mighty thin if it’s establishing operations in a city that size. Does that mean the organization has branches in places like Cincinnati and Kansas City? The score by Gerald Fried is mostly original, but there is some re-used music from Eps. 30-31. Grade: C.
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