"No man is free who works for a living . . . but I am available." (-- Illya Kuryakin, "The Bow-Wow Affair")

These reviews/commentaries on the show's 105 episodes originally appeared in slightly different form on the Yahoo! Groups website Channel_D, from 2008 to 2010. If you're new to MfU fandom, these may give you some idea of the flavor of the series, which is still famous and beloved more than 50 (!) years after its premiere in 1964. Enjoy!

News: Decades Channel is running a "Weekend Binge" of MfU episodes on July 2, 2017. Check the schedule here.

(Except where otherwise noted, images are used with permission of the exhaustive site Lisa's Video Frame Capture Library. Thanks to Lisa for all her work!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"The Quadripartite Affair" (ep. 1/3)

A lively script that I don't think I saw in first run.   In about '83 or '84, someone brought a tape of this one to an SF convention, and jittery and poor quality though the tape was, I watched it avidly.   It was my first "new" "original" U.N.C.L.E. in 15 years.

Jill Ireland was the loveliest woman . . . and I've always loved Anne Francis.   Odd to see her play a baddie.  MfU fan Bill Koenig has pointed out that Caillou's vision of Ravel and Bufferton was as a modern Cleopatra and Antony; very apt.

I want to be Ivy League Solo, in his collegiate Harris tweed jacket and dark slacks, and the later Yacht Club Solo, in his double-breasted blazer with the crest on it.  If I ever get the chance to be reincarnated and can pick my body, I'll simply say, "As Robert Vaughn when he did 'The Quadripartite Affair.'   Oh, and can I have rich parents, too?"

This is Illya's first chance to shine.  He seems rather young and boyish, especially around Marion.  At least we get to see the fear gas at work; in the much later "Alexander the Greater," the will gas is nothing but a McGuffin.

That scene in Waverly's office in Act II is needs more visuals; it wouldn't fly today.  Otherwise, the script fairly hustles -- from Yugoslavia to HQ and then Marion's apartment in NY, Solo's daring daylight rescue of Marion from the yacht, then off to Yugoslavia again.

Richard Anderson's Col. Pattner seems awfully indecisive for a career military officer.   He spends a good deal of Act IV standing and staring around him.  Maybe the "Colonel" was a courtesy title, or maybe he didn't have much field experience.  Or maybe he's just not used to the kind of two-man assault force that is Solo and Illya.

I did wonder, however, how Illya and Marion escaped from the high-ceilinged room.  Illya could have boosted Marion up to Solo, but then how did Illya get up?  We saw no rope.  And then, we see Solo start to go back down into the room.  Why bring Illya and Marion up, if they were just going to go down to toss the fear gas among Pattner's men while making their escape?

Also, the Ravel/Bufferton/Pattner coalition has nothing to do with Thrush, but Pattner's men wear the jumpsuits and berets that are later associated with Thrush foot soldiers.

I understand the idea was floated of combining this one and "Giuoco Piano," both written by Alan Caillou, into a movie.  A tiny bit of bridging material, to show the passage of time while Solo and Illya search fruitlessly for Ravel and Bufferton, and we'd have been off to the races.

Verdict: When I want to show somebody what MfU was like at its best and most fully realized, I'll get him to watch this and "Giuoco Piano" back-to-back.  (Along with "Mad, Mad Tea Party," "Project Strigas," and "Fiddlesticks.")

Memorable Line:

Heather: "She [Gervaise Ravel] is classified as 'dangerous.'"
Solo: "A beautiful woman should always be so classified."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This really is not one of my favorite MFU episodes. It has its moments and certainly makes more plot sense than its sequel GIUOCO PIANO, but to me it just doesn't sing.

In some ways, I never understood why the "baddies" were after that silly and obnoxious Marion. After all, once U.N.C.L.E knew about the nerve gas, not like they needed to shut her up or anything. And Marion Raven to me is one of the really pain-in-the-brain innocents from the show.

There are some good scenes though: the scene when Napoleon finds Illya cowering from the gas is one of these. But on the whole this episode just doesn't get a top grade from me.