"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!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"The Hot Number Affair" (ep. 3/25)

Oh, dear, dear, dear . . .

Kazoos on the soundtrack?  "The Beat Goes On," and in practically every scene in which Sonny and Cher appear together, a Sonny and Cher song?  Are we watching "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," or an early example of product placement?

Despite the horrible distraction of the kazoos, early on, and the S & C melodies throughout, the teaser has potential.  The scene in France's dingy apartment/studio as Buuder and his henchman threaten him, and Solo and Illya's little scene with the grumpy manager, are effective.  So, later, is the scene in Waverly's darkened office with Solo inspecting the details of the dress in the news article.

The concept that Thrush would commission a dress to encode their secret report is so far off base that . . . well, you come up with a simile or metaphor; my brain is too tired.

Why would Illya be upset when Solo suggests that he, Illya, pose as a fashion designer?  Illya did it himself back in "Deadly Decoy."  Perhaps, off screen, Solo has kidded him about it for the last two years, and Illya's had enough.  Though we now know Illya decided to make that a second career after leaving the Command!

Joe Mantell comes across as a better villain here than he did in "Indian Affairs," a nasty little fireplug of a Thrush, willing to use a hot iron on two helpless old men.  And Ned Glass and George Tobias (neighbor Abner on "Bewitched") are funny, two I've-seen-it-all-in-ladies'-dresses wholesalers who've never hit it big until now.

Why does Harry ask if Illya is Japanese?  Not only (as he says later) does Illya not look Asian, no one has mentioned any connection with Japan before that moment.  Since we get the bit where Illya bows and says "Hai!", I suspect there was a line in the original script that was cut.

Worse than that is Illya's walking into Buuder's shop after he's seen the tall dark henchman, Hardy -- who was there at Agnes Sue's.  He'd know he'd be recognized.  And while the nasal phone operator, and the comic routine about Andros, Zapata, and Bellport, are funny, they seem far out of place.

Watching this, you'd never know that Cher would develop into an acclaimed actress twenty years hence.  She seems to drift through her scenes as if programmed.

Gems found among the dross: Solo and Illya using hand signals with each other before jumping the Thrushes; Illya speaking, hilariously but with no logic whatever, in a "Japanese" fashion; at 42:57, the "get ready" look that passes between the agents as they prepare to outmaneuver Jerry; and Illya's gymnastics on the dress rack, followed by the much-discussed revelation that he went to "the University of Georgia, in the Ukraine."

Verdict: With pedestrian direction (surprising from an old hand like George WaGGner), this is in some ways worse than "Gorilla" and scores below "Abominable Snowman."  At least the latter had danger and some exotic flavor.  As much as I hate to say it, "Batman" was (sometimes) better.

Cute Lines:
Illya (murmuring to Solo): "'Mr. Kuryakin of the Goldwood chain'?"
(Solo clears throat)
Illya: "Oy."

Harry Parkaginian (to his partner): "You wouldn't know a hot number if it jumped off the rack and hit you on the nose.  You kept us out of knits, we missed the pants suit, the Sonny and Cher look passed us like a shot!"

Solo: "Is [Buuder] involved?"
Illya: "If he isn't, he's awfully hostile toward freelance designers."

Ramona (as Solo and Illya hurry toward her door): "What are you two, some kind of a team?"
Solo and Illya (together): "'Bye."


ARH said...

Hey, don't dis "Batman"! It was a great show. But not every show should try to be Batman, as this horrible, horrible episode demonstrates. It was an ordeal to watch, and even nearing 50 years after its premiere the people responsible for this episode should *still* be hanging their collective heads in shame.

Debbie said...

The current owner of the dress wore it at The Golden Anniversary Affair event. I wonder if she had it altered by a tailor shop?