"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!)

Friday, February 5, 2010

"The Project Deephole Affair" (ep. 2/26)

This one has been a favorite of mine since the CBN days.  A crisp Dean Hargrove story that feels like a Season One, a real threat, fantastic villains (one of whom has a history with Solo!), and a refreshing male Innocent who is drawn into the story not only because he is a bystander, but also because he's a bit of a weasel.

A fast-moving teaser brings us to HQ's infirmary, where Illya, over Buzz's unconscious body, fills us in on Mr. Conway's sad history.  Jack Weston's Buzz is no criminal.  He's a "Guys and Dolls" figure, the horse player who is positive the next race will bring him the big payoff, who proves himself bright and brave when the chips are down . . . and yet doesn't change his ways once the adventure is over.

What I enjoy about Solo's plot to use Buzz as a decoy is that our guys are being proactive in leading Thrush down the garden path.  Is it unethical of them to drag Buzz into this?  Well, it's not as if Buzz turns himself in to the police when he finds the cash and fine clothes, and the "body" in the closet!  And, as Solo points out, they are protecting him by involving him.

The dynamic between Narcissus and sun-hating Marvin Elom (veteran character actor Leon Askin; you'll recognize him from "Hogan's Heroes") is interesting.  He drools over her; she clearly thinks of him as just a stepping-stone in her Thrush career.  For Narcissus, other people are only valuable as they enhance her image of herself.  You'd think anyone who is as obsessed with her own appearance as the Divine Miss N. wouldn't smoke.  Yellows the teeth, you know.

Narcissus brushes right by Illya at the SF airport.  He doesn't seem to know her (though she must know him, since later Thrush follows him to the garage rendezvous).  In that scene, though, Solo walks right by her!  He couldn't fail to recognize her; he dealt with her in Portofino in 1962.  Why wouldn't he mention her presence to Illya?

The "drone control" Narcissus uses to control the rental car with Buzz in it makes for an exciting sequence on the freeway.  Apparently Solo has encountered it before.  Or maybe the Command has similar devices? 

Another nice element here is the sense that Thrush has agents everywhere, at the garage and the seemingly-innocent lobby girl at the Elom Industries office building.  Not everyone is a Thrush, however; see the insurance guys who just happen to be in the elevator with Illya.  Thrush is not all-knowing or all-powerful, thank goodness.

Part of the earthquake footage must be from the 1964 Good Friday quake in Alaska; see "Anchorage" on one sign.  And Elom says his people created that carnage.  Brrr.  (I agree the drill isn't very convincing.  Maybe Elom & Co. are using quadrillenium drill bits instead of diamond.)

The quiet scene between Solo and Narcissus reminds me of Solo's tete-a-tete with Serena back in "Double."  But why does Narcissus agree to take Solo through the Elom security?  A line from Solo would have set it up:  "You'd best get me through.  If I fail, I won't be there to save your skin; Mr. Elom will think you betrayed him anyway; and missing your next pedicure appointment will be the least of your problems."  Personally I think he should clip her a good one on the jaw when she screams to alert Leon.

Verdict: One of the best adventures of Season Two, and on a level with many winners from Season One.

Memorable lines:
Illya (watching via video bug as Buzz awakes in the hotel room):  "Napoleon, I think it is time to deliver unto 'Dr. Remington' a change of apparel."

Solo: "How was the flight?"
Illya: "Second class."
Solo: "Snob."
(Free champagne on the flight?  It didn't look that second-class to me.  Illya's been spoiled by all this capitalist decadence!)

Buzz (as they drive on the San Francisco freeway):  "Isn't this a roundabout way of going downtown?"
Solo:  "I thought you might like to see our air pollution."

Buzz (exasperated):  "You've got a lot of nerve, y'know?"
Solo (serenely):  "Thank you."

Mr. Elom: "It's very appropriate that I use California, the land of sunshine -- where those disgusting people mechanically expose themselves to poisonous sunlight, in a foolish desire to fry their
skins brown."
(A villain with an emotional motive for his evil plot.  Neat!)

Buzz (dazedly, re: Solo and Illya): "Boy, they work fast."

Solo: "So you suppose [the finance company] will ever catch [Buzz]?"
Illya: "Probably.  Their manhunt procedures are modeled after ours, remember?"

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