"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!


Update, August 2015: Henry (Superman) Cavill and Armie Hammer look good in the official trailer and posters! The Guy Ritchie-helmed movie premieres on August 14th!

(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, February 18, 2010

"The Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum Affair" (ep. 3/19)

From Norman Hudis, who would later give us two of the best (including the last episode) in Season Four, this Illya-centered story is fun.  Since there are no pirates in it, a better title would have been “The Star to Steer Her By Affair” or “The Tall Ship Affair.”  However, Captain Morton the Masefield fan makes one of the most colorful innocents to show up this year.  “Bottle of Rum” also features the best-wrought dialogue since “Candidate’s Wife.”

Like his Marcus Rudolph, the cowardly, raffish thief in Season One, Dan O’Herlihy’s Morton is vividly realized.  The dynamic between Morton and Illya makes for sparks; each displays unspoken respect for the other, and Morton even declares that he thought of Illya as a son. 

Also on the mark: Morton’s moment with the head Thrush, when the well-dressed thug doesn’t know who John Masefield was, and Morton closes his eyes in pain as if to say, “The Philistines I must deal with --!”  Though I think the scene should have ended there, not with Morton explaining who he was.

The below-decks ship environment is well done; it looks greasy, paint-scabbed, battered and lived in.  In wild contrast, the Hong Kong Command office Waverly is using looks like a hotel suite!

“Aha, 99!  The old 'One of our men resembles and impersonates one of theirs’ trick!”  At least this time the producers didn’t have Prof. Powers look almost exactly like Solo.  There’s a resemblance (sleek dark hair, dark brows, prominent jaw, well-dressed) that would match up in a thumbnail description, but no more.

I don’t really think that engineer Scotty is a parody of, or even a nod to, our now-beloved Scots engineer on the then-new “Star Trek.”  There’s a long tradition in English fiction and poetry of having a ship’s engineer be Scots (inspired, no doubt, by the large number of real-life ship’s engineers who hailed from Scotland), and naturally McPherson’s nickname among the crew would have been “Scotty.”  That this Scotty is “in love” with his ship’s engines does resemble Trek’s Mr. Scott.  However, that trait of his came out gradually, and wouldn’t have been so obvious to viewers of Trek by this point, only midway through Trek’s first season.

Needed:  A line of dialogue from Illya explaining to Morton (and us) how he knows so much about a ship’s engine room that he can heroically shut off the steam leaks when the regular crew can’t.  Also, if Miss Janus is going to bring Solo along on the plane, we need a reason why -- something he says he knows that they need to know, perhaps. 

Highlights:  Illya quoting Masefield’s “Cargoes” (I admit I had to look it up), and Morton calling the Thrush’s men “very petty officers.”

Why take a jet to rendezvous with a ship in midocean?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to fly in one of those “flying boats” that could land and take off on water?  Or if the budget wouldn’t run to that, perhaps a helicopter?  The coordinates given are in the South China Sea, close enough to Hong Kong. 

Wouldn’t it have been rather interesting to reverse the roles?  To have Solo stuck aboard Morton’s ship, and Illya impersonating the tidal wave professor?

Verdict:  Despite a poorly-handled climax on Solo’s side (let’s face it:  That plane crash would have killed everybody aboard), “Bottle of Rum” presents a plausible story with a dramatic, almost tragic Innocent.

Memorable Lines:
Morton (to Scotty):  “Get back to your engine, you haggis-bashing grease monkey.”

Morton:  “ . . . I am the captain.  And from the time of the Vikings down to this age of the atomic submarine, the captain is law, life, death, personified.”
Thrush Passenger:  “He’s in the hold.”
Morton:  “I don’t care if he’s in aspic!”

Hank (about Morton):  “We’ve got a skipper that’d make Captain Bligh look like a bleeding heart!”

Jenny (to Solo-as-Powers):  “We have time to . . . kill.”
Solo:  “Well, leave us not waste it.  Time and tidal wave wait for no man . . . or woman.”

Morton (to Illya):  “Swab [the deck] until it’s as dry as your wit.”

Illya:  “Hank -- do you have any explosives on board?”
Hank:  “Sure.  Cap’n Morton.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting bit of trivia: Dan O'Herlihy and Robert (Bob) DoQui would both go on to star in "RoboCop" some 20 years after this episode!