"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!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"The Deep Six Affair" (ep. 4/14)

The last stand-alone episode brings back scripter Leonard Stadd ("Maze") and character actor Alfred Ryder, this time as the clever, tricky Commander Krohler.  "Deep Six" shows the series was really getting its legs under it and starting to take off again.

We open with Illya in Disguise as he shuffles in to retrieve those all-important submarine plans -- and there was something else, what was it?  Oh yes, save Solo and top English agent Brian Morton.  The flash dazzler Illya uses to get Solo and Morton out is great, as are his single-shot cane, their rescue by the chauffeur, and the squeals of horror from the London matrons as the Thrushes shoot at their fleeing Rolls.

Now I know a teeny bit about submarines.  The best atomic subs of those days in our world could only do about 20 to 25 knots submerged, and their depth limits were around 1300 feet. This 60-knot new one sounds like the Starship Enterprise-D in comparison; no wonder Thrush wants it.

Why is Waverly dealing with Morton's resignation and checking out (read: trying to torpedo) his relationship with Laura Adams?  Seems to me that's the job of either the London HQ chief (Morton's immediate boss) or the Continental Chief for Europe.  Certainly someone would have been appointed by now to take over for Harry Beldon.

Morton comes off as rather impressed with himself, worse than Solo by a long shot, but strong and determined to rescue his fiancĂ©e.  However, I can't see Waverly keeping him on, even in Antarctica, after what he's done.  If Waverly
was ready to detrain George Dennell ("Waverly Ring") for a much smaller breach of security, I'd think he'd have shaken Morton's hand and said, "Do let us know how you're getting on in your future endeavors."  (Yes, George's detraining was fake, but no one in that story seemed to think it was unwarranted -- which suggests it was standard procedure.)

This time out, the "What the heck is going on here?" occurs in Act I, as Illya, who apparently does not dislike cats, uses one to set up a diversion at the sub's shipyard.  (And just how did he retrieve Puss after the alarums and excursions were over?)

The moment in the hotel room when Solo balks at Waverly's instructions to delve into Laura's personal life, like the clash between them in "Concrete Overcoat," is startling.  Solo and Illya almost never question Waverly's orders.  It's a pleasant surprise, too, as in "Bridge of Lions," to see Waverly come prepared with an escape device.

The entire sequence in which Morton photographs the sub plans and outmaneuvers Solo and Illya is well done.  Not only is Solo not taken in by Morton, but Illya tumbles right away to Solo's bug-planting.  Smart stuff.

Morton drives one of the most gorgeous autos ever made, a left-hand-drive Mercedes 220SE or 250SE convertible.  We saw this one, or one like it, in "Round Table."  An expensive collector's item now, it wasn't cheap even then.  Unless he bought that beauty used, Morton must have some money of his own.

Nice that we actually get to see the sub everybody's been howling about.  It's roomier than the Seaview -- that bridge is huge.

The odd thing about this story is that, in the end, there is no Innocent.  Laura appears to be one until the end of Act III, when she reveals herself as a Thrush.  Perhaps this is one of those odd cases, as Dr. Cindy has mentioned, where one of the agents, in this case Morton, moves into the Innocent role.

Verdict: A fast-paced pure spy story, with a McGuffin that recalls the Sherlock Holmes story "The Bruce-Partington Plans."

Memorable Lines:
Brian Morton (dryly, to Commander Krohler): "Undoubtedly your man got caught in the London traffic.  It may be days before he arrives."

Solo: "Did you know I was the top U.N.C.L.E. agent in North America?"
(Cute -- but as Section Two, Number One, of course he would be considered the top agent!)

Waverly: "[Mr. Solo] has intelligence, verve, physical prowess; a kind of man most women would find very attractive."
Solo: "I thank you, sir."
Waverly: "But probably the worst possible candidate for marriage."
(Solo's discomfited look:  priceless)

Illya (to Solo, as they sit alone in Waverly's office after the latter says that Command agents make poor marriage material): "We have each other. . . ."
(This would have made a good last line for the entire series!)

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