"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!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"The Fiery Angel Affair" (ep. 4/9)

This, from a writer (John W. Bloch) we haven't seen since "Neptune" in Season One, is colorful, fast-moving, and features a tricky plot and characters modeled on the Perons of  Argentina.  (I can see it now: "The Fiery Angel Affair -- the Musical!")

Our Innocent this time, Angela of Querido, is essential to the plot.  Madlyn Rhue as usual is effective, not heavy on the Latin accent.  Her Angela, we're told, was "a dancing girl from the streets," as Eva Peron was a film and radio actress, and is beloved by the people of her country, as Eva apparently was.  In the same line, her husband Abaca, a military man like Juan Peron, presides over a country clearly riddled with graft and corruption.  Thrush is in there pitching as well, eager to grab Querido's oil.

Joe Sirola's Abaca is well done.  His rattled-off Spanish phrases sound authentic, as does his Latin-accented English ("How can my own brother be so estupid?" and "You need no' be concerned").

If the storytelling has a flaw, it's that there are so many factions.  Angela, Abaca and his brother, the Secret Three (occasionally, and confusingly, called "the junta"), and the unseen threat of Thrush -- it gets a little complicated.  Of course, whenever I'm inclined to grump this year about a plot that's too complex or a tone that's too serious, I remember "Matterhorn," and all is sweetness and light again.

Rather odd that the bulletproof car would explode, not when the engine starts, but as it drives away.

Illya seems quite pleased with himself for his high-handed kidnapping of Angela, and for covering his tracks.  At the same time, Solo seems disgruntled and unhappy with the entire mission.

It would have worked better if the Secret Three had worn masks under their cowls.  The light is dim, but their faces and voices are recognizable.  Vinay's ring is so obvious it seems like a red herring, though it's not.  Nor is it very bright of their men to place high explosives next to hay!

Some more good detective work by Solo, as he goes undercover to get himself into the local jail and thence to the Secret Three, and some solid strategy ("If you're after the Three, get the Three, not the one").  We also get good deduction by Illya as he realizes that Abaca must be behind the attempt on Angela.

Illya makes a bad mistake when he underestimates Angela and lets her slip a message out.  When Waverly reprimands him and takes him off the case, Illya does not argue or try to evade.  I'm reminded of the Robert Conrad vehicle "A Man Called Sloane," a decade or so later, in which Sloane and his sidekick frequently double-talked and outmaneuvered their superior, played by Dan O'Herlihy.  In contrast, Waverly is clearly The Boss.

I love that red-lit reflection of Waverly's face in the computer screen as he gets ready to lower the boom on Illya.  Earlier, too, we have a couple of neat shots as Solo moves past the camera, and it shoots up past him into the sky.

Were the thugs attempting to kill Illya and Angela in Switzerland, or in Querido?  If the former, they got back to Querido in time to save Solo awfully fast.

Verdict: Lacking a strong climax, it's no classic like "Deadly Quest" or "Summit-Five"; but our heroes are smart and professional (and fallible).

Memorable Lines:
Cab Driver: "Imagine, senor!  It is Angela's birthday, and she gives to us a present!  A, uh, a courthouse!"
Illya (dryly): "Every capital city should have one."

Solo (guying Illya about his newfound celebrity): "Bullfighters are out and Kuryakins are definitely in."

Abaca: "You spoke with [the Secret Three].  You must have some clues."
Solo: "Mm-hmm.  One, a ring the size of an egg, in the shape of a bull's head . . . with ruby eyes."
Abaca: "Are you sure?"
Solo: "Well, it wasn't the kind of ring you'd find in cereal boxes."

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