"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!)

Monday, March 1, 2010

"The Prince of Darkness Affair, Part II" (ep. 4/5)

The comic (Kathleen Freeman's Mom at the diner), the annoying (Annie), the implausible (the endless line of exact twin Aksoy brothers), and the exciting (the rocket hijacking, among other things) all mix in Part II.

Illya's reaction to Miss Annie, silently dumping her onto the receptionist, is perfect . . . and shows a lot more restraint than most people would have.

Bradford Dillman's narcissistic Sebastian is quite a creation.   Clipped speech, a rigid worldview, "people" (read: manipulative) skills, fury when the slightest thing goes wrong, and no loyalty whatever to anyone but Sebastian.  A cleanliness fetish too; note his gloves, and how he wipes off his microphone in Act IV.

Julie London's Mrs. Sebastian is on screen so little, you wonder why she's there.  I think in the film version, she and Solo have a longer scene in Act IV?  Smart of him to fake her into calling Sebastian so that they can trace the phone line.  More good detective work earlier:  Solo spots the maker of the closed-circuit system, and Illya runs the lead down.  Both scenes remind us of the powerful organization behind our heroes.

Solo looks realistically dirty and banged up after he bails from his Valiant.

This is the first time in a while we've seen Illya in turtleneck, as he slides deftly into the theatre audience.  I question the organization of the Third Way, though.  With as many disciples as we saw in the theatre, you'd think somebody would have let something slip during the run-up to the big bang.   The way to do it would be to have most of the faithful in the dark while they sent in their money, and have only a small inner circle who know what the real plan is.   And when the Command was checking Sebastian out, shouldn't the activities (and obviously immense funding) of the Third Way have aroused their suspicions before they ever recruited him?

Peculiar indeed to see Solo with white hair.  No wonder the team leader, who saw him back on that Aegean isle, didn't recognize him --!

Rather silly of the Feds to put the rocket at the very end of the train!  Director Boris Sagal handles the entire rocket theft sequence well, however, giving it a sort of "How the West Was Won" feel, helped by exciting martial music (used again in Act IV) as Sebastian's cult members load the rocket into their truck.

What are Solo and the Third Way men playing?  Poker?  My notes from the CBN days say "pinochle," though I have no idea why.

Priceless, the double take that Illya does when he recognizes the white-haired Solo.  Ditto for the exasperated look Solo gives the fourth Aksoy brother at the end.  ("Not another one??!!??")

Why did the rocket blow up in flight?  Because Waverly had its controlling computers destroyed?   Personally I think he should have ordered them all carted to Command HQ in Los Angeles for study.

Turkey released Hugh and Ali on U.N.C.L.E.'s say-so?

Verdict: Despite some (well, okay -- a lot of) dangling issues and questions, it's just the sort of "big," world-spanning, fast-paced story that makes a colorful movie -- with a truly great tag exchange (below) that in just three lines encapsulates the entire spirit of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Memorable Lines:
Mom: "You're too late for breakfast.  And I ain't about to do any more cooking."
Solo (a murmur): "My misfortune."

Mom (grumbling): "'Turn on the set, Mom.'  'Keep a lookout in the back, Mom.'  'Keep `em covered, Mom.'"

Solo: "Anything new?"
Illya: "Not much.  A revolution in the Orient; a multi-million-dollar train robbery in England; five kidnapped scientists; and a plan to melt the polar icecap."
Solo: "Good.  I think I'll take the afternoon off."


ARH said...

FYI, the scenes in the movie version with Julie London weren't any longer. The only difference is that in the film version there was a man in her bedroom, under the covers and not wearing a shirt. He was there in both bedroom scenes.

Anonymous said...

Why not note the very PECULIAR change in the opening of the cliffhanger vs. the ending cliffhanger of Part 1. Far different things happen, foreshadowing imminent doom -- but miraculously, everything's different in the opening of Part 2.

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