"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!)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"The Seven Wonders of the World Affair, Part I" (ep. 4/15)

The penultimate episode . . . ah me, oh my . . .

Right at the start we plunge into a gunfight at Thrushman Webb's HQ.  It takes a while to figure out what's going on, but scripter Norman Hudis and director Sutton Roley are painting on a big canvas here, so we need to be patient.  In the meantime the story moves, and we get wonderful action shots like Webb's leap into the cockpit of Mrs. Kingsley's Jaguar E-Type.

At last, something we've wanted to see for so long: a regional U.N.C.L.E. officer, Grant, played here by Hugh Marlowe, with an exercise bike (?) in his office.  He's completely unimpressed by the two hotshots from New York, huh?

Margitta Kingsley and Mr. Webb don't seem to have much to do with the installation behind the meat plant.  They spend a lot of time lazing around Webb's red-carpeted office, smoking cigarettes and smiling suggestively to each other.  Neat, though, when she plugs Mr. Veeth and Miss Carla from Thrush.  That's one way of eliminating pesky competition.

When Solo and Illya approach the ship with Anna Erikson on board, and the officer with the deck machine gun shoots at them, it would have been smart of them to simply hang back astern.  They'd have been shielded by the cabins and wheelhouse.

Another drunken ship captain, as in Hudis's Season Three "Bottle of Rum"!  One point, though:  He couldn't have touched the searing-hot barrel of the just-fired deck gun without burning his hand.  What happened to him and his crew when Kingsley and Erikson left the ship?  Also, where is the ship -- off Hong Kong?  If Anna was in Berlin, it would have made more sense for her to fly directly to the vicinity of Kingsley's Seven Wonders installation, and for her father to meet her there.

The disappearances of Kingsley's other six Wonders, and the theft of personal items, harkens back to "The Shark Affair."  Yes, why would you need a public-relations man?  Once the world's been made docile, you won't have to convince people to buy, prefer, or vote for anything.  You'll just tell 'em what you want 'em to do.

Smart, and pro-active, of Solo and Illya to co-opt Dr. Garrow.  Unfortunately Kingsley sees through their plan.

The sequence as Solo's plane is hit and he bails out, and then staggers across the high desert, is exciting.

Verdict: One of the most vividly photographed episodes, almost humorless, considerably different in tone from everything that's gone before. (Cf. "Mad, Mad Tea Party" or "Ultimate Computer.")

Memorable Lines:
Illya: "How do you inject dignity into the word `help'?"

Steve Garrow: "It's Mr. Solo's plane. He must be dead."
Illya (clearly upset): "Listen, if you don't have anything positive to say, why don't you just keep quiet?"

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