"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!)

Friday, March 12, 2010

"The Seven Wonders of the World Affair, Part II" (ep. 4/16)

"And now, the end is near;/ And so [we] face the final curtain . . ." The last episode of the series opens with George Fenneman, once Groucho Marx's announcer, summarizing the events of Part I.

More neat visual shots here: the conference room with the Himalayan peaks in the distance; a focus on first Kingsley, then the General, up through the glass table, so that the telephones seem to float in mid-air; again Kingsley's vast installation, invoking Shangri-La in "Lost Horizon"; the white-robed acolytes peering down at Solo.

Erikson's daughter Anna is a step above a lot of the blonde Innocents we've seen.  Despite our being told she's a teenager, she seems older and more mature, at least in the scenes at Kingsley's installation, and is level-headed enough to shoot one of the white robe guys.

The scene where Solo attempts to convince the other experts to bail on Kingsley's plan is remarkable for the series.  Like Captain Shark,  the antagonist is not an evil monster, displaying his grandiose plan to Solo as a prelude to killing him.  Kingsley the deluded idealist is trying to win Solo over to his side.  It gives writer Hudis a chance to bring up some ethical questions.

As sometimes with the two-parters destined to be movies, though, we get very little actual time for Solo and Illya.  I'd have liked to hear them talking in the guest quarters before Kingsley's men take them out to be gassed.  Here, even more than in "Bridge of Lions," they seem like minor figures dwarfed by the titanic events roaring over their heads.

Something about the way Kingsley's and Erikson's hands scrabble over the white buttons on their control panel is almost funny -- which I'm sure the actors and director didn't intend.

Thankfully, the voiceover -- "The seemingly endless battle against evil . . . the battle ends once and for all in favor of good" -- that introduces the final scene is a quote from Kingsley to Solo, spoken earlier, as if Solo is remembering.  Having a nameless narrator tell us this would have been awkward and confusing. 

Verdict:  Though a weak entry, vastly unlike any previous story, it makes a definite statement about the nature of man and leaves us with powerful images: the shattered control dome at 49:21, looking like a Forties cover for Astounding Science Fiction; the General an expressionless robot, waiting for orders (and reminding us of what humanity has escaped); the corpses in the control room; Kingsley tenderly arraying the body of the wife who has betrayed him . . .

Memorable Lines:
Kingsley: "General, you are a strange mixture.  You pursue a merciful ideal . . . mercilessly."

Solo: "Your plan denies humanity its freedom to find its own way to better times. . . .  Professor Garrow, you're a geneticist.  Your life work is the biological improvement of man.  Will you pervert that science into the creation of a -- a generation of robots?"

Kingsley: "Join us, leading a new world.  Let there be eight wonders."
Solo: "In your new world, Kingsley, there won't be any wonder."

Margitta (to her husband): "Don't look so startled, Robert.  Where else did you think I raised a hundred million dollars?  An overdraft at a drive-in bank?"

Margitta: "Humanity is dirt.  And it always will be."

General: "And don't call me Shirley."
(Oops, wrong movie --!)


CP said...

Ah yes, the bittersweet finale. Like you said, this episode (or two-parter) is completely different in tone from the rest of the series. Interesting that, at the series' last breath, the show takes off in this direction. This was the first episode from the fourth season that I saw (courtesy of the MGM/UA VHS tapes from 20 years ago), and it took me by surprise. I had to go and watch "The Deadly Toys Affair" or something to, in essence, "wash my hands of it." I think Richard Shores' haunting score has a lot to do with it. This is one I can only watch when I'm in the right frame of mind. SO dark...so haunting. What a way to go...

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