The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – The Complete Series
Collection (Time-Life/Warner Home
C+Sound: C+Extras: B+Episodes: B
Britain seems to own the Spy genre, there is a more active U.S. heritage and
history in this kind of storytelling than many may realize.Long before Jason Bourne, the U.S. Government
formed the real-life O.S.S. during WWII, which led to the C.I.A. and the idea
of spying reached frenzied heights of government propaganda in the 1950s with
The Red Scare, a cycle of films and books to match, plus spies in many a war
film, whether fact, fiction or both.The
next leg came in on what we might call The Kennedy Wave.
Kennedy listed From Russia, With Love as one of his favorite books,
permanently cementing Ian Fleming and James Bond into world pop culture (along
with the great film series forever).While British TV was having hits with The Avengers, Secret
Agent/Danger Man, The Saint and
similar shows, U.S. TV would come up with their equivalents.The two shows that most showed the signs of
the Kennedy spirit were I Spy and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., both of which
have not been as well-remembered as they should be in the least.
While I Spy became a feature film atrocity in
1999, it marked one of the worst films Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke
Janssen, Gary Cole, Malcolm McDowell (yes, worse than Caligula!) and director Betty Thomas will ever make.The even added a hyphen (I-Spy) as if they were clever.However, the show has barely been seen and DVD releases have been basic
and uneventful.It has been worse for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which has only
been broadcast on cable stations occasionally (less since Ted Turner was bought
out) and has never arrived on DVD at all.
Time-Life and Warner have decided, after a strange legal dispute with another
major company, have decided to issue The
Man From U.N.C.L.E. - The Complete Series in a 41-DVD box made to look like
a briefcase.As pictured above, the case
has all four seasons in their own DigiPak books with translucent slide cases
and two bonus DVDs in paperboard envelopes.Loaded with so many extras that it is a classic DVD release up there
with the Alien Quadrilogy, The first
season is generally available, but the whole set is exclusive to Time-Life
direct orders until sometime in 2008.
ran four seasons of hour-long shows that did very well for the original MGM,
including the common practice at the time of editing episodes together and
releasing them in movie theaters with surprisingly good box office results
capitalizing on the hit Bond films.Many
know that Napoleon Solo was a character originally created by Ian Fleming in
the book Goldfinger and after the Bond producers were unhappy with the
idea of a direct TV Bond, Fleming sold the charter to the producers for one
dollar (or was that pound) and the rest is history.
Vaughn played Solo, David McCallum played his partner Illya Kuryakin and
Hitchcock veteran Leo G. Carroll (Spellbound,
North By Northwest) played their
boss Alexander Waverly.They worked for
an organization that may or may not have been involved with the United Nations
and at least seemed hooked to U.S. intelligence, but having a good Russian Spy
in Kuryakin at the time was a shocking twist to the show, but one the fans and
audience loved.United Network for the
Command of Law Enforcement is what the initials stood for.
season was different in tone and approach, with the first being the most
serious and the only one in black and white.The second went to color (with the show remaining color henceforth) and
upped the energy and pace.The third was
the most comic, playing on pop culture, Pop Art and the success of the hit TV
series Batman.The fourth returned to serious form, produced
some of the best episodes of the series and was shockingly cancelled despite
being such a cash cow for MGM and NBC.No other network picked it up and in addition to the premature end of
the spinoff series The Girl From
U.N.C.L.E., the axe fell.
many other spy series and feature films continued to do well into 1968 and it
seems in retrospect to be a big mistake.The episodes of the four seasons are below, all 105 shows, with key
guest cast members and occasional notes on other contributors:
1)The Vulcan Affair (guest stars Pamela Crawley, Fritz Weaver & Ivan Dixon)
18)The Yo-Ho-Ho & A Bottle Of
Rum Affair (guest
stars Dan O’Herlihy & Bob Duqui)
19)The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair (guest stars Joseph Sirola, Ted
Cassidy & Fritz Feld)
20)The It’s All Greek To Me Affair (guest stars Linda Marsh)
21)The Hula Doll Affair (guest stars Pat Harrington &
22)The Pieces Of Fate Affair (co-written by Harlan Ellison; guest
stars Sharon Farrell, Grayson Hill, Richard Collier & Jack Perkins)
23)The Matterhorn Affair (co-written by David Giler, later
of the Alien franchise; guest stars Bill Dana, Vito Scotti & Oscar
24)The Hot Number Affair (guest stars Sonny Bono as Jerry,
Cher as Ramona, George Tobias and Ned Glass)
25)The When In Roma Affair (guest stars Julie Summars,
Cesare Danova, Kathleen Freeman & Sid Haig)
26)The Apple-A-Day Affair (guest stars Jeanine Riley &
27)The Five Daughters Affair (in two parts; guest stars Herbert
Lom, Kim Darby, Joan Crawford, Curt Jurgens, Telly Savalas, Terry-Thomas, Jill
Ireland & Lindsay Workman)
28)The Cap & Gown Affair (guest stars Carole Shelyne,
Henry Jones, Larry D. Mann & Zalman King)
1)The Summit-Five Affair (guest stars Albert Dekker &
2)The Test-Tube Killer Affair (guest stars Paul Lukas,
Christopher Jones & George Savalas)
3)The ‘J’ For Judas Affair (guest stars Chad Everett,
Broderick Crawford & Mickey Gilbert)
4)The Prince Of Darkness Affair (in two parts/directed by Boris
Sagal; guest stars Carol Lynley, Bradford Dillman, John Dehner, John Carradine,
Julie London, Arthur Malet, Kathleen Freeman, Sid Haig & Mort Thompson)
5)The Master’s Touch Affair (guest stars Jack Lord &
6)The THRUSH Roulette Affair (guest stars Michael Rennie)
8)The Fiery Angel Affair (guest stars Madlyn Rhue, Joseph
Sirola & Perry Lopez)
9)The Survival School Affair (guest stars Chris Robinson &
10)The Gurnius Affair (guest stars Judy Carne)
11)The Man From THRUSH Affair (guest stars Barbara Luna)
12)The Maze Affair (guest stars William Marshall,
Anna Capri & Barry Cahill)
13)The Deep Six Affair (guest stars Alfred Ryder &
Diana Van Der Vlis)
14)The Seven Wonders Of The World
Affair (in two
parts; guest stars Barry Sullivan, Eleanor Parker, Leslie Nielsen, Tony Bill,
Dan O’Herlihy, Albert Paulsen, Ruth Warwick & Richard Bull)
those titles!In the case of the
two-part shows, they all became feature film releases worldwide, also taking
advantage of the big screen and the fact color TV was very new at the
time.Fans were particularly happy about
this development.However, throughout
the series, there were missed opportunities, as one of the supplements
confirmed as there were gadgets and devices never used or sued properly to best
dramatic effect.For the Piranha automobile,
it had devices the writers rarely used or did not know about at all because
someone did not tell them!
some moments awkward.
X 1 image on all four box sets is consistent, with the black and white prints
for the first season showing good detail.The color prints on the second season look rich, but in the later two
seasons, color can look a bit faded when it should be more vibrant.All the follow-up seasons and feature film
releases were processed in good looking MetroColor, all the shows were shot on
35mm film and you can see how impressive that is in many cases, but it is
particularly unfortunate in the third season trying to be like Batman that the color would not always
look top rate here.Since Ted Turner
took care of his vaults better than most in the 1980s, better prints have to be
in the vaults, which we will hopefully see by the time these are issued in High
Digital 2.0 Mono is good and because it is going through Time-Life, is not the
Dolby Mono 1.0 Warner is used to issuing, is better across all of the seasons.The loudness of the sound can vary more than
usual from episode to episode and the dialogue may be clean and clear enough,
but the music cannot match the sound on the CD soundtracks Film Score Monthly’s
FSM label issued in three volumes.The
third included The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.
and you can read about it at this link:
the theme song changed in each season too, for better or worse.The new extras are simple stereo and some
extras have backgrounds noise that is unavoidable.However, for a show its age, it sounds very
comparably good to other great filmed 1960s TV.
new bonus materials running ten hours including new interviews with Vaughn, McCallum
and many other key players in the making and history of the show, exclusive of David
McCallum's home movies, behind the scenes footage of Joan Crawford with Vaughn
& McCallum, 90 minutes of reunion interviews with Vaughn & McCallum,
vintage Vaughn/McCallum 1965 Emmy and Golden Globe Awards clips, McCallum on
The Andy Williams Show, the hilarious 1967 The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R. cartoon
made by Chuck Jones when he handled the Tom & Jerry series, trailers and
original promos, several rich stills sections, a rough print of the entire
feature film One Spy Too Many,
stills of rare U.N.C.L.E. toys and
collectibles (missing very few items,) the original pilot for the series titled
Solo - seen here for the first time
in color, informative collector's booklets for each season written by U.N.C.L.E. experts and nine featurettes:
Cloak & Swagger Affair: The Untold History of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The
Spy-Fi Tour: Archives, Art & Artifacts, Cold War, Hot Spies: U.N.C.L.E.
& The Cold War, MGM’s Secret
Operations, Guns, Gizmos, Gadgets and
Garb, Behind The Wheel: U.N.C.L.E.’s Piranha, Fandemonium, The Music From U.N.C.L.E.
and The Girls Of U.N.C.L.E. across the bonus discs in each season and the two
more on the history of their vehicles and the grossly underrated 1983 TV
reunion movie The Return Of The Man From
U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair are not here, but the extras are
so amazing, they outdo the show in sheer entertainment.That is not a bad thing for the show either,
proving U.N.C.L.E. has plenty of
life left in it, so much so that both Matthew Vaughn (no relation) and Quentin
Tarantino were openly boasting about getting ready to do an U.N.C.L.E. feature film revivals that
never happened.McCallum thinks it would
be a mistake, but in the hands of someone who loved the show, who knows.If this is successful enough, the TV movie
and a complete collection of the very entertaining The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. with Stephanie Powers and Noel Harrison,
will find their way to DVD.
years in the business, Carroll’s career wound down after the show ended and he
passed away in 1972.Vaughn moved on to
a key role in Peter Yates action classic Bullitt
(1968, reviewed on HD-DVD elsewhere on this site,) a moderate TV hit in the
British action series The Protectors
(also reviewed on DVD on this site,) a few great turns on the original run of Columbo, the cast of the disaster
classic The Towering Inferno, the
chilling computer voice in the underrated Science Fiction thriller Demon Seed, a strange run on the ever
strange The A-Team and enjoyed the
biggest hit of his career since U.N.C.L.E.
recently with another British series, Hu$tle
(also reviewed on DVD on this site) extending his winning streak.
and McCallum both repeated their U.N.C.L.E.
roles in an episode of the TV version of Please
Don’t Eat The Daisies years before the reunion telefilm.Producer Norman Felton produced the telefilm The Ghostbreakers, which did not launch
a hit series like it could have, though we have reviewed the soundtrack
elsewhere on the site.He moved on to
the short-lived British show Strange
Report and short-lived U.S. TV movie and series Hawkins On Murder, with Jimmy Stewart as a detective, with
soundtrack music also reviewed elsewhere on the site.Producer Sam Rolfe tired to make Mat helm in
to a TV series, but it did not work or take off.He did create the underappreciated Delvecchio, an episode of which just
hit DVD, with Judd Hirsch in his most underrated work.He also wrote on the similar detective show Kaz and before his passing in 1993, was
part of some of the hit Star Trek
spinoff series.Later series producer Mort
Abrahams was connected with the 1967 musical dud version of Doctor Dolittle (with Noel Harrison’s
father Rex, of the big hit Musical My
Fair Lady, singing again) before outdoing U.N.C.L.E.’s success by Associate Producing the first two Planet Of The Apes films, which became
another groundbreaking franchise.
had already made impressive appearances on the original Outer Limits and John Huston’s feature film of Freud (1962) before landing U.N.C.L.E.
and moved on to feature film (Sol Madrid,)
joined Vaughn on one of those A-Team
shows and made great appearances on great TV shows like Night Gallery, The Six
Million Dollar Man, Hart To Hart
and the celebrated TV event Frankenstein:
The Untold Story.Besides supporting
roles in recent, lesser TV hits that have not taken advantage of his talents,
he has not one, but two short lived TV series under his belt that became cult
hits.He was The Invisible Man in the 1975 – 76 version and was outstanding in
the innovative, groundbreaking Sapphire
& Steel with Joanna Lumley (The
New Avengers, Absolutely Fabulous)
that ended far too soon and is also reviewed on this site.
should give you an idea of the immense talent behind this show, and that is
just at the top of the long, unforgettable cast/crew list.
continue to discover and rediscover their impressive bodies of work and now,
you can see where the breakthrough all started.
miss this exceptional TV on DVD set, which you can order at this link:
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