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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Espionage > Action > Secret Agent > Adventure > TV > Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – The Fifteen Years Later Affair (1983/CBS DVD)

Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – The Fifteen Years Later Affair (1983/CBS DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: C-     Telefilm: C+



The last great wave of Spy fiction on TV and film began in the mid-1970s, caught a wave of new blockbuster success and peaked in 1983.  While most of the TV series had folded, two James Bond films (Octopussy, Never Say Never Again, both reviewed elsewhere on this site) opened within only months of each and one other classic espionage series was back for what was hoped would be a new series of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with original leads Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.  With the major sales success of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. DVD box set, CBS DVD has finally issued Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on DVD.  For those unfamiliar with the original series, you can read more about it here:





Both actors had been on other series of note that may not have lasted as long (The Protectors for Vaughn, the brilliant Sapphire & Steel for McCallum, both reviewed elsewhere on this site) among other work, so they were more than capable of holding their own.  With U.N.C.L.E. leader Alexander Waverly gone (actor Leo G. Carroll had passed away a while ago), writer/reviver Michael Sloan signed Patrick Macnee of The Avengers to play his successor, Sir John Raleigh, taking the job just in time to see the old THRUSH organization try to make a comeback as a nuclear threat.  Anthony Zerbe, Geoffrey Lewis and Keenan Wynn bring weight to the bad guy roles in the tradition of the original show’s knack for featuring great character actors.  Gayle Hunnicut (who did the big two-part Return Of The Saint tale that was edited together as a feature) is the female lead here and George Lazenby makes a not so subtle appearance as “J.B.” but with an Aston Martin DB% and not the DBS he had in his lone Bond outing.  They may have even asked Stephanie Powers back as April Dancer aka The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., but she was on her own hit TV show, Hart To Hart.


Sloan’s script has the right idea and Ray Austin direct this well, but the big problem here is that this project cannot decide as to whether it should go for action or comedy.  Throughout its five seasons, the show shifted around more than even I had remembered, but the makers thought they could capitalize on the Roger Moore era and its commercial success.  CBS did not see it that way and did not pick this up as a TV series ands though Moore’s era would end with one more film, CBS would later regret as both leads moved onto more hit TV.  Vaughn became a Waverly figure in several hit shows and currently is in his biggest hit since U.N.C.L.E. with Hu$tle, while McCallum also did the Waverly thing often and became a cartoon voice.  Sloan did soon deliver The Equalizer for CBS, but they could have had two hits instead of one.


With that said, it can be a fun watch and the actors are clearly having a good time overall.  Fans can really enjoy it and anyone who bought that box set should catch it at least once.  Many thought this would be in the set, but here it is and it turned out to be a farewell to Spies past that never get the credit they deserve.



The 1.33 X 1 color image looks good for its age, with decent color throughout and Fred J. Koenekamp (who lensed several of the classic shows) returned as Director of Photography here and it shows to its advantage.  I just wish there was more detail, but this looks like a new print.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is transferred at a lower volume than I would have liked and the underrated Gerald Fried (who composed music for the original series) returned here.  Too bad the sound is troubled.  The only extra is a long preview to promote the telefilm.


For even more U.N.C.L.E., check out this limited edition CD soundtrack:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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