Tag Archives: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The school prom

Prom 2

‘Send the proms back to where they came from,’ said one father at the school prom on Friday evening. He could think of five things he’d rather do than stand there waiting to take a picture of his daughter as she arrived at school in a limo. We were, luckily, just there to admire the dresses and take pictures.

Many 16-year-olds I no longer recognise, and especially not once the prom-dress and the hair and the make-up have transformed the person I once knew. Luckily you can identify some by their grannies, who look the same as they did six years ago. I stared at one mother until I worked out that we used to sit and wait in the swimming pool changing rooms during lessons, close to ten years ago.

Prom 1

The head teacher was out in white jacket and brandishing a camera, catching his students one last time, as they emerged from pink limos, horse drawn carriages, off the backs of lorries and some from a builders’ white van. The best were the bikers who came roaring along the quiet roads. Half a dozen grizzled motor bike owners, each with a teenager behind them. Cool. But not for girls with expensively done hair.

We went home and celebrated, if that is the word, with take-out pizza and Indian, and a double episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. I chose the very last two episodes, before the whole series collapsed in 1968. Really strange, even for U.N.C.L.E., and I’m not sure I got to watch it back then. Plenty of Illya Kuryakin, and we had Leslie Nielsen in weird mode, too. Thought the woman looked familiar, and she turned out to be the baroness from the Sound of Music.

Apparently this was filmed as a single episode, so some doctoring was necessary to make it twice as long. You could tell they had had to stretch things. You know, repeat the same footage over and over, long intro to part two saying what happened last week, and probably no cuts to even the worst acting. Those were the days.

U.N.C.L.E.

We’re showing our age. Several bloggers have recently harked back to the good old days when we were young in the 1960s and used to watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E. every week. If they are male they seem to totally miss the point about Illya Kuryakin being the cool one. Men! What do they know?

I was about ten the first time round, and loved Illya passionately. When Daughter was the same age we discovered TMFU was on in the middle of the night in Sweden, so spent all our holidays watching and recording as many episodes as we could. She, too, had the good taste to love Illya. Both Offsprings spent many hours each holiday ‘hanging out’ with TMFU on video, but we kept the U.N.C.L.E. agents for holiday use only.

A year or so ago, Son found that you could buy the whole series on DVD. Well, you could if you lived in North America, and it was none of the R1 business, either. They just wouldn’t sell abroad. You’d think they’d want to make more money and not less. The intrepid Son eventually found someone on eBay who could supply us with what we needed. I do hope the DVDs didn’t happen to fall off the back of a lorry. Then more recently Son did some magic to the DVD-player thing which means it’s no longer troubled by Region issues.

We spend so much time on NCIS these days (Illya again) that TMFU hasn’t received the attention it deserves, but we had a need for a feelgood evening, so Daughter unboxed Illya. Well, she intended to, but then fell for a totally Illya free episode called The Deadly Smorgasbord Affair. You can see why she would.

The witch family have a saying which goes ‘Road in Switzerland’. That’s when a television series uses the same spot yet again to film something, which it never was in the first place, and certainly won’t be now, either. NCIS has ‘roads in Switzerland’, too.

Anyway, the smorgasbord (it really hurts me to drop all the accented letters, but I’m quoting) episode actually had some genuine Stockholm streets filmed, before it degenerated into complete, ridiculous mayhem. Why do they think Swedes sound like Germans? When the action moves to Oslo, why do they not change the fake language signs? Napoleon Solo dashing about saving the world in a blue dressing gown does very little for me.

Illya Kuryakin

It was fun, but we had a real need for Illya, so went on to the episode before, called The Suburbia Affair, which has plenty of David McCallum flicking his beautiful hair and not making soufflé. You can tell how episodes are written by different people, because this one is properly good and great fun. And it features a real Scandinavian, which is almost a waste, as Victor Borge (another witch favourite) sounds considerably more like an English speaker even when pretending to be Danish, than those fake Stockholm types ever did. Exploding milk bottles and rye bread, and hilarious ice cream van scenes, make this a favourite.

You’ll be relieved to know we feel a lot better for our double U.N.C.L.E. outing.