If you're looking for a Man from U.N.C.L.E. parody, look somewhere else. This is a parody of that series in name only. Arne Sultan's script has CONTROL getting the help of a top agent (Alan Oppenheimer) from Israel's Y.E.N.T.A. to spot a top KAOS killer who is trying to protect a visiting Arab prince. As such the show is heavily laden with some tired borscht belt kind of jokes that owe a large debt to a series of comic novels written by Sol Weinstein, who parodied James Bond with the adventures of Oy-Oy Seven in "Loxfinger" and "Matzoball" and other similar titles. I love Arne Sultan, but Weinstein did it first and did it better.
The non-YENTA stuff in this episode is actually pretty funny, especially a bit where it appears Max has accidentally killed three CONTROL agents sent to help him, thinking they were KAOS killers. Agent 13 (Dave Ketchem)has some good lines and its nice to have 99 back from "Matchgame" or wherever she went the last three episodes.
In fact if not for the tired and forced YENTA stuff, this would have been a terrific episode. Too bad they didn't do a all-out parody of UNCLE. Both shows were on NBC--they might have gotten some interesting cameos. That might have been a classic.
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Amusing Entry by One of the Show's Top Contributors
"The Man from YENTA" is the fifth script from Arne Sultan, who would eventually contribute nearly forty during his time with "Get Smart," and would also be executive producer during the series' last two seasons. Although its title is a play on "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," it owes little to that series except the title; instead, Sultan's script is much more in line with the ethnic humor that was Mel Brooks' most enduring legacy to "Get Smart."
Alan Oppenheimer plays a perhaps too-consciously-Jewish Israeli agent with the curious designation of Agent 498, assisting CONTROL as a "guest agent" for this outing. (Although the joke built into his number isn't in the episode as filmed, Barbara Feldon suggests it during her voice-over introduction on the DVD -- that it's "marked down" from "500" -- as in, "Agent 500 -- but for you, 498.") Another subtle joke is not commented on but just placed there. When the Chief answers the phone from Israel, which is among eight "hotlines" behind a panel in his office, three of the phones -- marked "London," "W. Berlin," and "Tel Aviv" are pale blue or pale green. Three of them -- "Moscow," "Peking," and "E. Berlin" are red; and "Paris" -- perhaps because de Gaulle had recently expelled NATO headquarters from France -- is pink! Oddly, the receiver for the phone to "Peking" is hung at 90° to the phone instead of hanging from its cradle, though what this is supposed to mean is anyone's guess.
The story has the unusual twist of an Israeli agent helping to protect Arab ruler (and oil magnate) Prince Abu ben Bubee from KAOS' assassin Le Moko. Some other jokes are woven in there -- "bubee" is a Yiddish term of endearment, just as "yenta" is Yiddish slang for "a gossip." Oppenheimer speaks with an accent that's more New York than Tel Aviv, and is given several lines that Mel Brooks could have written -- such as suggesting to the Chief that a recent shooting victim be given water, and when the Chief points out it wouldn't help a dead man, he responds, "Wouldn't hoit." Agent 498 likewise tells Max he has to call Tel Aviv right after he reaches the airport, explaining, "I promised my mother I'd call her the minute I arrived -- she worries."
Still, the highlight of the episode is undoubtedly at the end when the Prince, Agent 498, Max, and Le Moko all end up in Max's apartment (don't ask), each dressed exactly alike with beards, sunglasses, and Arab robes -- the further to confuse the Chief. Of course, when the Chief motions "Max, c'mere" for Max to join him from the four, the real Max does so -- and the Chief accepts that it's him without question. This was apparently so that the remaining three could then play an impromptu game of "To Tell the Truth" -- with Max even getting to utter the recognizable line, "Will the real Prince Abu ben Bubee . . . ." There's also an amusing moment when Agent 99 rushes in and (thinking that they're Max) mistakenly hugs both Agent 498 and the Prince in succession, getting from each an audible sigh of satisfaction (a touch that feels like it was added during filming).
Besides Alan Oppenheimer, the episode gets a couple of funny scenes from semi-regular Dave Ketchum as Agent 13 (this time hiding in a chimney in the Prince's apartment) and competent supporting work from Paul Comi as Le Moko and the late voice artist Walker Edmiston as the Prince. It's somewhat of an irony that Le Moko is able to imitate *his* voice perfectly (through the use of looping, of course) to help perfect Le Moko's disguise. In sum, although it's not the best that the series had to offer, it's a memorable and entertaining episode, especially that final scene in Max's apartment.
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