|Index||4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first season of 'M.F.U.' debuted to low ratings and mixed reviews
but by the end was firmly established as a pop culture phenomenon. The
summer reruns got better audiences than the original showings. There
are two main reasons for this; firstly, the success of the 'James Bond'
movies starring Sean Connery created an appetite for more of the same,
and secondly, the unexpected popularity of the 'Illya Kuryakin'
character, played by David McCallum. Robert Vaughn's 'Napoleon Solo'
also had his share of fans.
Season 2's opener 'The Alexander The Greater Affair' was the show's first two-parter, and also the first made in colour ( not counting Season 1's 'The Vulcan Affair' and 'The Double Affair' which were released theatrically ). A U.S. army base is attacked and a number of capsules of B.G.3.0 'will' gas ( able to break down an enemy's will to win a war ) stolen. Found at the scene of the crime is a slate bearing the number '8'. The thief is believed to be 'Mr.Alexander' ( Rip Torn ). Not content with being one of the world's wealthiest men, he plans on ruling the world, and wants to break every one of the Ten Commandments. Having already tackled 'Thou Shalt Not Steal', he goes on to 'Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour's Wife' by committing adultery with Princess Nicole ( Donna Michelle ).
Solo and Kuryakin think the best way to get near the megalomaniac is by tagging his ex-wife Tracey ( the recently deceased Dorothy Provine ), who is chasing her former spouse to get him to agree to paying out a million dollar divorce settlement. At a lavish party in Greece, Solo plays chess with Alexander ( a scene that anticipates the famous human chess game in 'The Prisoner' episode 'Checkmate' ). Losing to the U.N.C.L.E. agent, Alexander is furious and plots revenge, leading to a car chase through a quarry and, ultimately, to an underground tomb. The episode ends with a gloating Alexander leaving Solo to face certain death at the hands of a swinging scimitar, while Illya and Tracey are poised to fall into a bottomless pit.
Dean Hargrove was one of the show's best writers, being able to effectively combine adventure with humour. With Joseph Sargent in the director's seat, the result is a terrific episode. Torn is suitably menacing as 'Alexander', while Provine is sexy and funny as 'Tracey'.
Both this and the second instalment were later combined to make the feature film 'One Spy Too Many' which took more money in London than the Bond movie 'Thunderball' in its fifth week. A scene was deleted featuring Alexander's parents, the Baxters ( one of whom is played by Madge Blake, who went on to play 'Aunt Harriet' in 'Batman' ), who are working like slaves in their son's quarry ( another Commandment - 'Thou Shall Honor Thy Mother And Father' - broken! ).
When this episode debuted in the States, 'M.F.U.' shot to the top of the ratings, edging out 'Bonanza' and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. It was a remarkable comeback for a show that, only a few months earlier, looked set for the scrap heap.
There's good and bad in this episode.
Good: this two-part, season two opener is in color, and the DVD print looks sharp and nice. Rip Torn does his usual fine acting job. Dorothy Provine is beautiful and really adorable! Her expert comic timing and flair are a major plus. There seems to have been a big budget for this two-parter; we get some good exterior scenes, and there is some good action.
Now for the bad: In this series especially, there is a fine line between just enough humor to be fun, and a tad too much, making the story go flat and causing the viewer to wince. This episode, for me, goes a bit over that too-much humor line. At times it feels like a "Batman" episode, which is not a good thing! The story drags at times. Bottom line: worth watching, but not among the best episodes.
Season 2 of "The Man From Uncle" kicked off in colour for the first time with "The Alexander The Greater Affair". Most of the Uncle stories are somewhat tongue-in-cheek & this one is certainly no exception. Rip Torn plays Alexander a crook who has conquered the financial world as opposed to his historical predecessor who conquered a large part of the known world. Our Uncle agents Napoleon Solo (the late Robert Vaughn) & Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) are engaged to bring him down a peg or two. From my point of view the best reason for watching this is to ogle the delectable Dorothy Provine who was a pretty good actress as well as being a knockout looker. She plays Tracey Alexander the ex-wife of our villainous money mogul who is also very interested in bringing him down. "The Man From Uncle" is very watchable as long as you don't take it too seriously.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. The Alexander the Greater Affair Pt 1 1965
This is the 30th episode of 1964 to 1968 spy series, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. The series ran for a total of 105 episodes. The first season was filmed in black and white with the remainder shot in colour. Robert Vaughn plays agent Napoleon Solo while David McCallum plays Illya Kuryakin. Leo G Carroll plays Mister Waverly, the boss of the secret agency known as U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law & Enforcement) Their main enemy is THRUSH, an organization out to take over the planet.
The first season of MAN FROM UNCLE was filmed in b/w, and all the better for it. This episode, the first of the second season blasts onto the screen with garish colour and a rather silly story. As a fan of the series, I was expecting more.
UNCLE gets involved with one of world's wealthiest men, Rip Torn. Torn steals several canisters of a US Army nerve gas. Torn plans on using the gas to help him take over the world. While doing so he intends to break all of the Ten Commandments. Also in the mix is Torn's ditsy ex-wife, Dorothy Provine. She is chasing Torn to try and get the divorce settlement papers signed.
UNCLE agents McCallum and Vaughn pursue Torn to Athens and around the Greek Islands before finally returning back to the States. There are bottomless pits, swinging blades and numerous underlings with murder on their minds here. It really does not work very well.
Part 2 is not much better with the chase ending up at a farm in Virginia. Torn plans on killing the leader of an East Asian country. Then he can use the country as a base of operations for his world domination plans. Of course UNCLE manages to foils Torn and his evil plans.
Not a winner in my books, though I must admit that Miss Provine is always a hoot to watch in anything. A better story and less comedy would also have helped.
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