Written by Dean Hargrove ( arguably the best of the U.N.C.L.E. writers ) and Antony Ellis, 'The Gazebo In The Maze Affair' was one of the last Season 1 episodes, also one of the first to be released on video in the early '90's ( paired with its Season 2 sequel 'The Yukon affair' ). Illya Kuryakin ( David McCallum ) is about to enter Del Floria's dry cleaning shop ( the secret entrance to U.N.C.L.E. H.Q., for those who do not know ) when he accidentally bumps into a tall stranger ( George Sanders ) who drops a book. Picking it up, Illya runs after him. The man boards a London double-decker bus. Illya hops on and is about to return it when a passenger ( John Orchard ) stabs him with the drugged tip of an umbrella. A toy partridge in a pear tree arrives at U.N.C.L.E. H.Q., providing a clue to the identity of Illya's kidnapper. G.Emory Partridge used to control a South American country, until he fled and stayed out of sight for seven years. He has set himself up in England, as a self-styled country squire. His kidnapping of Illya is a ploy to lure Napoleon Solo out into the open...
Hargrove's U.N.C.L.E. scripts effectively combined adventure with humour, and this is a good example. It is full of wonderfully insane ideas such as a New York cop reacting in disbelief to the sight of a London bus on his beat, a maze full of death traps such as a concealed crossbow, lethal spikes, and a wolf, and Partridge's nutty-as-a-fruitcake wife 'Edith' ( Jeanette Nolan ) brandishing a red-hot poker whilst Solo and Kuryakin are chained to a a dungeon wall.
As 'Partridge', Sanders is, as you would expect, urbane, but its Nolan who steals the show. Her highpoint comes as the U.N.C.L.E boys get free and she lies down on the rack of her own accord, muttering: "If you're going to do a thing like this, do it properly!". As mentioned earlier, Partridge was brought back for Season 2, but sadly Edith was not.
The depiction of England as a land full of upper class toffs and Cockney geezers in flat caps was a familiar one in U.S. television at the time. 'Batman' went down the same road three years later with the three-parter 'The Londinium Larcenies'.
The drugged umbrella is particularly interesting - in 1978, a Bulgarian defector was murdered in London with one.
John Orchard later spoofed 'John Steed' in an episode of the sitcom 'Get Smart!'.
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