In the series finale, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin must oppose both former UNCLE official Robert Kingsley's forces as well as Thrush. Solo, in a strongly worded talk to Kingsley's "... See full summary »
In the series finale, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin must oppose both former UNCLE official Robert Kingsley's forces as well as Thrush. Solo, in a strongly worded talk to Kingsley's "Seven Wonders of the World," spells out why Kingsley's dream is a nightmare. Unable to convince them, he and Kuryakin face a firing squad. Written by
After four seasons, THE MAN FROM UNCLE called it quits in January of 1968 and went out with their biggest and most ambitious two part epic of the whole series. At a time when most shows just came to end, Napoleon and Illya wrapped things up with a story and cast equal to a great B movie.
It seems that one of UNCLE's top men in Hong Kong, Robert Kingsley, has disappeared and it is up to Solo and Kuryakin to find him. They soon discover that Kingsley has gone rogue and intends to literally zap the world into eternal obedience by way of a docility gas that destroys the free will. Kingsley has built himself a swanky hideout in the Himalayas (which resembles a 60's era airport terminal) and assembled a team of scientists to build the technology to make his plan to resolve the battle between good and evil forever a reality. What Kingsley does not know is that his double dealing wife, Margita, got the financing for his mad dream from THRUSH operative, Webb, who plans to step in at the last moment and take control of the operation; thus giving THRUSH their ultimate victory.
The big name guest stars for this two part episode: Barry Sullivan as Kingsley; Eleanor Parker as Margita; Leslie Nielsen as Gen. Harmon and Peter Mark Richman as Webb. But the huge supporting cast is filled with names and faces very familiar to television audiences of the day: Dan O'Herlihy,Albert Paulson, Hugh Marlowe, Richard Bull, Ruth Warrick, Logan Ramsey, George Fenneman, Edgar Stehli, and a young Tony Bill, who would go on to be a successful movie producer.
And lets not forget Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, who again face danger with the professionalism and resourcefulness that endeared them to fans like myself for four years. This time they dodge bullets, escape from crashing airplanes and punch their way out of tight spots one last time with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. But it does seem a little unfair they weren't given some hot babes to romance along the way of their final adventure.
This last bow does boast some of the series most memorable moments: Nielsen's desperate struggle to escape a sealed chamber when he becomes an unwitting Guinea pig to the docility gas; the way Kingsley's drugged henchmen totter and fall to the ground; Solo and Kingsley's first encounter where he lays out his ambitious scheme; the scenes that clearly imply that Margita and Webb are getting it on hot and heavy; the shot from beneath a glass table where a distraught Kingsley holds his dead wife. Parker is clearly having a high old time of it and delivers such lines as "Humanity is dirt and always will be." Sullivan is one of the series most surprisingly sympathetic villains, but he is offset by an oily and smug Richman. This was years before Leslie Nielsen reinvented himself as a comedy star and seeing these episodes now, you keep waiting for him to say something outrageous.
In the final scene of this final episode, which aired on Jan. 15, 1968, Mr. Waverly and company watch as a coffin in loaded aboard a plane, an image that suggests a battle won in a war that will go on, but for us fans it was the end of the road. Times were changing rapidly (the Tet Offensive would begin two weeks later) and so was the popular culture (LAUGH IN would replace UNCLE); mindless escapism, like spy shows and westerns, would give way to topical sitcoms, cop shows and doctor dramas. THE MAN FROM UNCLE would continue for awhile as a Gold Key comic and an occasional novel, and there would be a made for TV reunion movie of sorts in 1983. But many of us fans never lost our affection for the original, years after the show went off the air, I'd imagine that Napoleon and Illya were still out there, battling THRUSH and picking up lovely ladies. When Leo G. Carroll died in 1972, I couldn't help but think of it as Mr. Waverly passing. Some UNCLE fanatics insist that David McCallum's character on NCIS is really Illya Kuryakin in retirement and living under an assumed identity. There is a reason why THE MAN FROM UNCLE was the source for some of the original fan fiction.
Will there ever be an UNCLE movie? It's a real possibility; Tom Cruise's name has been attached to the project, but if they don't have Vaughn and McCallum in it, I won't go see it.
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