Friday, February 12, 2016

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season Two DVD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
The original 1960s series that set the stage for the major feature film this summer is back with the release of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Second Season. During its second season, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was recognized as the Golden Globe winner for Best TV Show and nominated for 10 Emmy Awards. Top agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, played by actors Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, use their charm, wit, and assortment of gadgets to defend the world from their international syndicate T.H.R.U.S.H. The second season continues with all the excitement from season one, as the agents travel all over the world to take on T.H.R.U.S.H and its axis of evil Allies. Whether the agents are posing as prison inspectors or obtaining mind-reading devices, the adventures are sure to continue throughout the season. This exciting season also features guest appearances by Jill Ireland, Angela Lansbury, Kevin McCarthy, Vincent Price and George Sanders.

Show (4 out of 5 stars)
Looking to ride the wave of popular of spy movies and shows, when it came time to create a new spy show, the network of course went straight to the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming for ideas for a new kind of show. Fleming came up with the concept and created the character of Napoleon Solo, but he was asked by the Bond producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to make some changes as the project was getting too close to comfort to the original franchise. Because there was a character already named Solo in Goldfinger, the name of the show was changed to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and it would eventually focus on a pair of agents stopping the bad guys instead of the solo act of James Bond. This new organization (which stood for (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) was in place to stop the villainous plans of T.H.R.U.S.H. (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity).

U.N.C.L.E.'s main two agents, American Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Soviet Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) are tasked with stopping this new evil organization that was reportedly founded by Col. Sebastian Moran after the death of Professor Moriarty when he was defeated years before by   Sherlock Holmes. T.H.R.U.S.H.'s goal is complete world domination and the threat they pose is so serious that the two biggest superpowers who have their own differences, America and The Soveiet Union, have joined forces to defeat them. That global angle really distinguishes The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  from the various other shows. 

The first season was black and white and the show made the move to color during the second season. The tone of the show would also change over time, as with each season it would add more comedy until it turned into camp and slapstick when the show's producers tried to imitate the other big show on TV - Batman. For this second season, I really enjoyed the light tone of the show and at this point it hadn't gone over the top like it would later. The stakes were still high, but the show and characters didn't take themselves too seriously. I actually enjoyed the witty banter between Solo and Kuryakin and it reminded me a little of I Spy and James Bond. The best part of the show is Vaughn and McCallum, who really bring their roles to life and deliver their dialogue perfectly. Everyone wanted to be on the spy bandwagon and this show itself spawned a much of imitators too. This was a great season and although I can't speak about the other seasons as I haven't seen them, I did really enjoy the breezy action and fun of this second season.

Here are the episodes included in this season:
  1. Alexander the Great Affair, Part I 
  2. Alexander the Great Affair, Part II 
  3. The Ultimate Computer Affair 
  4. The Foxes and Hounds Affair
  5. The Discotheque Affair 
  6. The Re-Collectors Affair 
  7. The Arabian Affair 
  8. The Tigers Are Coming Affair 
  9. The Deadly Toys Affair 
  10. The Cherry Blossom Affair
  11. The Virtue Affair
  12. The Children's Day Affair
  13. The Adriatic Express Affair 
  14. The Yukon Affair
  15. The Very Important Zombie Affair 
  16. The Dippy Blonde Affair
  17. The Deadly Goddess Affair
  18. The Birds and the Bees Affair
  19. The Waverly Ring Affair 
  20. The Bridge of Lions Affair (Part I) 
  21. The Bridge of Lions Affair (Part II) 
  22. The Foreign Legion Affair
  23. The Moonglow Affair 
  24. The Nowhere Affair
  25. The King of Diamonds Affair
  26. The Project Deephole Affair
  27. The Round Table Affair 
  28. The Bat Cave Affair 
  29. The Minus-X Affair
  30. The Indian Affairs Affair 
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The video quality for this DVD set was surprisingly good considering the format and the show's age. Detail was impressive taking those into account and the colorful show really popped. There are some instances where the color fades and there is some print damage, but overall this is a very good effort. I would love to see this on Blu-ray, but in the meantime, this is a high quality 1.33:1 transfer for DVD.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The only track offered is the English mono track that the show originally was aired with. It does the job but it would have been nice to get a new remastered version. The dialogue and music are clear and intelligible however.
Extras (0 out of 5 stars)
No extras but there's a ton of great guest stars this season including: Rip Torn, Vincent Price, Donna Michelle, Dorothy Provine, Ricardo Montalban, Angela Lansbury, Mary Ann Mobley, Leigh Chapman, James Doohan, Martin Landau, Victor Buono, Jill Ireland, Norman Fell, Maurice Evans, Eve Arden, Vera Miles, James Frawley, Leon Askin, Howard DaSilva, Jay North, Bruce Gordon, Vic Tayback, Claude Akins , and more.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Season Two is a fun trip back in time during the swinging sixties and they heyday of spy programs. The cast are all fun in their roles and I especially liked all of the great guest stars too. This DVD set offers a surprisingly good video transfer, while the audio is serviceable, and I wish that this set had the wealth of extras the the complete series set offered. If you are fan of spy shows with a good dose of comedy included, then you should definitely check this out!

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