“Open Channel D.”
This is a heck of a week for spy fans. Last week was the 50th anniversary of the release of Goldfinger, and today marks the 50th anniversary of the first episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
U.N.C.L.E. is one of my all time favorite shows, mostly because it was so FUN. It was a spy show, yes, but it always had fanciful elements that made it more sci-fi than a straight action-adventure series. And, of course, the casting of David McCallum and Robert Vaughn was pitch-perfect – their chemistry elevated the material and made good scripts even better.
It was a fun, entertaining series… which had peaks and valleys. The first season, in black and white and very much inspired by Hitchcock (especially North by Northwest), built a great rich universe and features some fantastic premises and guest stars. You really got a sense that the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement actually EXISTED (people mailed the network to find out where they could sign up).
Then… well, the show lost its way. A LOT. The second season got more and more ludicrous, and the third… well, the less said about that season the better. The show tried to course correct in its fourth and final season, but it went to far into the realm of drama and lost the fun that made the show so remarkable and great.
A reunion film came out in 1983, and they are producing a big-screen remake… but nothing beats the original, flaws and all.
Happy anniversary Man for U.N.C.L.E.! Since we both share the same “birthday,” I’ll be enjoying a celebratory drink for both of us later!
Here’s some fun clips: