Thursday, 21 December 2017

Television: 'The Man From UNCLE: The Quadripartite Affair' (1964) (Aired 1x03, Produced 1x09)

Ooh, it's the beginning of a stealth two-parter, which is usually split between the beginning and the end of the season in airing order. However, this and 'The Giuoco Piano Affair' are definitely two halves of a whole and were produced back-to-back. Also, in a last burst of behind the scenes trivia, David McCallum was married to his on-screen love interest Jill Ireland at the time, making for some nice/odd chemistry. Now, let's get to the real reason for writing this: What kind of show was it?

'The Quadripartite Affair' is a very good example of 'The Man From UNCLE', which showcases both Vaughn and McCallum as the newly formed double act at the heart of the show. Yes, it seems dramatically weaker to have them both, and Napoleon Solo will continue to be my favourite of the two, but this is still a nice hour of television. We have some great guest stars in Jill Ireland, Ann Francis, Richard Anderson, Roger C Carmel and John Van Dreelen, and a moderately daft plot about a fear gas that is being planned for use in taking over a small country. Yes, yes, yes, it's that old schtick, brought nicely home by Ilya catching some of the gas himself and becoming a frightened mouse for a short sequence, cowering under a counter.

Sadly, though, this episode just misses the sweet spot, and it's hard to quite understand why. Richard 'Superman' Donner is a great director and executes his flawless plan, but perhaps the stealth two-part nature of it all is the problem. However, in thinking about it, there are several great sequences and it's hard to find any faults. Napoleon and Marion (Ireland)'s escape from the villains' boat in the midst of a party is a wonderful sequence, without a shot fired, as is the escape from the fortress. Perhaps it's McCallum and Ireland, mis-firing on screen, contradicting what I wrote earlier? We may never know. Oh, it's a good episode. Ignore all this blather.

One of the major high points of this season is the black and white cinematography, by Fred Koenekamp, which is always so very, very pretty. Impossibly so, at times. Sometimes, after this show, or a good episode of 'The Addams Family' or the monochrome season of 'Gilligan's Island', it seems rather sad that television ever switched to colour. Oh, did I not mention the monochrome season of Macnee/Rigg Avengers? Is the point carried?


No comments:

Post a Comment