Sunday, 10 March 2019

Television: 'The Man From UNCLE: The Hong Kong Shilling Affair' (1965) (Aired 1x24, Produced 1x25)

We're getting very close to the end of our journey through the black and white season of 'The Man From UNCLE', and we've had some duller times of late, but on this occasion we have a nice return to form in 'The Hong Kong Shilling Affair'. We still don't get enough Napoleon Solo, but the innocent of the week is the very interesting Glenn Corbett, an American student who falls in love with a femme fatale, and whom UNCLE recruits to help find an extremely valuable coin and a deeply black market auction house that is selling on international secrets.

After a few weeks of comparative blandness, we get a secret boss communicating with her stooges through some talking samurai armour, Ilya donning a ridiculous Mongolian warlord disguise, the brilliant name of 'Heavenly Cortelle' and... geese... Oh, and Ilya must have been getting bored because he did some duck impressions when warning Napoleon about the aforementioned guard geese. It was also nice to get out into the environs of the supposed Hong Kong, and have a piece of scenery become vital to the closure of the plot!

In this episode, Bernie the innocent really does get to steal the show to some extent, throwing in some laughs both during brawls with the fearsome Richard "Jaws' Kiel, and in his general behaviour. His love affair with the probably (but not certainly) Heavenly is pretty neat too, although it does remove any chance of Napoleon being the one who gets the girl this time. Oh, Napoleon, you have been a bit distant lately. What ails you, dear chap? At least he got to do some sneaking this week, that was something, although he also got captured and gagged with Bernie, so it was a mixed bag.

Ilya's duck impression really was an odd moment. It stuck in the mind as very incongruous. Perhaps it was McCallum that was bored? Or maybe he was feeling stifled by being under that all that latex and costume when he was playing the warlord?

This is a nice and stylish episode, with lots of sneakery, humour and humanity. Mr Waverley even makes a special phone call to remind Ilya and Napoleon that civilians are not expendable, which is odd as they've never really been considered that way, unless there have been a few stories in between episodes with horrific occurrences? Good grief, UNCLE, what have you done???

It's a recommended show.