Open Channel D review: "Much of what is provided is good"

Review by
Graham Mummery
Sevenoaks, Kent

product rating stars Memories of Sixties Summers

October 31, 2015

The TV programme The Man from UNCLE was one of the first proper "cult TV" programmes in the nineteen sixties. An action-adventure-spy series it also captured the imagination of children with toy guns, cars and gadgets in the same way the James Bond films did then. It was fortunate in its three leading actors Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, who made their names through it, and the veteran actor Leo G Carroll who is perhaps best remembered for it. There were also stylish scripts with a touch of humour which the leading actors carried off with verve. In it's heyday like James Bond, UNCLE helped define sixties cool, though the series later went into a sharp decline after TV executives made the producers over emphasise the comedy that appeared in the scripts.

All of this is mentioned by Dagomir Marquezi in his text. He looks at the origins of the show via correspondence between Ian Fleming (yes that one) and the producer Norman Felton. How Fleming had to leave and the series was developed by Sam Rolfe as a sort of James Bond for television with the hero working for an international espionage organisation against one that consisted of super-criminals. It captures how the show, originally meant as vehicle for Robert Vaughn had to be changed because of the popularity of David McCallum's character which had originally been meant as a walk on role, and how this was key in the show's success. He also gives critical summaries of all the shows, including the spin off series, The Girl from UNCLE, as well as lists of actors and writers involved, for the early action-adventure days through to the third series when it descended into farce (some of which as the author states which was disrespectful to the originators and stars of the series), then how the show recovered some form before being cancelled mid season.

So far so good. Much of what is provided is good. There are some insights into what happened, and some useful lists. It also mentions the recent feature film based on the series with different actors. But so much more could have been made of all this. There is a useful bibliography at the back which includes Jon Heitland's still essential history of the series (see Man From U.N.C.L.E. Book: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of a Television Classic but the summaries of every programme sometimes fall short of detail, even for a brief summary, there is no looking at the UNCLE phenomenon which included books with the characters and merchandising. There are also a lot of typographical errors and even sentences which don't scan. Hence I can't give it a full ringing endorsement.

A reasonable summary of the the show, as far as it goes. But for definitive book go for Heitland.

Much more about UNCLE: -
Amazon Australia -
Amazon Brazil -
Amazon Canada -
Amazon France -
Amazon Germany -
Amazon India -
Amazon Italy -
Amazon Japan -
Amazon Mexico -
Amazon Netherlands -
Amazon Spain -
Amazon UK -


Popular Posts