HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: Season 2
HTS Overall Score:70
Back when James Bond took over the world wide box offices in the early 60s there was a plethora of Bond knock-offs and lookalikes. There was “MI-5”, “Casino Royale” the film, a billion spoofs and then there was “The Man from UNCLE”. UNCLE was one of the most successful of the bond knockoffs and ran for four seasons with over 105 episodes in those 4 short years. Taking the idea of an international man of mystery one step further, they decided to make it a team based show, incorporating in a smooth, sleek, debonair spy on one hand, and the rough and tumble Soviet spy on the other to act as a foil to the other. To say that “The Man from UNCLE” was successful is putting it lightly. It was one of the highest rated TV shows of the time and still remains as one of the favorite old time shows to watch today, as it has not aged nearly as badly as many others have in the same time frame.
The premise of the show is an international spy agency called United Network Command for Law and Enforcement that is helmed by several agents of varying nationalities to take down international terrorists and the like. Headed by Alexander Waverly (Leo G. Carroll) the two most prized agents are one Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and his partner, Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). The two are polar opposites of each other in personality and style. Solo is your bond type, complete with suave manners, a way with the ladies, a rapier wit and the physicality needed to combat villains of every type. He’s an American with the sensibilities and love of capitalism to boot. Kuryakin is a true blue Soviet communist. He’s loyal to his country and to his ideals, which to tend to differ from Solo’s quite a bit. As a result he’s a bit more, well, constipated. Stodgy and grating to Solo (and vice versa), Kuryakin is just as capable a spy, but his blunt nature and tolerance for very little nonsense gives him a skill set that compliments Solo to a T.
What made the show so entertaining was the fact that they weren’t superhero spies like Bond was. While Bond was hunky and could take on a hundred Spectre soldiers, Solo and Kuryakin are more down to each and don’t fare as well in the physicality department. Sure they can hold their own in a fight, but they do get outnumbered and they do show their weakness. This is where the brain portion of the spy game comes in. The two of them are more thinking spies than the traditional types, and they use quite a bit of smarts in order to get their mission done as well.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64762[/img]The other main “feature” of the series is that they always have some sort of innocent character involved in their mission and use that person to get the job done. Every one of these spy movies and shows save innocent civilians, but “UNCLE” made it a very specific choice to include one of these characters in every single episode, thus making it unique amongst the plethora of bond knockoffs. Each one usually has some unique gift, or skill set or drop box of information in order take down the particular villain in this episode.
Being that season 2 is over 50 years old one would expect the show to wear thin in this modern day and age of Daniel Craig type spies, but the show is a complete and total blast. I admit I have a weakness for old fashioned TV series, and love things like “Batman: The Series” with Adam West, but love that “UNCLE is a tad more refined and polished with less cheesy humor. Sure some of the effects and escapes are dated, but that’s to be expected. The action is fun, the comradery and respect the two stars have for each other while dealing with the other’s differences is exquisitely done, and the second season’s line up of episodes is great. Running at over 50 minutes each (remember when that was the norm instead of 42 minute episodes) and with 30 episodes for the whole season there is a LOT of fun to be had. The very first episode pair of the season has the villain of the week be a very young Rip Torn. So young and so different in fact that I didn’t even recognize him until he had been speaking for a while and that wide mouth of his triggered me searching IMDB. We have quite a few run ins with the THRUSH terrorist organization (their version of Spectre and Blofield), and the highlighst of the season included episodes where they take down THRUSH’s training location for young assassins, Dealing with a mole in UNCLE, as well as apprehending a renowned international diamond thief.
1. The Alexander the Greater Affair, Part I
2. The Alexander the Greater Affair, Part II
3. The Ultimate Computer Affair
4. The Foxes and Hounds Affair
5. The Discotheque Affair
6. The Re-Collector's 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
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64770[/img]The second season was the first season that was actually filmed in color (the 1st season was black and white) and looks of comparable quality with the obvious inclusion of color. The series is spread across 10 discs, meaning each disc has only three episodes to give the disc plenty of bitrate and breathing room. Each of the episodes shows little to no macroblocking and artificial adjustments are nugatory. Now the image is from old old sources that really weren’t cared for with the greatest effort back in the day. It was just a simple TV show and no one thought that 50+ years later we’d be getting them to own once more. As a result the masters used show some various print damage, including flickering at a few points and some judicious inclusion of speckles and minor print abnormalities. Clarity can be spotty, with some scenes showing fantastic detail and clean as a whistle in terms of print issues, and then the next scene can be overly soft with some focus issues. Blacks are solid and more than capable, and contrasts are impressive despite the use of a burnished orange tint to the image. The resulting picture is a bit inconsistent, but Warner has done a great job of making the image as clean as they can by spreading the episodes out on a suitable number of discs to reduce artifacting and reproduced the show as accurately as possible.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64778[/img]The mono track included on the discs is very similarly both excellent and rather “worn” at the same time as compared to the video track. The vocals are usually clean and the wonderful sound design of the show is excellent. They used a fantastic array of old scores and the music is one of the highlights of the disc. However there IS some distortion here and there, especially in the higher octaves. Different episodes and different points of the episodes have varying degrees of this distortion, and I also noted a few times where some scratchiness comes through. It’s not horrible, just annoying when it shows up, but something I can live with considering that it was also prevalent in the old Time Life complete series my buddy has from 2007. I can’t complain about Warner’s encoding, as it’s more than capable, but I have to point out a few small flaws in the source of the mix DO pop their head up occasionally. Solid, but flawed, the mono track is more than capable of carrying the series and should please fans of the show and newcomers alike.
“The Man from UNCLE: Season 2” is a great re-release of a fantastic 50+ year old series that still holds a lot of re-watch value. The show appeals to young and old alike, and is a fantastic little time consuming show that is light enough to be watched with ease, but more than engaging enough to binge watch depending on the person. The new set is a bit devoid of the extras, but it is put on a solid 10 disc set that employs a great encode (despite the source deficiencies) and comes in a very sturdy packaging set. If you don’t own the Time Life complete series from a decade ago, then this release is certainly a must buy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Starring: Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, Leo G. Carroll
Created by: Sam Rolfe
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital Mono
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 1507 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 2nd 2016
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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