I shotgunned the 4th season of The Man From UNCLE in one long gulp. The came from NetFlix so it was more a series of glugs. I figured it might not be so good so I might as well get the whole series done and move on. It turned out to be better than I expected. The season debuted September 11 1967 and the 16 episodes run through January 15 of the following year. The ratings had slipped in season 3 and the producers were trying to capture some of the audience back by making the program more serious. It didn't help and the show got the axe before the season was finished. There certainly was less comedy this season and I felt it was more like the early 2nd season. The stories are a bit repetitive but they had done 89 of them already. The spy game is usually the same thing in a new location so you can't expect much plot variance.
Robert Vaughn plays Napoleon Solo, David McCallum plays Illya Kuryakin and Leo G Carroll plays Mr Waverly. The guys travel the world fighting evil that comes mostly from Thrush, a secret evil organization run by some evil dicks. They shot the show on the MGM lot and that had a lot of fun places to shoot. The producers were always looking for sets from other MGM productions to redress for TMFU. Saved a lot of money. Occasionally the show would travel into the desert to blow stuff up. If you travelled less than 45 miles from the studio it was cheaper than if you went more then 45 miles. In one episode they used the Theme Building at the LA Airport for a secret Thrush installation. The show still is attracting a nice bunch of guest stars. Among them are Broderick Crawford, Chad Everett, Bradfrod Dillman, Jack Lord, Micheal Rennie, David McGavin, William Marschall and Leslie Nielsen. Many of them were the Thrust villain of the week. Actors always talk about how much fun it is to play the villain and from what people say in the bonus material it was just plain fun to work on the show too. George Lehr said it was the most fun in his career. He also said the guest stars got $3000 for doing an episode. I wonder if that's typical for a guest spot at the time. That would have been about a years salary for my mother. She was a cashier in a grocery store at that time. I know I worked in a furniture factory for a summer job the year after the show ended and I think I was making about $1.25 an hour. That would be about $2500 a year.
The stories are typical spy stuff. There's a visit to a spy school with a Thrush double agent. There are several stories with dangerous new inventions like a death dealing prism ray, a mind control ray, a laser like weapon that's also a secret bomb. There's a plot for world domination with a mind controlling gas. Luckily for us the UNCLE guys save the day and our asses. I'm grateful, I mean, what would I sit on?
I know I had some UNCLE comics when I was a kid. I don't have any now but I read some online 3 or 4 years back. They weren't anything I thought I needed to recollect. I feel the same way about the toys and such. Nice to see them in pictures but not needed in my house. Virtual is good.
The Bonus Features are plentiful. No commentaries but plenty of interviews with cast and crew. David McCallum, Robert Vaugh, writer Dean Hargrove, director Richard Donner, associate producer George Lehr and director Joseph Sargent each get 25-28 minutes to talk about their experiences. I found them interesting enough. I like those kind of interviews where people talk about the shows they worked on. I often find I appreciate a show more when people tell me the stories behind it. There was a nice piece on the MGM backlot where they shot a lot of the show. There's a piece on the guest stars and a better one on UNCLE and the Cold War. There's a featurette on the Guns and Gadgets of the series and another on the modified Pirahna car they use occasionally. The music and the girls of the show get their own short segments. Promos, trailers, tv appearances and spots all get some bit of the bytes on the discs. There's segement on the fans of the show with mention of their websites. These dvds are from 2008 and the websites ares still there but there isn't much new content. Add some photos and you can eat up a couple of evenings of your life. I watched them at 1.5 speed and that saved me some time.
Now that I'm done with the series I still think the season to watch is the first. I'm still not that keen on buying them but glad to have seen them. If I want to see them again I bet I'll be able to stream them from a service in the future. Comcast has recently added a new section to there On Demand service. I haven't paid the extra 5 bucks a month to unlock it. It's mostly just past seasons of shows that I have on dvd or have seen and don't want to watch again.