The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Season 2 Review

  • Series: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 30
  • Discs: 11
  • Cast: Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, Leo G. Carroll
  • Network: NBC
  • DVD Format: DVD, Technicolor, Standard
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 04/01/2008, now hosted on Dreamwidth

Note: This is an older review, previously posted to my Live Journal and now hosted on Dreamwidth. I’ve decided to copy it as is, silly asides and all. I did correct typos and formatting. Enjoy!

The second season of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is probably the most UNCLE-ish or proto-typical of UNCLE’s four seasons. The plots are more fantastical than the more serious first season, but not as silly as season 3 (review forthcoming once I get a chance to watch the entire thing and re-evaluate it). Illya’s been “promoted” to number 2 of Section 2 (Operations and Enforcement) and full partner status with Napoleon, though there are still episodes where one or the other agent is heavily featured and their partner is hardly there. Season 2 also contained “The Moonglow Affair” which introduced Agents April Dancer and Mark Slate, who would be re-cast (to Stephanie Powers and Noel Harrison) and spin-off to the short-lived series, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. – both Napoleon and Illya are taken out at the beginning of the episode by a radioactive gas, and April gets to strut her stuff finding the cure for our two agents and stopping yet another Thrush plot. Despite the lack of Napoleon and Illya, the episode isn’t actually that bad, especially as Normal Fell plays Mark Slate.

During Season 2 of U.N.C.L.E., Thrush becomes THE villain of the show – most episodes involve stopping Thrush’s plots in some way or another. Also, just as in the first season (well, all of UNCLE actually), Napoleon or Illya often gets captured and his partner needs to rescue him, and occasionally both agents are captured and need to figure out a grand escape. Also, in season 2, though we normally see both Illya and Napoleon, there are episodes where the two agents are separated, working on a case from different angles, such as “The Bridge of Lions Affair” (2 parts) where Illya’s in London Soho and Napoleon is in Italy (or France, I forget).

The move to color brings more life to the series (yes, those were the days of Technicolor), with brilliantly lit sets, and colorful backgrounds. However, as I said in my Season 1 review, because of the sheer size of the new color cameras (and the requirement of using dollies to move the camera around) the direction took a turn to the extremely static. Also, black and white, by its very nature, gave the series a more serious tone, while the color just makes things look bright and fun.

The partnership and friendship between Illya and Napoleon are more developed, though, and they work together more often, though not in every single episode, as I said earlier in this review.

Also, in both season 1 and 2, there are plenty of shots of both men that are just really, really nice to look at (after all both Robert Vaughn and David McCallum are incredibly good-looking men, especially back then. And, actually both have aged well, and Vaughn, especially is extremely good-looking now).

Read my The Man from UNCLE Season 1 Review.

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