The slick spy series might have aged some, but is still a blast to watch thanks to the DVD release of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season – which features all 29 episodes on 10 discs. The episodes look and sound great. The action sequences and set pieces still manage a thrill or two – despite the somewhat cheesy feeling the show has now.
Premiering in 1964, the series starred Robert Vaughn as the cool as ice Napoleon Solo and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin. Throughout the first season, the duo uses their charms, skills, and 007-worthy gadgets to save the world from a variety of evil threats. Fans of classic film and television will also enjoy spotting guest-appearances from William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Kurt Russell, Ricardo Montalban, Jill Ireland, Slim Pickens and Ken Murray.
The set features some of series’ great episodes like The Vulcan Affair, The Shark Affair, The Neptune Affair, The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair, and The Odd Man Affair. Binge-watching the episodes makes for a fun afternoon, but they do feel a tad formulaic when it comes to the plot. Most of the episodes revolve around Solo and Kuryakin tackling a case that is a mixture of action, espionage, and detective work. They often have some handy gadgets to help them along – which provides a few laughs given today’s technology. Audience members can’t be quite impressed with a cigarette case that turns into a phone when we have cell phones and the Apple Watch. Still, it is a blast to see them break out the spy gear and put it to work.
The strength of the series comes from the performances of Vaughn and McCallum. Vaughn plays Solo as a television version of James Bond with a mix of Sherlock Holmes. He has all the charm needed to seduce the ladies with a single glance, but he is tough as nails and can take on any bad guy. No matter how complicated the threat, Solo is smart enough to deduce the danger, and figure out a way to solve the case. McCallum’s Kuryakin has all the charm of Solo, but also comes across a tad deadlier. He seems quicker to action, and at times a little colder of a character.
Fans of the series will want to pick up this set, and it is a great starting point for fans of classic television that never had a chance to catch the series. Every episode is a winner, and it will leave you wanting to see more.