The Man From UNCLE: The Suburbia Affair
Oh dear, I'm starting to heap up the draft posts (& ideas for posts a bit, but since I'm watching Series 3 of TMFU, & this one came on, I just had to post about it. Like The Off-Broadway Affair, I feel this episode is best watched as a satirical comment both on suburban life (perhaps in a similar vein to the way Bewitched satirised suburban life) & the spying industry.
Of course the nature of the satire is that Peaceful Haven is crawling with power-crazed megalomaniacs & spies. Of course they're deranged. Of course the plot is deranged. Of course the attempts to kill the UNCLE agents are deranged.
There are two familiar faces - to me - in this show, & just for a change they're not the usual round of actors who appeared in every British series in the sixties. Victor Borge - we had some of his records when I was a child - does a surprising turn as a 'straight' actor, although clearly with a nod to his normal self, since he plays a musician. Reta Shaw makes a wonderfully megalomaniac baddie: 'You're too old for a spanking.'
This show is also (perhaps unintentionally) a comment on what happens when the American dream goes wrong, almost in the vein of certain X-Files episodes thirty years later. Even fifty years later what most strikes my British eyes about Peaceful Haven (sounds like a retirement home, or even cemetery) is how prosperous it looks, & particularly how large everything is. This is pre-oil crisis American dream at its best, & the irony is that it's rotten to the core.
Visually the episode looks just like so many other 1960s series (to me, don't forget). This is relieved by the sheer eccentricity of the characters & unlikeliness of the plot. You don't need scenery that's a riot of colours when you have the cast playing this one. Even the scenes of domesticity, with Solo & Kuryakin acting like an old married couple within hours of setting up home, sparkle with a chemistry that isn't in every Man From UNCLE episode.
I have one criticism of the plot. Once you know there's a musician around, the plot falls flat on its face, since to me it is so obvious that musicians are often mathematicians also. The fact that he is also Danish is every so slightly a giveaway.
I have two favourite bits. The first is Solo pulling the estate agent's caravan with an ice cream van, still playing the music. The other is the two patrolmen sitting down to watch the 'old film' on television, which is actual torture broadcast by CCTV from within the house they are in.