The Man from UNCLE: The Bow-Wow Affair
If this were an Avengers episode, its subtitle would be In which we discover Mr Waverley has an identical cousin (with a moustache) & Illya becomes a diversity champion.
Actually, no, take that back. This episode has more weirdness than you can shake a stick at, right from the start where a man steretypically dressed as a vampire (Andre Delgardo) stabs some pyjamas in the heart. It is also reminiscent of films taking off the detective genre such as Clue & Murder by Death. It certainly has everything you could want: manor house, gypsy fortune teller. This is combined with the sort of fear & big dog you normally only find in a Hammer film. I do love the way the 'gypsies' live in one of those wonderful Sixties houses where the sitting room has everything on lots of different levels. I like this episode enormously, & I think what I like best about it is actually the way it's so overdone, including that there is scarcely a film genre it does not parody.
Of course the plot of this merry romp is more full of holes than Swiss cheese: in reality if the set-up for this show happened, you'd simply ring the local police & tell them you know full well who has it in for your nightwear. Where Illya Kuryakin gets his knowledge of his 'friends' the gypsies, for another thing - perhaps it is seen as something to do with being Russian. The 'gypsies' themselves don't fit in with stereotypes of travellers - they don't look like them, they live in a permanent house, & the aim of this show cannot possibly to give a non-stereotypical view of Roma. They are, however, painted as frauds right from the start, although ironically Kuryakin resorts to a breeder's trick to turn the dogs against their master.
This first series episode sees an interesting development of the characters. I can't believe I hadn't noticed until I just read it that there are some series 1 episodes where Kuryakin doesn't appear at all; in this one, however, Solo's poorly leg allows Kuryakin to carry the show. Napoleon Solo obviously later developed into the ladies' man of the show, but in this episode the characters are still feeling their way to their defined roles:
'Female viewers had definite ideas of just what sort of person Illya Kuryakin must be, and they let the producers know in no uncertain terms what behavior was acceptable and what was not. In "The Bow-Wow Affair," the first episode in which Illya carries the show, he becomes involved with a relative of Waverly's, Alice Baldwin. In one scene, she asks him to kiss her, and he replies, "If you insist," whereupon she kisses him. A few minutes later, he kisses her back. This one scene drew a firestorm of angry fan mail. Illya, it seemed, was not supposed to kiss girls--at least, that's what his fans said. Perhaps it was this particular girl they objected to.' (http://www.manfromuncle.org/kcretro5.htm)
It's rather sad to see the abrupt end of Kuryakin's putative romantic career!
My favourite line:
Kuryakin (when Solo asks him if he's free):No man is free who has to work for a living.'