2x27 The Round Table Affair

Rewatching the Man from UNCLE

blog review uncle

I'm rewatching every episode of the Man from UNCLE series from start to finish. This review contains spoilers.

There's a [fictional] micro-nation in Europe that exists exclusively as a safe haven for international criminals. Got a price on your head? Go to Ingolstein, where everyone is welcome and there's no extradition treaty.

It's a pretty clever idea, really, and one that I kind of wish had been developed and used in a better episode. This one was obviously written to take advantage of the medieval set the studio had occupying a soundstage that week. Or more likely, it's a script that somebody wrote as a midieval story, but that got adapted for Man from UNCLE, because Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin are very much background players.

Through a technicality, Waverly realises that Ingolstein's rightful ruler is actually a Duchess, called Vicky (Valora Noland), living in Paris. So he tells Solo and Kuryakin to instate her as the rightful ruler. This turns out to be surprisingly easy. They go to the boarding school where Vicky is staying, take her to Ingolstein, tell some people she's in charge, and the job is done. It all happens before the first act is over.


Through some other technicality, one of the criminals, Artie King (Don Francks), who's staying in Ingolstein has a claim on Ingolstein (I think it's because he paid the property taxes, but honestly the little bureaucratic twists and turns of the episode went in one ear and out the other). So some people decide that he should marry the Duchess. Vicky's uncle (not UNCLE) persuades her to agree to the marriage, and she inexplicably does.

Waverly doesn't like the criminal Artie King, though, so he orders Solo and Kuryakin to kidnap him and take him out of the country. They do, but in his absence another worse criminal named Lucho Nostra (Bruce Gordon) announces that he'll marry the Duchess instead. He conveniently manages to pull a sword from a stone (yep), which gives him the right to marry her, no questions asked.

Well, Waverly likes this even less, so he orders Solo and Kuryakin to bring Artie King back into the country. They do. He challenges Lucho Nostra to a duel for the hand of Vicky, they fight, Artie King wins, and everybody is happy.

Modern day Ingolstein

Episode of convenience

In short, the episode makes no sense and takes a lot of storytelling liberties. Vicky and Artie King fall in love after one conversation, and he turns out to be a pretty nice guy, if you can judge a guy from one conversation (you can't). But hey, he gives her a ring, and everybody knows that when a guy gives a girl an engagement ring, it must mean it's true love, right? (That's wrong.)

The laws of Ingolstein make no sense, and it seems that the micro-nation both has a long history and is a complete scam, all at the same time. I didn't really understand most of what happens in this episode, but I saw that stuff was definitely happening, and the costumes were nice in that 1960s medieval way.

Despite all that, I didn't hate the episode. It was fun, full of mixups and indecision, and just kind of a silly fantasy story. Its big problem is that it's a fantasy story set in the Man from UNCLE, which I don't like. I think this would have been a fine story without the trappings of secret agents. I can imagine this as say, a Jack Lemmon and Blake Edwards vehicle. Or maybe a Danny Kaye picture.

As it is, Solo and Kuryakin spend most of the episode as couriers. Even when they're serving as body guards during the duel, to make sure that no criminal intervenes, they're perched on the rooftop, far away from the action. I respect a show that can have other characters perform the heroic deeds, but maybe the UNCLE agents could have been advisors to Vicky. It's not just a little ironic that her advisor is her uncle, when it obviously should have been UNCLE.

I don't think I'd watch it again now, but I think I'd have loved it as a kid. Somebody should remake this story as a proper fantasy tale, though. That, I'd watch.

Lead image by Anthony DELANOIX under the terms of the Unsplash License. Modified by Seth in Inkscape.

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