I'm rewatching every episode of the Man from UNCLE series from start to finish. This review may contain spoilers.
Not one bit of this episode is ever quite what you expect. The plot ends up bouncing around like a pinball, and I honestly can't even remember the point in the end, but I loved it anyway. Here's what I remember: There's an apartment building that's conveniently adjacent to UNCLE headquarters. Surprisingly, UNCLE has taken precautions and they own and manage the buildings. But they have actual tenants in the building, and they've recently had to make upgrades to the building. And now Sandy Wyler, an aspiring actress, is complaining about the increase in rent.
Napoleon Solo is tasked with appeasing Sandy Wyler.
That's the setup. A highly trained UNCLE agent has to play building supervisor.
If that sounds boring, you can rest assured that the guest star, Judi West as Sandy Wyler, makes this episode quirky and supremely clever. Or at least, she does for the first half.
As it turns out, Thrush posed as the builders performing the upgrades to UNCLE's building, and they planted a super-powered listening device in the wall of Sandy's sewing room. It requires magnetic paint (or something) to help the listening device operate, but the paint is bulkhead gray so Sandy strips it and redecorates. To get her out of the apartment (I think?), Thrush hires Sandy as a dancer for a discotheque they own.
Of course, UNCLE has already brought Sandy onto their payroll, so she agrees to "help" Thrush, all the while keeping UNCLE informed. Ilya Kuryakin plays upright contrabass in the band (impressively, they even drop the bass line when he stops playing for a moment to converse with Sandy.)
Thrush agents get up to no good. UNCLE counters their every move.
The rest of the episode is fine, but let's be honest, the best part of this episode is the first half with Sandy Wyler as the lead character. I feel sometimes that this show fails to understand just how important the guest characters are, which is fair. After all, you're tuning in to see Ilya and Napoleon, so you don't want to spend too much time on the guest star, but this setup was really clever and Sandy is a real "character." She's an aspiring actress who can barely make rent, hasn't paid her butcher's bill in 18 months, and is being courted by Freddy the pizza stand owner in Monterey County (that's in California, and UNCLE's headquarters is in New York.) But don't worry, Sandy's going to pay everybody's kindness back once she's a star (and she believes a star can have a happy home life in addition to a successful career, by the way.)
This is a fun one.