I'm rewatching every episode of the Man from UNCLE series from start to finish. This review may contain spoilers.
This one's a very cool political intrigue episode that revolves around a boy genius. For me, the real story in this episode is the glimpse at amateur electronics in the 1960s. Of course, there's the occasional misunderstanding of what a "computer" is ("a computer is never wrong, that's why it's a computer") but more importantly there's a lot of playing around with radio gear. Obviously it's not done in detail, but it's refreshing to see [pretend] cool stuff being done with hardware rather than software.
THRUSH gets word of a genius at a Swiss boy's school, because the dean of the school is an aspiring THRUSH member. They send a high-ranking agent to the school, and kill the boy's father to solidify their claim on the boy. They realize too late that the boy's father had already assigned a backup guardian to the boy: Elfie van Dunck, an eccentric actress played by Angela Landsbury.
For some reason, the writers throw in another leading lady named Joanna, played by Diane McBain. It seems to be a way for Kuryakin to join up with Van Dunck (Joanna offers the services of her hairdresser, Kuryakin, to Elfie van Dunck), and for the rest of the episode she chases Kuryakin around and serves as an unofficial UNCLE agent. It very much works. She and Kuryakin are a great team, and she's as good an unwilling UNCLE agent as any other guest star. I'm just not personally convinced that she belongs in this episode.
This isn't an action episode, and I like that. For the most part, this is a social intrigue episode, with Napoleon Solo trying to convince both the boy and his guardian that THRUSH is an evil organisation that they shouldn't get involved with.
Obviously, problems arise.
Naturally, THRUSH identifies Solo within 2 minutes of meeting him. That's standard stuff, however awkward a plot device it is that our star secret agent is apparently so famous within the criminal underworld that his identity isn't secret.
Elfie van Dunck is strongheaded, too, so she's not easy to convince. She's worked in TV productions for one of the men who, as it turns out, is actually a THRUSH agent, so she remains convinced throughout most of the episode that Solo is a toy salesman.
And finally, the boy himself decides he wants to join THRUSH in order to take them down from the inside, as a way to get revenge for his father's death.
It's an entertaining episode (or two).
Lead image by Anthony DELANOIX under the terms of the Unsplash License. Modified by Seth in Inkscape.