Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

I loved this show when I was a kid.

Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin could do no wrong in my book. They had ultra-cool gadgets and guns and gorgeous babes, everything a grade-schooler like me could hope for. When they whacked some foreign despot, or helped destabilized a regime, they were martini cool and lighthearted, and my sense of history didn't come flooding in to undermine my idiotic pre-pubescent pleasure.

Anyway, I watched a couple episodes last night, and they still had the gadgets and the chicks but it all seemed rather silly. Very tongue in cheek. I'd always wondered why Austin Powers was necessary with so many 1960s spy spoofs already available -- U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, Our Man Flint, the Bond franchise. Mission: Impossible. Oh, and Secret Agent Man, with that cool theme song by Johnny Rivers. And, perhaps best of all, The Prisoner.

Why so many spy shows? They were probably a product of our Cold War anxieties, the pressures of a changing world, the post-colonial era, low-intensity rumblings in the jungles of Africa, South America, and even Southeast Asia. Or maybe we just liked the gadgets and gorgeous babes.

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