Saturday, February 11, 2017


I'm midway through a big project that I'm trying very hard to finish by the end of the month, and to make that work, I need to chisel out a chunk of extra time. Ergo, U.N.C.L.E. recaps and Friday Roundups are going to be on hold until the end of the month. It's a necessary evil. Duranalysis Facebook page updates may continue, albeit sporadically.

Take good care of yourselves and be kind to each other. Illya, Napoleon, and I will see you back here in March.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum Affair”

Illya and Napoleon hang out at the docks in Hong Kong, being all delightful and charming while spying on a ship chartered by THRUSH. Illya sneaks on board to search for THRUSH’s latest fiendish device, a contraption that can generate deadly tidal waves. Displaying his usual level of competence, he somehow accidentally ends up locked in the hold. The ship sets sail while Napoleon remains behind on shore. 

This is the last scene Illya and Napoleon will share together until the final seconds of this episode. It’s not a terrible episode or anything—by the grotesquely lowered standards of season three, it’s pretty darn watchable—but it does make the key mistake of keeping Napoleon and Illya separated the whole time, thus depriving viewers of this show’s major strength, i.e. the magnificent chemistry between the leads. This is the first episode Norman Hudis wrote for the series, and, despite some problem areas, he did a decent job of it: The pacing is sluggish, but the characterizations are good, the plot is solid, and the dialogue often has at least a faint echo of the signature snappy banter of early episodes. Alas, Hudis would go on to write a handful of the worst episodes in the show’s history, episodes so relentlessly terrible and tedious that I dread the day when I finally have to get around to recapping them: “The Five Daughters Affair”, “The J Is For Judas Affair”, and, most craptacular of all, “The Seven Wonders of the World Affair.” This episode isn’t strong enough to mitigate that dire legacy.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Roundup

Bear with me. I sliced the pad of my thumb apart on Wednesday in some inexplicable kitchen-related way (I have no idea what I did; I was just in the middle of cooking, then suddenly noticed I was bleeding), and typing is a bit of an ordeal.

I finished the first draft of my forthcoming Duranalysis book today, only three days behind schedule. Which, considering that January threw all the hurdles it could in front of me, isn’t too shabby. The book consists of fifteen essays on the Duran Duran experience, short-ish and sweet. I’m still aiming for a mid-April publication date. I’ll let you know more details as things fall in place.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The My Friend The Gorilla Affair”

Well. Here we are. This is widely regarded as the Worst U.N.C.L.E. Episode Ever, though I would respectfully disagree; it’s not as disgracefully wretched as “The Jingle Bells Affair”, nor is it as in-your-face offensive as “The Indian Affair Affairs.” I’d even argue that it’s slightly better than “The Hong Kong Shilling Affair.” Heck, throw a dart at a list of season four episodes, and odds are very good it’ll hit an episode at least marginally worse than this one.

That said, this one is indeed pretty terrible. Napoleon dances the Watusi with a gorilla. There’s just no putting a positive spin on that.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Abominable Snowman Affair”

I suppose this episode won’t magically improve the longer I put off recapping it, so let’s rip this bandage off quickly, shall we?

We open somewhere high up in the Himalayas, where Illya bids farewell to his native guide, then dresses up as a Yeti in head-to-toe fur and a rubber mask so he can sneak across the border into the fictional country of Ghupat. We’re barely a minute into the episode, and already things are irreparably stupid. We are deep in the foul and stinky waters of season three.

It quickly gets stupider: Illya is ambushed by Calamity Rogers (Anne Jeffreys), a former movie star dressed in full cowgirl regalia. Mistaking him for a genuine Abominable Snowman, she whips out a rifle and shoots him in the arm. “Yahoo! I got that ornery critter!” she proclaims to her loyal manservant.

Still with me? You can bail out now; I won’t get offended. It won’t get any better.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Roundup

In terms of happiness and general mental health, how is everyone doing? Hanging in there?

This morning, I saw a plane flying over Harlem trailing a banner proclaiming RESIST: WE OUTNUMBER HIM. It was oddly comforting on this bizarre and melancholy day.

My sister and I went to the United We Stand rally at Columbus Circle yesterday. We were there very briefly; the crowd was twenty thousand strong, and we are both mildly agoraphobic, so we stayed inside the boundaries of Central Park where we could slip away easily. Baby steps. Glad we went, albeit briefly, even though we missed Cher (Cher!).

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


No U.N.C.L.E. recap this week due to a combination of an overpacked agenda and general inertia, but have no fear:

a) I'll post a new recap early next week, and:
b) it's just going to be that stupid third-season episode where Illya dresses up as the Abominable Snowman for absolutely no good reason, so you're not missing all that much.

Apologies for the delay.